Monday, March 9, 2015

Lisa Scottoline, The Spark

I remember stopping dead in my tracks as I passed through a bookstore decades back.  Lisa Scottoline on the shelves.  I had gone to law school with Lisa, been on the University of Pennsylvania Law Review together.  We clerked in the same federal courthouse in Philadelphia, windows looking out on Independence Hall.

She's an author!  Wow, and Edgar Award winning author.  A New York Times Best Seller.

I bought the book and read it straight through.  It was a Philadelphia I knew, voices I could hear.  A plot that I wish I had thought of...even though I was doing no writing at the time, except legal briefs and motions.

Ever since then I wanted to tell the stories I learned and imagined as I plied my craft as prosecutor and defense lawyer.

I picked up other Scottolines over the years.  They kept coming at an impressive pace. The dialogue always jumped off the page.  I was there hearing these Philadelphians, the cynical lawyer, the impatient judge.  And wondering what was coming next.

So I chipped away at my stories.  I won some awards.  But not until now did I get the break:  an agent, then a three-book contract.  I'm going to be not just a writer.  I'm going to be an author.

I contacted Lisa, thirty-three, thirty-four years after I last saw her, probably in the hallways of the federal courthouse where we had worked together.  She's now a giant in the trade. She was elected president of Mystery Writers of America in 2011.   I've seen her novels and books-on-tape in libraries, airports and bookstores on both ends of the continent.  I'm in a B&B in Yorkshire during a walk across England.  She's there on the shelf by the coal fire.

I thanked her for being the spark.

She congratulated me and asked if I still smoked.  Over three decades later and she was concerned.

Lisa hasn't changed.  Still a warm, people-loving person.  How she can write so many stories about murder, deceit, and dishonesty and retain those fine qualities is a wonder.

I said it in my e-mail.  I'll say it here:  Thanks, Lisa Scottoline.  I never would have tried writing a book if I hadn't first read yours. 

Oh, and I quit smoking before I got out of law school. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to reading your blog... I came across your name in a lap around NM Political blog reading today. Something from 2010. My significant other is finishing his first book this summer (he's a H.S. English teacher). I'm glad to have another blog to follow!
Kayla Krattiger in NM