Today, Bookpleasures is pleased to have as our guest Charles Lewis author of Breaking Precedent. Charles was born in Houston, Texas and practiced as a civil litigator in the cutthroat world of trial law before earning an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. It was at the University that he had the great fortune to hone his writing skills under renowned novelists Mary Robison and Denise Chavez, as well as the playwright Edward Albee. He later served as a managing editor at Summers Press, a small legal publishing house, before he undertook the writing of Breaking Precedent. In his spare time, he loves sharing la bella vita with the residents anywhere in Italy, when he’s not fishing the fertile estuaries of his native Texas.

Good day Charles and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

When did you first consider yourself a writer and do you believe you have a a specific writing style?

Charles:

First, let me thank you for this special opportunity, Norm, to reach out to readers.

I've always enjoyed writing, creatively and otherwise. I've also loved telling stories, all my life. I didn't really consider myself a writer, however, until I honed my skills under some great writers while pursuing my MFA.

I like to think that my style is lean and rich at the same time, that it has a natural flow without superfluous words.

Norm:

What served as the primary inspiration for Breaking Precedent and how much of the book is realistic? As a follow up, what would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read your book?

Charles: An old attorney friend of mine was assured he'd make shareholder and got sandbagged by his mentor. I transformed and dramatized the story tremendously. As far as the portrayal of the law and legal system, it is also dramatized and satirized, yet largely truthful based my own experience.

I think the best reason to read Breaking Precedent is that it's engaging and amusing, but also delves into matters of our society and the human psyche.

Norm:

What do you think makes a good legal thriller?

Charles:

A good legal thriller should have unexpected twists and hairpin turns, but also a variety of three-dimensional characters who evolve with the story.

Norm:

Are the characters in your book based on people you know or have encountered or are they strictly fictional? As a follow up, how did you go about creating your protagonist, Will Lively and his girlfriend Cindy Ellis?

Charles:

I doubt much fiction is really one-hundred percent "fictional." A creative writing professor once told us we fictionalize to tell the truth. I think she meant that when we try to tell the literal truth, we tend to distort and deny things to avoid the painful truth we know.

The make-up of all my characters is mainly imaginative, creations of my muse. When she's kind enough to appear, I follow her lead. No doubt, however, the characters also derive a bit from my real-world experience. Will is an amalgamation of my muse as well as a good friend, my brother, and me too. Cindy is a distillation of my imagination and several women I've known.

Norm:

When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?

Charles:

I wrote and re-wrote the book several times. I had the service of a brilliant editor, Tiffany Yates Martin. Once we both thought the book was about as good as it could be, I considered publishing it.

Norm:

Did you know the end of your book at the beginning and what is the most favorite part of your book?

Charles:

No, I did not know the ending at the beginning. I like to think the book is more character-driven; and the characters drove the ending, rather than following an already fixed plot. The ending came to me midway through writing the book.

For me, it's hard to pinpoint a favorite part. Many people who've read the book seem to enjoy the courtroom scenes. Personally, I probably prefer the fishing scenes. They are simple, yet highly revealing and symbolic. A novelist friend of mine liked those most too. Another writing friend loved the scenes between Will and Cindy at the beach.

Norm:

What has been the best part about being published? As a follow up, did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Charles:

I think getting published gives you a false sense of finality, since writing a novel is a daunting task. Looking at marketing, however, I realize that writing a book is only the beginning, not the end.

Norm:

In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?

Charles:

I believe that taking liberties with non-fiction is more troubling than with fiction. Fiction is designed to (as William Faulkner said) reveal the "eternal verities" of the human heart. For me, the worst inaccuracy in fiction is emotional inaccuracy. Fiction is not limited to merely replicating everyday reality. Like our dreams, stories can be symbolic, surrealistic, exaggerated, satirical, or allegorical and still teach us a lot about ourselves.

Norm:

Do you have any suggestions to help our readers become better writers? If so, what are they?

Charles:

My own preference in writing is to avoid flab and fat, above all. Convey your story as concisely and intensely as possible. Oscar Wilde said "brevity is the soul of wit."Voltaire famously said "pardon me, I haven't the time to be brief." It takes much more time and effort to distill your words to the story's essence, but I think it's worth the trouble.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and Breaking Precedent?

Charles: I'm developing a website www.charlesblewisbooks.com, which should be ready shortly. Breaking Precedent will be available for sale in about a week on Amazon.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Charles:

Well, Norm, I thought all of your questions were great. But I wish you would have asked me what I believe makes my book unique. I think Breaking Precedent falls within the legal thriller/ drama genre. However, it involves more. The book is also an exploration of character. The narrator starts the book with a legalistic and linear outlook on life and ends it with a much more imaginative and less divisive one. The book examines how much our mindset shapes our perception of reality.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.


Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Breaking Precedent