Delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Scribe by A.A. Chaudhuri with a guest post from the author about her transition from lawyer to writer.
Making it as a lawyer has always been a cutthroat business. But now that a sadistic serial killer is on the loose the consequences could prove deadly…
A killer is targeting former students of The Bloomsbury Academy of Law. The victims – all female – are gruesomely butchered according to a pattern corresponding with the legal syllabus.
Even more disconcerting are riddles sent by the killer to investigating officer, Chief Inspector Jake Carver, offering clues as to who is next and where they will die.
Up-and-coming lawyer Madeline Kramer, a former classmate of a number of the slain, soon finds her life turned upside down by the savagery. And when she decides to help Carver track down the killer, she places herself in mortal danger.
Can Maddy unscramble the complex riddles, save her own life and those of others destined to die?
A. A. Chaudhuri’s Ripper-like mystery The Scribe throws down a challenge even hardened crime thriller fans will be unable to resist.
From lawyer to writer. What inspired The Scribe, and are there any parallels between crime writing and law?
As a former lawyer, I often get asked if The Scribe was inspired by a case I worked on. The simple answer is no. I didn’t practise criminal law, I was a commercial litigator, meaning I mainly advised companies on civil disputes and nothing as grisly as a murder charge.
So, if not from a case, where did the idea come from? Well, I’m glad to say that no one was murdered at any of the firms I worked for. Although that doesn’t mean the idea won’t have crossed my colleagues’ minds! During my time in the City, I came across some rather unpleasant characters who earned a reputation for all the wrong reasons. This, together with the punishing hours, can really test a person’s sanity, and strain relationships to the brink. But no one, as far as I know (!), resorted to murder. Having said that, the firm where my heroine – Maddy Kramer – works is certainly based on the corporate firm where I trained in terms of its size and culture. But my main inspiration for the plot came from my time as a student at the London College of Law, now the University of Law.
After getting a degree in History, I spent two years at the College of Law, and in the first year did what’s known as the law conversion course where I studied and took exams in seven legal subjects. Crime was one of them, and although I didn’t become a criminal lawyer (frankly, I didn’t have the stomach or the temperament for it!), crime was my favourite subject on the course, at the end of which I was pretty much able to recite the reams of case law thrown at us in my sleep!! There’s no denying it, distilling a three-year law degree in ten months was gruelling, but it was also one of the best years of my life. My tutor group were a fun, supportive bunch, and I made life-long friends in the process. Anyway, although I don’t want to give too much away, it’s these seven legal subjects which form a crucial part of the plot in The Scribe, and therefore played a huge role in inspiring the novel. My time in the capital also influenced the locations featured in The Scribe. I lived in London for thirteen years and so it’s only natural for me to write about those areas I’m most familiar with and can therefore hopefully portray with authenticity. North-West London, for example, was my home for several years, while I’ve always been a fan of London’s royal parks. Both feature in my novel. Having said that, by the time I started writing The Scribe, I’d been living in Surbiton for two years, and therefore made a point of returning to these and other locations armed with notepad and pen to refresh my mind; literally ‘living’ the last movements of my victims in order to make the murder scenes as real and chilling as possible.
Although crime writing is in many respects a world away from working in law, there are definite parallels. For one, both require a methodical approach. Just as a lawyer must adopt a rational, step-by-step approach to a case, mapping out strategy in line with legal procedure, outlining the facts accurately and coherently, crime writing demands similar meticulous planning and attention to detail. For example, plausible plotting, the gradual unveiling of a credible culprit, while throwing in red herrings, twists and turns along the way to keep readers engaged and turning the pages. After all, you don’t want them guessing too early, just as a lawyer doesn’t want the other side guessing his firm’s game plan too early. In both fields, it’s vital to keep that element of surprise! Similarly, as a lawyer must painstakingly research the law and his client’s business in order to advise them effectively, research forms another crucial element of crime writing so as to make the story convincing and believable, and not lay yourself open to criticism by experts in the field you are writing about; for example, police procedure.
Although law wasn’t for me long-term, and there’s no doubt that I’ve found my true vocation in life with writing, I’m so grateful for the life experience and skills it gave me, without which I would never have been able to pen The Scribe!
A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. After gaining a degree in History at University College London, she trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. In addition to books featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, she has written four stand-alone novels, including racy thriller, Illicit Retainers, and political thriller, The Darker Side of White. She lives in Surrey with her family.