Reading, Storytelling, and Deep Point of View

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What am I reading? 

 

Gray Mountain John Grisham

 

 

John Grisham has a new hero . . . and she’s full of surprises

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

 

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It’s no surprise that international sensation John Grisham is a grand storyteller, but now I know why. Gray Mountain is about the story of a big city lawyer, Samantha Kofer, who ends up in a small time town of Brady, Virginia. Everything she worked for is nearly gone when her law firm folds under stressful circumstances of a recession. Now forced to work for free under limitations of her employer, she has to go up against big time coal mining companies in the middle of nowhere.

Right away I was drawn into the point of view and mindset of Samantha Kofer as she navigates life after the big city. Storytelling is all about people in the midst of challenging situations. This is her story. Really looking forward to the rest of the book!

 

 

What am I anticipating next?

 

 

Killing Season image

 

 

Let it bleed. Watch it burn.

The first shot punches through the windshield of an SUV. A head shot. The driver’s death is instantaneous.

By the time Special Agent Violet Darger arrives in Atlanta, the city teeters toward panic. The vacant streets and restaurants paint an eerie picture. No one dares to venture out.

A killer walks among them. A shadow. And the public cowers just the way he wants them to.

A sniper along I-20 kills eight and causes a 36 car pileup. The next morning, the same individual stalks through a grocery store parking lot with a handgun, taking out six innocent shoppers along with the store’s front window before fleeing without a trace.

Once more Agent Darger must identify with a murderer, must stare into the darkest recesses of mankind to anticipate his next move. Putting herself in his head may be the only way to stop him. But what hatred drives a man to such desperate, violent acts? What damage? And what price must one pay to invite that chaos inside themselves?

 

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I just finished the first book, Dead End Girl and LOVED IT.  There are good writers, great writers, and those who bring you so deep into the point of view their characters are indelibly impressed upon you. The Violet Darger FBI series by L.T. Vargus & Tim McBain is of the latter category. The prose is quite remarkable. The ability to capture a scene so well it invokes physical reactions in the reader as its replayed in 3D.

I’ve really been enjoying the deep point of view of characters recently. Listened to the audiobook of Dead End Girl so I feel like I know Protagonist Violet Darger. Seeing her reactions, fears, vulnerabilities, strength, secrets, family, history was quite the ride. Now I’m definitely looking forward to book 2! The Killing Season A Gripping Serial Killer Thriller.

 

 

 

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Andy Siegel Discusses Justice & His Legal Thriller Series

 

©Michael Paras Photography (973) 476-3988

 

 

Andy Siegel maintains a special commitment to representing survivors of traumatic brain injury in his practice of law. He is on the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and of the Brain Injury Association of New York State. His many trial successes have regularly placed those outcomes among the “Top 100 Verdicts” reported in the state annually. A graduate of Tulane University and Brooklyn Law School, he now lives outside of the greater NYC area. 

 

Andy Siegel is also the author of several adventurous legal thrillers, three of which are newly released today.

 

 

NellyEltonJenna

 

 

 

A Time with the Author

 

 

In your bio you twice mention your “sense of justice.” What does that mean, and how does it affect your work as a lawyer and a novelist?

 

My sense of justice is an internal feeling I get when my hard-fought legal efforts have resulted in achieving an outcome I know to be more than fair and reasonable. And … the resolution leaves my client with an impression of satisfactory closure. As a novelist, I create good versus evil and/or David versus Goliath scenarios in my stories. So I believe a sense of justice is attained for my eponymous character when the readers find themselves viewing Tug Wyler as an ambulance chaser they can root for.

 

 

 

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What is the civil justice system?

The best and only game in town. Where people can come under one roof and address real grievances in a civilized way, judged by members of their own community. I’ve never considered any area of law other than personal injury, embracing the fact that the media likes to poke fun at guys like me. Any related scene you’ve ever viewed in a movie or on television will show a guy in a neck brace, representing a scammer of the system. I get it and appreciate its humor too. I mean, just look at the home page of my andysiegel.com website. It reads: “Finally, an ambulance chaser you can root for …”

 

But I specialize in injury cases involving traumatic brain insult. My commitment to these individuals extends beyond the courthouse walls, as I sit on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of New York State. I represent real people whose lives, and those of their families’ lives, have been tragically altered in a nanosecond of negligent conduct. I try to make life easier for those folks who—through no fault of their own face a future long in challenges. For some, that challenge is just getting out of bed in the morning.

 

 

You strike me as a natural storyteller. Name the similarities of trials, cases, and victims to storytelling.

Each has a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s that simple. But, if you’re going to be a storytelling novelist, you also need an audience. In court, my audience is captive, with a court officer keeping them in that jury box until their service is over.

 

 

 

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You stated “Justice is something you shouldn’t have to compete for, … but it is.” In light of this statement, what are the flaws of the adversarial nature of the justice system?

The flaws are not in the system per se but rather in the manner in which an injured individual selects and hires their lawyer. People spend hours and hours researching what car they’re going to buy, but that same person will hire any accident lawyer upon the recommendation of a friend—or even a friend of a friend—without doing any due diligence. The fact of the matter is, not every lawyer has the requisite knowledge and experience to handle cases of significant proportion. Especially when it comes to traumatic brain injury (TBI), an area I have a compassionate interest in.

And I’m not the “right guy” for every TBI survivor with a lawsuit. There has to be a particular connection between the attorney and the client in these matters for things to be holistic. For a greater understanding of the message I’m hoping to share here visit: http://tbihelpline.com/traumatic-brain-injury-lawyer-new-york/, which memorializes a lecture I gave at the annual conference of the Brain Injury Association of New York State called the“Dos and Don’ts of Hiring a TBI Lawyer.”

And what I mean by “justice is something you shouldn’t have to compete for” is that your case will only be as good as the lawyer you hire. If the other side has a better lawyer, then you may lose that competition for justice.

 

 

 

Who is Tug Wyler?

 

Part me, part my alter ego. But you knew that already. However, I live in the real world and not a fictional one, so I’m unable to follow Tug Wyler’s model as he goes about representing his clients in such an antic, creative, and risk-taking way.

 

 

What motivates him?

 

What keeps Tug digging deeper and deeper into the circumstances giving rise to his legal retention is his compulsion, like mine, to make the system work for the injured victim, an outcome the big insurance companies vigorously resist. Please remember, as I always do, that there’s no one type of victim. We’re all vulnerable.

 

 

 

 

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Do you have any other creative ideas for books besides the Tug Wyler series?

Easiest question of the bunch. No. Every single word in the Tug Wyler Mystery Series is derived from, inspired by, and influenced by each and every legal case I’ve handled over the years. I write from a true insider’s perspective. So, I’m not very confident that I could write an engaging book outside of this series. I have written a screenplay though …

 

 

 

 

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How did you go from “not knowing what you wanted to do” to Brooklyn Law School?

 

My college roommate made a very compelling argument in support, stating, “Hey, let’s go to law school. Let’s be lawyers, get a JD degree. Knowledge is power. Power is king, and we’ll command respect from our peers. Respect.”

Sounded good to me. My only plan at that moment was a decision whether to get a Domilise’s hot sausage po’boy or to go to the Camellia Grill for a piece of pecan pie. I recall being stretched out on our disgusting couch, sore from lacrosse practice, thinking how I needed to investigate this lawyer thing a bit more, already knowing exactly who I needed to speak to: my childhood next-door neighbor Jack B. Weinstein, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson.

As I grew up, Jack had taught me a lot of useful stuff over the years—how to change a flat tire on my bike, how to bait a hook and scale a fish, and how to use a lock wrench, among many other things. One day on college break, I walked down his driveway. He gave me his patented smile and said, “Back from New Orleans. Great, here.” He handed me a potato sack and a broomstick. Jack, for certain, was the only person in Great Neck, Long Island, who owned a potato sack.

Anyway, he led me to his fenced-in garden, which was on a narrow tract of land between the Long Island Sound and the Library Pond, where I asked what the sack and the stick were for. He responded with a pointed finger. What I saw was a gaggle of Canadian geese swimming in the Library Pond.

“And?” was my next question, which led to his second finger point. A gosling was stuck in his garden, trying to get out by repeatedly attempting to jump through one of the square openings in the wire fence. Unfortunately the little guy was too big to get through, and, with each jump, he scraped the top of his head on the wire, which wound was now bloody and deep. “Jack, why don’t I just pick him up and put him over?”

He responded, “Go stand in front of the fence, and, when I pick up that chick, you ward off mama goose with the stick and the sack.”

I gave him a curious look, which was met with a You’ll understand in a moment expression. The one thing I knew about Jack was that he was always right, so I didn’t question him and took my position.

Jack asked, “Ready?”I nodded, and, when he went to pick up the tiny frightened chick, it began squeaking some alarm call. This cry for help caused mama goose to take off like a high-powered fighter seaplane on a dive-bombing mission, flying straight at my head at forty miles per hour. Barely fending her off, I screamed, “What the fuck, Jack?” realizing I had just sworn at the highest and most prestigious federal judge in New York State. Turning back to him, I saw that little ball of fluff was in the exact same place it had been before the mom took her run at me. Unnerved, I asked, “What’s up?” Jack responded, “I couldn’t get a grip on him.” Now I’m not one to take issue with a famous federal judge—and famous he was—but I did strongly urge him to get a hold next round, which didn’t happen until after four more attempts and close encounters with a highly protective and dangerous mama goose.

Recovering from our confrontation, we found ourselves sitting on a bench, facing the Long Island Sound, next to his rowboat. Over the years, Jack and I had had several conversations on this bench, but this was the most important one. I said, “Jack, I’m thinking of going to law school. Why’d you go?”

He responded, “I didn’t know what to do next.” That was good enough for me. He added, “I’d be happy to write a recommendation but don’t apply to Columbia Law School.”

I said, “Thanks, but why not Columbia?” He didn’t hesitate. “Because you’ll get in, but you’re not qualified.” He of course was right again.

Long story short, my roommate didn’t show up for the LSAT test or apply to law school, but I owe him dearly for that “knowledge is power” speech, for that conversation propelled me to go to law school. I will add that I love what I do.

 

 

 

NellyEltonJenna

 

 

ANDY SIEGEL

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Book Review: The Advocate’s Daughter by Anthony Franze

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A Washington, D.C. lawyer and a frequent major media commentator on the Supreme Court, Anthony Franze delivers a high-stakes story of family, power, loss and revenge set within the insular world of the highest court of our country.

Among Washington D.C. power players, everyone has secrets they desperately want to keep hidden, including Sean Serrat, a Supreme Court lawyer. Sean transformed his misspent youth into a model adulthood, and now has one of the most respected legal careers in the country. But just as he learns he’s on the short list to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, his daughter, Abby, a talented and dedicated law student, goes missing. Abby’s lifeless body is soon found in the library of the Supreme Court, and her boyfriend, Malik Montgomery, a law clerk at the high court, is immediately arrested. The ensuing media frenzy leads to allegations that Malik’s arrest was racially motivated, sparking a national controversy.

While the Serrat family works through their grief, Sean begins to suspect the authorities arrested the wrong person. Delving into the mysteries of his daughter’s last days, Sean stumbles over secrets within his own family as well as the lies of some of the most powerful people in the country. People who will stop at nothing to ensure that Sean never exposes the truth.

 

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I’ve been on a legal thriller kick recently.  Not sure if you’ve heard of Anthony Franze, a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice in a Washington, D.C. law firm, but he write’s a great book. From beginning to end, I peeled the pages in great suspense to find out what happened. A Supreme Court nominee is set to make history with the “cat in the bag”…Well, until he discovers his daughter is found dead the Supreme Court library. As he sets out to find the truth behind her murder, the plot unravels along with everything else in his life. Great book!

 

 

 

Five Gold Stars

 

 

 

 

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ANTHONY FRANZE is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, and a critically acclaimed thriller writer with novels set in the nation’s highest court. Franze has been a commentator on legal and Supreme Court issues for The New Republic, Bloomberg, National Law Journal, and other major media outlets. He is a board member and a Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization. Franze lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. Learn more at www.anthonyfranzebooks.com

 

 

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