Interview With …. Ben Matthews author of The Pursuit Of Justice
Posted by authorcamilson
Today folks I am chatting with Ben Matthews. Author of The Pursuit Of Justice. Ben Matthews is a 58 year old life long resident of South Carolina.
Ben, thank for being here today. Tell our readers about you.
I was born in Charleston and have lived most of the other years in the Pee Dee area not far from the Grand Strand which is the setting for The Pursuit of Justice. I am a husband, father of 2 children, stepfather of 3 children and am owned by approximately 3 cats. I have been practicing law for 31 years focusing on bankruptcy and personal injury. My wife suggested that I write a novel. She says I was complaining about the quality of the novels I was reading then. My first book was written in response to a perceived lack of useful books on the subject of blending families. I co-wrote Blended Family Bliss with David Kahn about 10 years ago and published that through a print on demand house.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and family. All of the kids are gone (aged 22-29) but they are close. This week we’ve got all of them, a couple of son in laws, a boyfriend, and other family at the beach all week. And I enjoy helping people. As an attorney, people come to me with their problems and I am able to provide solutions for a lot of them.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
My first thought was Edgar Allen Poe. He’s always been my favorite writer and the Tell Tale Heart my favorite story. I wonder how his mind worked. If I had to choose someone alive, it would be either Chipper Jones or Hank Aaron. I am a huge Braves fan and would love to sit and listen to the stories they have. Wouldn’t a really good baseball book be fun to write?
What’s the story behind your latest book?
Ray Jackson is an attorney who is struggling to find himself. As soon as he finished law school, his sister went missing and his fruitless search for her threw his career off track. He worked with his mother(also a lawyer). When she became ill, Ray neglected the practice to take care of her and the book begins shortly after her death. Ray gets appointed to a murder case as part of agreement to resolve the ethical charges stemming from his neglect of his clients. Ray quickly discovers several holes in the prosecution’s case which has been investigated by the same police officer, now Captain, that failed to find Ray’s sister.
Ray also finds himself working with an ex girlfriend in a money laundering investigation. The money laundering investigation overlaps with the murder case taking Ray to a Casino Boat and ‘Gentlemen’s’ clubs where the murder victim used to work. It all becomes very personal for Ray when he discovers the truth about his sister as the murder case comes to trial.
Tell us your writing process.
My writing process is really just constant rewriting. I have a general story in mind and I begin. I go as far as I can and then go back and fix what’s not working any more in the story line. And then repeat. I’ve found that it takes numerous rewrites to get things close. I usually write for an hour or so in the morning (I get up early) and then have an hour commute to think about it and record notes in my phone that I apply the next day. It is the thinking time that really helps me get the story right.
What has and has not worked for you that you can share with aspiring & upcoming authors?
I don’t take criticism well so I had a hard time working with family and friends on early versions. I discovered that the problem wasn’t with my story but rather with my skills. I needed to learn how to write a novel. I did what I usually do when face with questions, I did what I have always done: I bought a book about writing. I got 4 or 5 books and a workbook or two. Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook was very helpful. After that I started working with The Editorial Department. I found them to offer affordable services that took my skills a new level.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not at all sure that I want to be a full time writer. I enjoy writing. I like the response we’re getting to The Pursuit of Justice. But I would miss my legal practice. When I write, I shut everything out. Right now (which is part of writing) the house is waking, plans are being made for the day and I’m going to stop and join them. During a regular week, I see clients everyday, talk to colleagues, go to court. And I’ve gotten some great anecdotes from colleagues and listening in court that become part of my writing.
Tell us about your main character:
Ray Jackson is a thirtyish attorney who is somewhat lost. He’s gotten his first murder case and is fighting to save his practice. He’s not a super hero. Ray doesn’t do anything that you or I couldn’t do. He’s regular guy facing issues similar to the ones we all face. He’s got bills to pay, girl friends and ex girlfriends, and he has to deal with co-workers.
The justice he pursues is in the form of fairness and it’s not just in the courtroom. Life really hasn’t been very fair to Ray in some respects and he begins to come to terms with that.
What are you working on next?
I’ve started another legal mystery that I want to explore how we view life and death. South Carolina still has the death penalty but is staunchly anti abortion. Those seem to be contradictory to me.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I am extraordinarily average.
Who are your favorite authors?
Poe, James Clavell, Michael Connely, Erik Larson, James Hornfischer, Thomas Hardy’s poetry (not so much his novels), Lee Child, James Baldacci.
What do you like to do with your free time?
Read, write, See friends and family. Cook on the grill. Go to the beach. I don’t have a boat right now and really need one. Watch the Braves.
Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
It took 6 years to write The Pursuit of Justice. I’ll publish the next when it’s ready, whenever that is.
Any final thoughts?
I have always been told (and you have too) to write about what you know. But really what we write about is people. We’ve also all heard that there are no new stories and I believe that’s true. But what I find interesting is how people (characters) respond to situations in these same old stories.
You wouldn’t read very far in my book, if you didn’t care about Ray Jackson and his predicament. What James Hornfischer and Erik Larson do so well in their nonfiction is show you the people. You see who they were and what they did. And I wonder, which is the point, what would I have done.
Posted on June 1, 2015, in Guest Authors, Interviews and tagged @ScribeMatthews, author interview, Ben Matthews, Blended Family Bliss, The Pursuit Of Justice, writing tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.