Welcome to the blog, Lisa! Could you tell us a little bit about Assassin’s Cafe?
First, thank you for having me as a guest. I love the blog and the exposure it offers. Assassin’s Café is a tale of contemporary relationships both between people and with one’s profession, and the ethics involved in dealing with both. It is also about finding family in a generation where everything is instantly available and the past deemed not so relevant to many. Ariel Evans, the lead character, is a deputy prosecutor in Seattle, Washington. She, like many women today, is both entwined with, and repulsed by, her profession. Her work “family” consists of her longtime boyfriend, David Iron Necklace, and a Seattle detective, Rene Lisojo. David is the assistant King County coroner. When Ariel is assigned to cover her first homicide, she, Rene and David eventually uncover something untoward about the whole affair, not the least of which is a very “convenient” suspect. Ariel is torn between bringing forth the truth, protecting her own ascending career, and giving her heart and soul to one she truly loves. It has a lot of action, suspense and, yes, romantic drama.
What led you to write this novel?
I had the privilege of having author Ruth Beebe Hill as a friend and mentor when I first graduated from law school and moved to Seattle. I began corresponding with her in 1991 or 1992 when my husband asked me to write to her and introduce myself. She was a friend of my husband’s mother and had known my husband since he was a little boy. Mrs. Hill felt I had the ability to become a professional author, but emphasized that I needed to focus less on making a story up and more on basing my first “professional” novel on reality. Every time a possible storyline presented itself, I would run it by her. Finally, in 1996, my husband and I had the rare opportunity to live in New Jersey in an historic house that had belonged to my grandparents. Built in 1710, it was full of family secrets that even my father did not know. I started reading through family papers and made some startling discoveries. I called Mrs. Hill and she said simply, “There’s your story.” And I began writing.
How did your experience as a prosecutor shape the story? What other experiences contributed to your novel?
I was a prosecutor in New Jersey. And the opening scene where a body of a young woman is driven to the justice complex that housed the police station, courts, and prosecutor’s offices really happened just as it is written. Sometimes truth truly is stranger than fiction. Rene Lisojo really was a detective (he is now a sergeant and remains one of our closest friends) and much of the dialogue derives from conversations we had over the years. Working for over five years with many police officers, attorneys and judges in a fast-paced, huge city gives a lot of insight into people and how they behave. Law enforcement has its own code, its own way of handling a life where 99% of what you deal with is extremely negative and depressing. So that little microcosm of people becomes like a second family. Sometimes this closeness during work leads to illicit relationships and major drama; other times it works out for the better for the parties involved. So my actual work experience contributed almost 100% to the legal/police part of the storyline. Living in the colonial-era home and the diaries of my great-grandfather and grandmother gave me a real feel for how people lived then, how they communicated with each other, and how family worked. Some of the dialogue quoted appears as they wrote it. My husband is an Oglala Sioux who practices his traditional religion; and so David Iron Necklace, how he thinks and lives, reflects how he was raised and what his beliefs are. As Mrs. Hill noted, we can draw the best stories from life.
What was the biggest challenge of writing this book, and how did you overcome it?
Hands down, it was changing it from a work of literary fiction into something more appealing to the modern audience. It meant, to a degree, undoing what I had done with Mrs. Hill’s assistance. For example, I would write “he did not” in a conversation, as opposed to “he didn’t”. I had to “listen” to my characters speak to each other – which meant reading passages of dialogue out loud – to create a dialogue that flowed and language that did not seem stilted and outdated. It meant leaving my ego at the door and accepting that the first draft needed lots of work.
What is your best advice on writing?
Start every project as if you have never written anything before. Let the characters speak through you, not to you. And above all, whatever you write, always read it aloud. Who cares if someone thinks you’re a major loon? It will let you hear your mistakes and better perceive holes in the dialogue, plots and storyline.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Lisa!
Lisa Adams is a practicing attorney who wrote her first book when she was eleven years old. She currently resides in Nebraska near her husband’s family home. She shares a home with several dogs and cats and many, many books.
Lisa Adams can be found on: www.authorsden.com/lisaadams and www.villagegreenpressllc.blogspot.com and on Twitter under @nanikaua.
Assassin’s Cafe is available at: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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