By KJ Howe
Please welcome talented MIRA author Laura Caldwell to the Lair.
I asked Laura to answer a few questions about her background and book. Laura, thanks so much for joining us today!
Describe your latest book in 15 words or fewer
In Claim of Innocence, Izzy and her best friend, Maggie, defend a woman charged with poisoning her own best friend.
What inspired you to write CLAIM OF INNOCENCE?
I'm admit I'm sort of marrying my real life with my fictional life in Claim of Innocence. My character, Izzy McNeil, is a redheaded Chicagoan who worked as a civil lawyer most of her career but has fallen into the world of criminal defense. That comes pretty close to my life. I used to be a civil lawyer, defending doctors who were sued. I never thought I'd be working with exonerees. I feel incredibly fortunate.
Where do you do most of your writing?
In one of two places: If I’m in Chicago, I write in what the real estate agent grandly called ‘the penthouse room.’ Basically it’s a sunny room off the roof deck. It’s filled with red and white furniture (keeps me awake), a curvy book shelf laden with reference books and a street sign bolted to the wall that reads, STOP HERE ON RED.
The other place I love to write is in Long Beach, Indiana, a place of hidden beauty. In the summer, I sit on the deck and am surrounded by a sea of green from all the trees. In the winter, you can find me in front of the fire.
Which part of CLAIM OF INNOCENCE was the most enjoyable to write?
I love writing about 26th and Cal, which is the home of Chicago criminal courts and many of its jails. Everyone who has ever been there will tell you that it has the craziest energy—part thrilling, part desperate, part seen-it-all, part wildly optimistic. I like appearing there as a lawyer and I like writing about it too.
What inspired you to write your first book?
When I first started writing after law school, I wrote a story called Burning the Map about a girlfriends’ trip to Italy and Greece that changes their lives. I had taken a trip to Italy and Greece similar to the one that the character followed, but mine, albeit ludicrously fun, was not life changing. It was a blast to write that book.
And now, a little bit about Laura:
Laura Caldwell is a former civil trial attorney, now Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Director of Life After Innocence, published author of several novels and 1 nonfiction book.
Before beginning her writing career, Laura was a partner in a Chicago law firm, specializing in medical malpractice defense and entertainment law. In 2001 she joined Loyola University Chicago School of Law and has taught Advanced Litigation Writing and International Criminal Law among others.
Laura began her writing career in women’s fiction and soon turned to mystery/thriller. Her first book, Burning the Map was voted as one of the best books the year by Barnes and Noble.com. Booklist declared “Caldwell is one of the most talented and inventive…writers around,” after the release of The Year of Living Famously and The Night I got Lucky. The release of her trilogy in 2009 received critical acclaim and nominations for prestigious industry awards.
While researching her sixth novel, The Rome Affair, Caldwell was led to the criminal case of Jovan Mosley, a young man charged with murder, sitting in a Cook County holding cell for nearly six years with no trial date. After hearing about his case, Caldwell joined a renowned criminal defense attorney to defend him, ultimately proving his innocence and inspiring her first nonfiction book, Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him (Free Press, Simon & Schuster).
She is published in over 22 countries and translated into more than 13 languages. Laura is also a freelance magazine writer and has been publi shed in Chicago Magazine, Woman's Own, The Young Lawyer, Lake Magazine, Australia Woman's Weekly, Shore Magazine and others.
Inspired by Mosley’s case and his challenges of rejoining society, Caldwell founded Loyola’s Life After Innocence that assists wrongfully convicted individuals or other innocent persons affected by the criminal justice system in order to help them re-enter society and reclaim their lives.
So, Laura, your writing space sounds fabulous - both in Chicago and Indiana!
Readers, what's your favorite place to curl up with a great book, like Laura's Claim of Innocence?
Also, statistics show that women are more likely to use a "hands off" method of killing, like poison rather than a "hands on" weapon like a knife or gun.
Laura, have you found this to be true in your practice of law?
Readers, which do you believe? That women will use poison first? Or do you think you'd be more direct? Grins.