Four years ago this week I posted a blog titled: If I write a novel about a law firm…I need your ideas. As you will see, on that day I was starting a novel writing class. In January of 2014, I began writing a novel.
Four years and nine drafts later, I have finally published it. The title is The Billionaire’s Lawyer. It is available here in both softcover and e-book versions. You can also find it on Amazon. I understand the Kindle version will be available on Amazon in a few weeks.
Why did it take four years to write and why did it take 10 versions until I was willing to publish it? There are two reasons. First, I was never satisfied with my work. I always thought, and still believe, I could make it better. Second, I’ve been able to incorporate events that have taken place over the last four years. Several times, I have thought,
What’s happening in real life is far stranger than anything I could possibly make up.
When I began writing, I hadn’t considered that the government might have hacked into a news reporter’s computer, corporations and political groups might use social media in ways no one ever thought of to sway opinion, and I had never heard of the term “fake news.”
My original protagonist was the great-granddaughter of a Galveston Mafia boss. Why did that character interest me? I didn’t know the Galveston history of the Free Galveston era, and was fascinated when I studyied it. You can check it out here. (My second novel will likely be about this character.)
Gabriela Sanchez is the protagonist of The Billionaire’s Lawyer. She grew up in the Rio Grande Valley and moved to Dallas to prove to herself, and perhaps her father, that she could make it on the big stage. Why did I want the protagonist to be a Hispanic woman from the Rio Grande Valley?
There are many reasons: First, I wanted to write about someone different than me. I decided the protagonist should be a woman because, having coached and mentored hundreds of young women lawyers, I know women face different challenges while striving to be successful.
Why did I want my character to be a Hispanic woman? While doing research I discovered that Hispanic women make up around 7% of the US population, but less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the partners in law firms. I also recognized in my research that because of movies and television shows, Hispanic women have been unfairly stereotyped. I’m sure you know this, but if you are interested here is a Latina Magazine article: 10 Latino Stereotypes We’ve Heard All Our Lives That Are Completely False.
Why did I decide my character had grown up in the Rio Grande Valley? There were many reasons. Our daughter taught school there. Our son-in-law grew up there. Sadly, the Rio Grande Valley is one of the poorest and most corrupt regions in the country. See: Rio Grande Valley Tops List of “America’s Poorest Cities” and Corruption On The Border: Dismantling Misconduct In The Rio Grande Valley.
More important than all of those reasons, I mentored a young lawyer who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. I learned a great deal from her. She told me her mom was a teacher and her dad was a principal. She went to both college and law school on scholarships. At Notre Dame Law School she was the only Hispanic student and other students believed she was there only because of “affirmative action.” She later proved them wrong when she outperformed most of them.
She once told me that many times she wondered if she measured up and sometimes believed someone would figure out she was not as smart or not as capable a lawyer as them. Those feelings motivated her to work harder and probably contributed to her success.
I’m not sure if the lawyer I mentored will see this, but I have to thank her for sharing ideas that became the inspiration for my protagonist.
So, what’s the story about?
Gabriela Sanchez is a young lawyer who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley watching her father in court. After clerking for a federal judge and working with her father, Gabriela moves to Dallas to prove she can make it in the big city. At first, much to her dismay, Gabriela becomes known for being named one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas by D Magazine (There was an annual list. Check out 2015 here.). and for an award from Catholic Charities for her work helping refugee and immigrant children.
Then, a trial consulting firm (think of Dr. Jason Bull TV character) recommends Gabriela to defend the richest man in Texas in the most highly publicized white collar criminal case since Enron. At the beginning, Gabriela believes the poor have little chance to defend themselves, but during her defense of Sparks Duval, she discovers how tough it is for a rich man to get a fair trial when the DOJ is hellbent to convict the defendant at any cost including destroying his lawyer.
I enjoyed writing the book and incorporating what was happening in real life. I strongly considered not publishing it because I was writing it for my own education. I’m still not sure it is ready for prime-time, but if I can borrow words from a Seth Godin blog titled: Art is what we call...
What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.
Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.