Lisa Scottoline: From Barrister To Book Author
Divorce is often an unpleasant thing, but Lisa Scottoline did derive a major benefit when she and her first husband went their separate ways. It helped lead to her career as a best-selling crime writer.
“I had a baby and a divorce right about the same time. Even though I loved being a lawyer, as a single mother, I didn’t think it would work that well. Litigators hours are tough. I thought ‘you always wanted to be a writer. You majored in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Why don’t you try to write one of these things?’ Scottoline said.
Scottoline also said there was another motivating factor to her decision to write crime fiction.
“I noticed there weren’t a lot of woman protagonists in crime fiction or legal thrillers, we were still pouring coffee. I thought ‘I’m a lawyer, I can write this. Why don’t I give it a shot?’ Five years of rejection later, finally got a career, which was wonderful.”
Scottoline said her parents were incredibly supportive of her decision to leave law to pursue her new career.
“I grew up in an Italian-American family, where there were a lot of meatballs and a lot of unconditional love, which was wonderful. When I said: ‘Listen, I’m going to leave this great job to be with my daughter,’ they totally got that,” Scottoline said.
When Scottoline’s daughter turned six, she returned to work part time as a law clerk, which she was able to do because both her parents helped babysit her child.
“They just were the best. They just loved me to death and supported me, no matter what.”
For Scottoline, bringing the Italian-American experience into her books, in particular her series featuring the law firm of Rosato and DiNunzio, allows her own voice to come through in her work.
“The whole point is that voice is something that is just you saying something in your truest way. Whenever you are writing, I just try to be myself and real. So when you go to write a character, you just tap into something within yourself,” Scottoline said.
When it comes to writing, Scottoline follows something that film director Francis Ford Copolla said: ‘Nothing in my movies has ever happened, but all of it is true.’
“I always think that because you are telling a story, but the emotional truth of any novel I write is emotionally true, it is solid,” she said.
Scottoline’s latest novel “Exposed” pits law-firm partners Benedetta “Bennie” Rosato and Mary DiNunzio against each other. The case revolves around a man who sues his employer when he is terminated because the cost of his daughter’s cancer diagnosis is straining the company’s finances.
“Wouldn’t it be interesting if Bennie and Mary find themselves at legal loggerheads? It turns out that Bennie represents a parent company that Mary represents a subsidiary of…I thought that would be kind of kosher, but as I started to do the research in the law, I found out, ethically it is really problematic.”
“Bennie is saying to Mary: ‘You can’t take that case, because I represent the parent (company),” she said. “Mary is saying, ‘I’m your partner, you don’t tell me what to do.”
“The case is really heart-tugging. I did a lot of research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I was on the transport floor, seeing real lives being saved and what the parents go through with these critically ill children, and what the children go through too. I said, ‘I want to write about that and I want that to be the real emotional heart of this novel.”
Wednesday August 16 at 7 p.m., Lisa Scottoline will discuss her latest novel “Exposed” at the Cuyahoga County Public Library-Parma Snow Branch.
Listen to the entire interview