I've just finished writing my debut novel, The Public Pretender. Whew! What a long and winding journey, but I like getting lost on the highways in the world of my imagination. A few times, I got off on the wrong exits--or, should I say different exits because it’s my imagination and nothing in there is wrong per se, just weird. I started writing it four years ago, and I’m glad I made it to the end.
Because I was mad about things I noticed in the juvenile justice system, I began writing a guide to educate more families in my community. As I wrote, a creative spring erupted in my mind, and I couldn’t force myself to stay within the rigid lines of legal exposition. It seemed fitting because I always found myself using analogies, examples and stories to explain to kids ranging in age from ten to eighteen what was happening to them in court.
The story is about a fiery criminal defense attorney, Maeven Dayne, who specializes in representing juvenile defendants. When it comes to her job, she’s driven and passionate. When it comes to her family, she’s devoted, but her job is demanding and distracting. She pleases her husband when she decides to quit her job to spend more time with the family. But, on Maeven’s last day at work in the courtroom, a juvenile probation officer she despises drags a weeping young girl before an irritated judge for an unscheduled hearing while Maeven is packing up her things to leave. She is walking out of the courtroom, fighting her urge to turn around when she hears the probation officer had the girl incarcerated for weeks without notifying her parents or arranging for representation. Maeven can’t resist the girl’s pitiful pleas for help and intervenes.
She discovers people are profiting from imprisoning innocent kids. A whistleblower ends up dead, but he’s left clues. When her oldest son is beaten, arrested and detained on false charges, her husband receives a message proposing an offer: Maeven must quit the girl’s case, or they lose their son. The problem? Can she sacrifice one for the other?
My book buddy and I had such different views about Maeven. We debated her methods, her motivations and how she treated friends and family. My friends had differing views too. We agreed that we were fascinated by her former client’s shady character, found her youngest son’s snarky humor terribly funny, and we really loved the way her husband loves. I cried over her oldest son’s scenes. Yes, I cry and laugh at passages in my own book; my husband thinks that’s weird. Because of the ongoing debate, I’m not done with Maeven. She’ll live on for one more book. She’ll have to wait until I’m finished writing a fantasy novel with my sons, but I’ve already have the plot for her worked out and can’t wait to get back to her.
Feel free to drop me a line. http://mdcliattbooks.blogspot.com.