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Original Essays | August 18, 2014 0 comments
Today, we wonder anxiously if digital media is changing our brains. But if there's any time in history when our mental operations changed... Continue »
Steve MartiniDescribe your latest project.
Some people will do anything to influence the Supreme Court. They will sweet-talk, sway, and seduce. They will beg, borrow, and steal even lie. But will they kill?
Terry Scarborough is a legal scholar and high-court hanger-on who rubs people the wrong way. He is a provocateur who loves outrageous arguments and the kinds of controversies that make headlines.
When his blockbuster book on the constitutional origins of slavery ignites race riots and demands from black leaders to eliminate once and for all the language of slavery from the Constitution, Scarborough ups the ante. He claims to possess a mysterious piece of historic correspondence a letter written by one of the nation's founders and said to confirm a dark deal implicating icons of American history in a cynical plot to seal for all time the fate of African slaves in America. When Scarborough is found beaten to death in a hotel room, a young man with connections to hate groups is charged with first-degree murder. It is a case that defense attorney Paul Madriani would gladly pass up, except for one thing: the man charged with the murder is the son of one of his closest and oldest friends.
Madriani, the cagey litigator, suspects something deeper and more veiled behind the murder. Amid the glare of cameras and the jeers of protesters, Madriani digs deep, pursuing evidence, as well as a witness, within the cloistered confines of the United States Supreme Court. This search sears the soul of the nation and threatens to fracture the foundations of the federal government.
The strangest job I ever had was as special counsel to a program in California for victims of violent crimes. It was strange because I was assigned to sort out government regulations, one of which, under certain interpretations, might have authorized government checks to be paid to a drug dealer when a drug deal went bad and the dealer got himself shot as part of the enterprise. Only government could find itself caught up in that one.
The most interesting job I ever had was as a journalist in Los Angeles covering the courts, local government, and politics. It was my first job out of college. I would recommend journalism to anyone, particularly when you are young, naive, or idealistic (take your pick). Getting up close and personal to politics and politicians is without question the best and fastest cure for idealism. A few stories covering local city and county politics will drive a wooden stake right through the heart of the most ardent idealist. I learned more about the world and how it works in my first 90 days as a journalist than I ever could have in four years at any leading university in the world. Take my word for it: if you want to learn about human nature, drop out of college and become a reporter.
Writers are better liars than other people: true or false?
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
And one of the closing passages of The Great Gatsby:
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
I have. I once traveled to Wolf House, the burned-out ruins of the home never lived in but built by Jack London at what is now Jack London Historic State Park in the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma County. The trip was many years ago, long before I wrote my first book. For some reason the memories of that visit have always had some kind of an effect on me, as if to assure me that I can write and to compel me to do so.
Why do you write?
Who are your favorite characters in history? Have any of them influenced your writing?
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Great Books on Lincoln and His Life:
With Malice toward None by Stephen B. Oates
Lincoln's Virtues by William Lee Miller
Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years by Carl Sandburg
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald
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