Lisa Scottoline's website

Lisa Scottoline is the author of legal thrillers, which are situated in Philadelphia. Some titles include: "Rough Justice", "Courting Trouble" and her latest, "Dead Ringer".


1) Did you always want to be a writer, or did you have other plans lined out first?

I was a lawyer before I began writing, and working in a big Philadelphia law firm. When a divorce coincided with the birth of my daughter, I wanted to find something that I could do so that I could stay home to raise my daughter. John Grisham and Scot Turow had just popularized the legal thriller genre, but it occurred to me that there were no legal thrillers from a woman's point of view. That is how I got started.

2) You studied English literature. Did you have any favorite authors?

I was actually lucky enough to study under the amazing Phillip Roth, and he has always been one of my favorites.

3) Later on, you also studied Law. Here in Belgium it's not that common to study first languages, and then law. How did you come by it?

Actually, in America, it is very popular to study English, including English literature undergraduate, and then go onto law school.

4) You wrote about 3 years on your first book. Did you find it easy/difficult to sell it?

I definitely got my fair share of rejections, but I was lucky enough to find the most wonderful editor in the world at HarperCollins.

5) Do you need to do a lot of research when you are working on a new book?

I do a lot of research because accuracy is important to me. I read a lot of books, do a lot of research online, and when necessary, visit people or places that I will be writing about.

6) Would you advise new authors to look for an agent, or don't you think it's necessary?

I strongly advise new authors to look for agents. I didn't know anything about publishing when I first started, but one thing I have learned is that getting published is hard enough. Without an agent, extremely difficult. The resource I found most useful was Writer's Market.

7) How do you handle criticism?

As you know, I welcome email, and do my very best to answer everyone. Sometimes I get a bit backed up when I am on tour or deadline. However, that opens you up to hearing from people who love your work and those who don't. I welcome the feedback, because it is a very solitary profession. What better way to learn how to improve, than to hear it directly from those who are reading you. Thankfully, there has not been too much criticism, because it is always hard to hear.

8) Are any of the events/cases in your books based on true events?

My books are completely fictional, although like most authors, I do draw from my own experiences both personally and professionally. One example is Mistaken Identity. In the book, Bennie Rosato discovers for the first time that she has a twin sister. A few years prior to reading that book I discovered that I have a half-sister when she knocked on my door one day. She looked so much like me that it was shocking. That inspired Mistaken Identity (except Bennie's sister is evil, and mine is wonderful,) and I have continued the story in my new book, Dead Ringer, due out in stores May 27th.

9) Do you ever intend to write a book that is not based in Philadelphia?

I do think for my next book I will have the characters extend outside the Philadelphia area for part of the book, but Philly will still be home for the rest of the book.

10) Who's your own favorite writer in your genre?

Although not strictly in my genre, I am a big fan of Janet Evanovich. I just read Michael Crichton's "Prey" which I thought was wonderful, and I love John Searles, a new gem of an author who wrote "Boy Still Missing."


Click here for previous interviews

© 2005 Nickie Fleming/Jansan