Meet the author: J.E. Conery
Greetings! Welcome to another author interview! J.E. Conery is the author of a legal mystery novel with a unique main character and a vivid setting. You can check out his book here, but in the meantime, spend a few minutes with the author himself:
Meet the Author: J.E. Conery
1. What is your favorite part of the writing process, and least favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite part is the creative aspect. In writing fiction, you can just let your mind wander and then catch flying thoughts as they whiz by and put them together in a creative way. You are creating characters, plot lines, twists and putting it altogether. While that part is fun, the real work is the editing process. In your own mind you think you have everything perfect and when you’re finally “done”, you’re ready to print it. But you can’t do that, you need an editor who can point out the things that might need adjusting to make the story better. Maybe there’s a character that really doesn’t advance the story and consideration should be given to getting rid of them. Maybe the story needs another character to tie some things together. Maybe a plot line is just not making sense and needs to be reworked. Having someone point out flaws and suggesting how you should change your story is certainly not my favorite part, but it is necessary. Aside from the work and tedium involved with editing, you are quite vulnerable and that can be a little unsettling, too. All-in-all, however, the good outweighs the bad and I would urge anyone who is considering writing a book to do so. Even if they never finish it, there’s something very satisfying to beginning the process.
2. In Project Azalea, you introduce your readers to quite a wide variety of lawyers and legal professionals. In your first-hand experience as a lawyer, are these depictions pretty accurate, or embellished for story purposes?
I’d say there’s a mixed bag. The overwhelming majority of lawyers are like Jimmy and Rachel; honest, hard workers, and strong advocates for their clients. There is that less than ½ of one percent, however, that emulate Oscar; arrogant, entitled, aggressive, greedy, reckless, and blatantly dishonest. In this regard, Oscar is definitely embellished for the benefit of the story. I’m very happy to say that I have never met nor even worked with an Oscar, and I’ve always worked with Jimmys and Rachels. I would add that Prudence and Bernadette are fairly representative of most paralegals and legal professionals with whom I’ve worked. Like Jimmy and Rachel, they are honest, hardworking, smart, resourceful, and empathetic.
3. Who is someone who has inspired you creatively?
Sidney Sheldon. I saw an interview with Sidney Sheldon, and he was asked about his writing process. Normally, he would develop characters and plot lines over a long period of time. For the book Tell Me Your Dreams, however, he changed it up. He had an idea for a character, and he decided to let the character tell the story. I spent a great deal of time thinking of characters and developing plot lines for Project Azalea, but everything clicked when I let Prudence tell the story, and when I did that, it all flowed naturally. I am going to carry that method in the sequel which will pick up at the end of Project Azalea. Ironically, although he inspired me, I’ve never read one of Sheldon’s books.
4. What kind of books do you gravitate toward in your own reading life?
I alternate between two genres: legal/mystery thrillers and interesting history/biographies. I read James Lee Burke, John Grisham, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, Greg Isles, and David Baldacci. I also read books like Eiffel’s Tower by Dr. Jill Jonnes which is about the period when Gustave Eiffel was in the throws of building the tower. I’m not much for romance, horror, or non-fiction books. I’m not as avid a reader these days. Between working on Project Azalea, kids in college, working on a sequel, and the fact that I read and write all day in my job, I find myself chilling out and watching TV more these days.
5. What is your superpower?
As an international attorney for 30 years, I’ve learned to listen and intuit what others are communicating. While English is the dominate language in the business world, English isn’t the first language of many of the people I’ve run across. Between local colloquialisms, cultures, and business strategies, you sometimes have to say the same thing in different ways to confirm there is a common understanding. A great example I use when speaking to groups of businessmen is the scene in My Cousin Vinny where Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio’s character) is being questioned at the police station. When he’s accused of shooting the clerk he exclaims “I shot the clerk?” I added the question mark for emphasis. If you transcribe the conversation exactly, Gambini said that he shot the clerk. The transcript did not carry his intonation or real meaning. The cop is from Alabama, and Gambini is from New York. When Gambini says ‘I shot the clerk’ what he’s really saying is, ‘Who? Me? You think I shot the clerk? No way!’. I suppose my superpower, then, is understanding what you are saying and effectively communicating my message back to you.
6. What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever gotten (about anything!)?
When I was graduating law school, I asked my dad (a lawyer at the time) for some words of wisdom. At the time I was not sure whether I would go to a law firm and enter the litigation realm and try lawsuits. He was a trial lawyer, so his advice was simple; when you are sworn into the bar, bring a few dozen donuts to the Clerk of Court’s office. I asked why and he asked me whether I knew what the clerk’s office did. I really didn’t know so he explained it. Judges preside over the cases in their courtroom. The clerk’s office runs the courthouse. The employees are civil servants, not elected officials and the courthouse is their career. Every year they see young lawyers who think they know everything, some of whom are quite full of themselves. By bringing a bunch of donuts, you are showing a sign of respect. You are acknowledging that they exist and are an important part of the judicial process. Well, I didn’t go into trial practice, I went into the corporate world. But I took that advice with me, and I give it to every young person I speak with. While he was a senior in high school my son shadowed at an engineering firm. He brought donuts and kolaches and was very popular.
Bye everyone! Talk soon.