Across a Crowded Courtroom

Practising law gets pretty complicated, and lawyers can become so caught up in their work that they don’t get out nearly enough. Result? A whole bunch of office romances between lawyers, staff, and other professions they rub shoulders with.

All the invitation that Anna Clifton, Lena Dowling, and Julie Mac needed to write three legal themed romances.

Determined to investigate, Escape Publishing brought them in for questioning…

legally addicted

The Motive

Legal stories have always been popular if the plethora of legally inspired TV shows and novels is anything to go by, but what inspired you to write a legal romance?

Anna: Lawyers: Love them or hate them, we can’t seem to ignore them. And whether they’re noble warriors or evil incarnate, it might simply be their dogged irrepressibility that we can’t look away from in case we miss something interesting. It was that quality which inspired my debut novel, Falling for the Lawyer. What would happen, I wondered, if I placed an irrepressible legal eagle like JP McKenzie at complete cross-purposes with his equally single-minded PA, Alex Farrer? One thing was certain: neither would give in without a fight.

Lena: Georgia Murray and Brad Spencer’s story Legally Addicted has been rattling around in my head since I was in law school. As the years went by the characters came into sharper and sharper focus until they started demanding that their story be told. Okay – the heroine started demanding. Brad is more the strong, powerful, never to be underestimated – silent type. Whereas Georgia, having clawed her way to the top with nothing more than her own natural fingernails reinforced with a couple of layers of base coat, is a grittily determined, feisty, take no prisoners kind of girl.

Julie: I didn’t set out to write a legal romance — let’s just say it happened of its own accord. I set out to tell a story about a particular young woman, one Kelly Atkinson. It was her decision that she become a lawyer, not mine. I do remember the moment of inspiration when I knew I had to write a story about Kelly: I saw an image — on TV or in the newspaper, I can’t remember — but the image is still imprinted on my brain. A woman was walking into a prison to visit her husband, and a little girl held her hand. What, I wondered, would it be like for a little girl to have her much-loved daddy locked up in prison? And so A Father at Last was born.

The Scene

8907The law is played out in a range of settings from corporate to small town practice, and from civil to criminal law. Where does the action take place in your novel, and how does that relate to the story?

Anna: In Falling for the Lawyer the action takes place in a high-end, boutique law firm. It’s also the only place Alex wants to work, despite the weight of family pressure on her to leave her job. But her trouble really begins when the new Head of Litigation arrives on a mission to cut excess staff, including Alex. One way or the other, JP McKenzie’s office would become the turning point setting for the rest of her life.

Lena: Georgia and Brad meet in the beating heart of Sydney where out on the streets inestimable wealth and success rubs shoulders with gut wrenching struggle, homelessness and addiction – precisely mirroring the differences between Georgia and Brad’s backgrounds. On the outside Georgia has achieved material and professional success, but on the inside she still feels like the poor scholarship kid, wearing daggy out-of-fashion clothes, and living on the wrong side of town, battling to succeed.

Julie: Okay, settings: Auckland’s pretty beaches, a romantic country garden (with a honeymoon suite), a windswept cemetery — and the Auckland District Court. It’s at the latter that young public defence lawyer Kelly and bad-boy Ben Carter’s lives collide again after a gap of nearly seven years. The last time they met, they shared a night of passion which left Kelly with a broken heart, a myriad of memories and a beautiful legacy that will last a lifetime.

The Suspects and their Crimes of Passion

8902What can you tell us to whet our appetite about the characters and their attraction to one another…?

Anna: Suspect JP McKenzie is armed with a dangerous intuition and an indomitable will. If by chance Alex Farrer finds herself alone with him, or worse still, he tries to lure her away from irreversible life choices, she should not underestimate the danger she is in. Current police recommendations are that she turns her back on him, covers her ears, and hums very loudly until back-up can be called in to rescue her from a future she gave up on long ago.

Lena: Georgia has built barriers around herself that only ancient Chinese wall builders could rival. It’s going to take the most patient, understanding and ‘equally determined in his own stoic way’ hero ever, to break through that shell. But even a hero like Brad, who has all that in spades, can only do it if Georgia will stop fighting long enough to let him.

Julie: Kelly comes with baggage, lots of it. But she hides it well under a facade of lawyerly sensibility. Ben is a no-go area, as far as she’s concerned. There can never be anything between them. Apart from their six-year-old son, Dylan. And Dylan is all the more reason to stay well clear of Ben. And Ben? Handsome, cheeky, sexy Ben, schoolboy computer hacker turned street gang associate … well, let’s just say Ben’s a bit of a mystery.

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