Friday, June 11, 2010

author guest post: jackie fullerton

The author of Revenge Served Cold, Jackie Fullerton, stopped by to address, "In what ways does your background in business and law influence your plots and characters?" Fullerton is an Ohio attorney and businesswoman.

As an amateur protagonist, Anne Marshall, needs access that is not normally available to the general public—either through her job or her acquaintances. Anne acquired both by working in the courthouse during the day and attending law school at night. A venue I know well because I’m an attorney who attended evening law school. I lived the law classroom first hand, and felt the dread of facing Socratic law professors. In my first Tort class, when the professor called my name to recite a case, I went into brain freeze. The room spun. Even though I knew the case backward and forward, I stuttered and stammered through the case like a terrified child. The same response Anne had when called upon by Professor Spence.

Pursing a law degree at night is grueling. It has been described as a four year boot camp. Your fellow students become your family and your study group becomes your survival lifeline. Anne needed a strong support group. People she trusted and knew she could rely upon. One of my study group members was fond of saying, “A friend will give you an alibi. A good friend will help you hide the body.” My study group friends were good friends. Not that I ever needed to hide a body but Anne needed that kind of loyalty. I admit some of my study group members did find their way into Anne’s study group. And they have been quick to tell me which ones they are.

The majority of night law students are older, returning to school while working in other fields. In my class we had a coroner, a homicide detective, two FBI agents, a physician, a local news reporter, and various other professionals. In getting to know each other, we exchange interesting anecdotes and information. Some of which I have knitted or will knit into my stories. Like how to commit a perfect murder or what poisons are undetectable. (We spent way too much time together.)

After law school, my experiences at the courthouse added another dimension. Several of the cases I describe throughout the series are based on actual cases—even the absurd ones. Of course, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. (My legal training was not lost.)

I am constantly calling upon my experiences in business, law and life when developing my characters. Since my stories always involve a murder, the motives and how the characters react are influenced by people I know and have known. For me, the ability to identify with my characters, picture their day to day activity, and know what they will say even before they say it, comes from living it. Through these experiences, I feel I can add a dimension I might not be able to otherwise offer.

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