M.R. HALL and SCOTT TUROW in Conversation

Written by Ayo Onatade

When one thinks of legal thrillers, the first name that will come to mind to well informed readers is Scott Turow.  Yes, we all know about John Grisham but it is Turow that is considered to be the author that introduced readers to this sub-genre of thrillers.   Having just finished writing an article which was in essence an introduction to legal thrillers it was thus with delight and anticipation that I attended on Tuesday 12 November 2013 an event where Turow was talking to a fellow crime writer and former barrister M(att) R Hall.  Unlike most events, which normally take place in a bookshop this, took place at 7 Bedford Row Chambers, which are barrister’s chambers. 

 

Matt Hall has written for television and for Kavanagh QC and was also part of the production company for the television programme Judge John Deed.  In his introduction, he mentioned that he always liked reading and of course read Turow, Grisham and the late Elmore Leonard especially whilst travelling.



Scott Turow explained that he decided to set his books in the fictional Kindle County and that some characters from Presumed Innocent can also be found in different books. Talking about his background, he pointed out that he started off initially as a federal prosecutor before he changed “sides” and became a defence prosecutor.  Until he became a defence prosecutor, he had never tried a case.  His impulse to write stemmed from childhood.  He found it more appealing than going to Hollywood or to work in advertising. Hollywood he said are very unpredictable in their tastes. For example they are now interested in comic books.  When it came to writing his first novel, he realised that he was not really a short story writer and that he preferred the long form.  He wrote it in longhand in a notebook and it took him 8 years.  He was not conscious of writing a legal thriller and thought that he was writing a mystery with psychological depth. He was rather amazed about the way in which Presumed Innocent took off. 

 

Matt Hall explained that he was the opposite.  He came from a family of writers, went into law and then back to writing.  It took him 8 months to write his first novel.

 

Turow was also asked that why due to the success of Presumed Innocent did he continue to practice? He explained that there were many reasons why he continued.  In Chicago, for example being a celebrity is rare also, he was of the view that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.  Furthermore, he liked practising law and being amongst lawyers.  When asked about the response from his fellow legal colleagues, he stated that the legal community in Chicago is quite small and most of his legal colleagues were quite proud of him and the book.

 

 They also went on to discuss his new book Identical.  It is about identical twins.  The theme is more political than legal.  A campaign is wrecked by a security man.  Identical has strong views on political funding and examines how political funding is affecting political democracy.  He understands the logic of it but thinks that it should be regulated.  He feels that there should be a constitutional amendment so that congress may regulate spending on politics.  One of the other topics that was discussed was whether or not people realised that writers of fiction wrote to express their own views.  Turow was clear in pointing out that he was writing novels and not political tracts. He has no intention of standing on a soapbox as he felt that nothing was black or white in his books.

 

Matt Hall pointed out that he felt that writers of fiction have quite a powerful voice, which is shown from the fact that fiction is still a potent force, and still a position of real sincerity.

 

Turow further explained that he worked on capital cases and that as a prosecutor he had worked on a case that had made him think.  By the time, he had finished as a prosecutor if he had a death penalty case her felt that he would have been able to prosecute.   As a defence lawyer, he began to rethink his views on the death penalty.  It resulted in him becoming an opponent of the death penalty.  He felt that there will always be cases that stimulate rightful wrath.   One of the other things of the US system of justice that he would like to see questioned is access to justice being equal between the rich and the poor.  He explained that many poor people were legally oppressed.

 

Talking again about his writing, he said that he normally knew how his novels end but that this was not the case with Identical.  He blundered his way through the book for a year.

 

He was also asked which contemporary British novelists did he enjoy reading?  He said that he had a varied taste when it came to books but Ian McEwan, John Le Carré, Ruth Rendell, Sebastian Faulks and Sebastian Barry came to mind.

 

Asked about his next book Turow explained that it would be set in an international court.

 

After the event Scott Turow and Matt Hall patiently signed books before joining the reception and chatting to the fans who had come to the event.

 

More information about Scott Turow and his books can be found on his website.  You can also follow him on Twitter @scottturow and on Facebook.



Photos © Ayo Onatade 2013



left to right: M.R. Hall, Ayo Onatade and Scott Tuow

 

Identical

 

State Senator Paul Giannis is a candidate for Mayor of Kindle County. His identical twin brother Cass is newly released from prison, 25 years after pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, Dita Kronon. When Evon Miller, an ex-FBI agent who is the head of security for the Kronon family business, and private investigator Tim Brodie begin a re-investigation of Dita's death, a complex web of murder, sex, and betrayal-as only Scott Turow could weave-dramatically unfolds...



 

Published 7th November 2013, Mantle, Hardback £18.99



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M.R. Hall



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