Friday, November 11, 2016

Interview with author Oliver Harris

1. What inspired you to write your book?
It was a story that had to be told, of lawlessness and corruption in one of our major cities, and of the fate of an idealistic woman who challenged it.

2. What is it about?
A young, idealistic woman lawyer joins a large law firm in a major city, where she finds corruption, disillusionment and murder. The narrator has fallen in love with her, but she disappears one November. The police suspect that the narrator has abducted and killed her. The narrator thinks she has been abducted and murdered by the Mob because of her involvement with City politics. The narrator finds himself trying to decode what happened to her by tracking her young life through the corrupt and murderous city, as it is related by her letters and journals.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
I hope that they will remember what lawlessness and corruption can look like at first hand, and that we are never too frail that we can't do something about it. They will also know something more about happiness, depression, and the human heart.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
If your aim is to make money, study the popular writers and learn to spin plots like them. Most of the Public (and most publishers) just want something which would amuse readers over a week-end at the beach. Of course, these are imminently forgettable - the literary equivalent of junk food. If you aspire to write something more lasting, take experiences and slices of life and put them together into narratives that explore the human condition. My models were novels such as An American TragedyBabbitt, ArrowsmithMain Street, The Jungle, and Grapes of Wrath.

5. Where do you think that the book publishing industry is heading?
I think it is going to go the same way as television. If you are old enough to remember, TV was dominated by the Big Three, and almost no other outlets were available. In effect, the big three networks decided what you watched or what ideas you got to explore. Now with cable and direct TV, there is an indefinite number of channels, and there is room for every interest and every point of view. The same multiversity will come about in publishing, because of the ease of e-publishing. No more will there be three or four gate-keepers who will decide what they should invest in, and consequently what you can read. New, unexplored authors now have a chance to get the public's attention

6.  What challenges did you have in writing your book?
When you base your novel upon reflections about real events and real persons, the publishers are paranoid about getting sued over a copyright or a an alleged libel. As a result of several Supreme Court decisions and Congressional inaction, legal copyrights can now arise without anyone going through the traditional legal process of  perfecting a copyright. Thus anyone can come out of the woodwork, file a suit, and say that they thought of this or wrote it before, even though it was not copyrighted (in the traditional sense), and even if it was never public. As a result, I spent several months of arm-wrestling with my publisher about whether court decisions or proceedings can be copyrighted (they  can't, since the eighteenth century) or whether sculptures situated in public squares can photographed and be replicated on my cover. The list goes on. For instance, I had to find an obituary for each of the twenty some mobsters I mentioned in my narrative, even though they were written about hundreds of times in newspapers and magazines while they were still alive.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
I have read much of the world's great literature and, in comparison, I find that the average contemporary best seller is so much junk. Thus I'm unable to invest the time and money in finding the pearl in one of these oysters - though there are some. I have to wait for a title which has won some serious literary award such as the Booker Prize, the National Book Award, or the Nobel Prize before I will read it.* All I can tell you is that I tried (whether I succeeded or not) to write something which a reader like myself would be glad to have bought and read.

Oliver Harris, author of the legal thriller “JoJo” (, has spent 45 years as a trial lawyer, prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He has worked in both Chicago and in Palm Beach County, Florida. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Chicago and his law degree is from the Indiana University School of Law.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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