Q: Have any of your books been made into movies or are any likely to be in the future?A:
THE JUDGE aired as a two-part miniseries on NBC in May 2001. The cast of characters included Chris Noth as Paul Madriani and Edward Olmos as Judge Acosta. In addition, UNDUE INFLUENCE aired as a television mini-series in 1996, starring Brian Dennehy and Patricia Richardson. There are no current plans for other movies.
Q: Is there any relationship between the two similar names (and, possibly, their characters): Steven Paul Martini and Paul Madriani?A:
“I get that question quite a bit. The names do, of course, have in common their legal profession and their Italian heritage. In addition, the name “Paul” is my middle name. But that’s about where the similarities end. There are very few other similarities between my principal character and myself, though some of his life experiences seem to track my own, particularly a few of his more recent travels. In terms of temperament and demeanor, I probably bear more similarity to Harry Hinds, Paul’s law partner.”
Q: How did you come up with the Paul Madriani character?A:
“I don’t know. It’s a mystery. I found that to be the best line from “Shakespeare in Love” and find that it fits many of life’s situations. In throwing around names one day as I was in the early stages of outlining the plot for “Compelling Evidence”, the first of the Madriani books, the name came to me and I thought it sounded musical. It stuck and the rest is history.”
Q: Are your books published in other languages?A:
Foreign rights have been sold to more than twenty countries.
Q: Can you list all the books in order from first to last?A:
For a printable list, click here.
- Simeon Chamber (1988)
- Compelling Evidence (1992)
- Prime Witness (1993)
- Undue Influence (1994)
- The Judge (1995)
- The List (1997)
- Critical Mass (1998)
- The Attorney (2000)
- The Jury (2001)
- The Arraignment (2003)
- Double Tap (2005)
- Shadow of Power (2008)
- Guardian of Lies (2009)
- The Rule of Nine (2010)
- Trader of Secrets (2011)
- The Enemy Inside (2015)
(Titles highlighted in bold feature Paul Madriani)
Q: Do I need to read the books in order?A:
The books are all stand-alone novels. However, many people do prefer to read the Paul Madriani books in chronological order. The only three that are part of a set, a trilogy, are The Guardian of Lies, The Rule of Nine and Trader of Secrets. I would recommend reading those three in order. Of course, there are three books that are outside the Madriani series: The Simeon Chamber, The List and Critical Mass.
Q: Have you written anything other than your novels that I can read?A:
There are definitely a number of other articles out there, including two short stories featuring Paul Madriani:
1. Surfing the Panther, part of FaceOff (2014), the anthology compiled of 11 stories, each written by a two-author team.
2. The Second Man (2015), a stand-alone novella created for ebook distribution.
Q: Will you read my manuscript and give me your opinion?A:
Unfortunately, no. For legal reasons as well as time reasons, I am unable to do so.
Q: Where did the plot idea for your first book, Simeon Chamber, come from?A:
“From an elderly aunt, now deceased… Part of the story is that there was a ghost blimp that sailed around San Francisco… and the crew was lost. My parents and my aunt witnessed the ghost blimp rise over the city and told me about it when I was a child.”
Q: What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?A:
“For me, it is a mix of good story tellers and great writers. Occasionally, very rarely, you find both in the same writer. In the field of fiction the book I most admire is THE GREAT GATSBY by Fitzgerald.”
Q: What is the worst / best thing about being a writer?A:
“The worst thing about being a writer is that you are never finished. The best thing for me is that I am most content, it seems, when I am writing. So figure that out.”
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a writer?A:
“As to advice to others wishing to become writers, the answer is simple; write. You have to be persistent in your self-criticism, develop an ear for dialogue and narrative and be willing to toss material that doesn’t work and start again. The real answer is to rewrite until you have honed your work to a fine edge. Do not try to sell material until in your honest opinion it looks and sounds as good as what is at the upper end of the marketplace already on sale in bookstores. Read others who are published, particularly for their strengths. If you’re trying to craft hard-edged on the sidewalk crime, read Elmore Leonard for his dialogue. Also read well-crafted screenplays, “Chinatown” and anything by Quinton Tarantino. What you will gain if you are good are glimmers of technique. It will also help perfect an ear for what is good and what is not. In the end it is much better both for your ego and for your prospects of being published, if you yourself reject the imperfections of that manuscript and rework them than to have the script rejected by an editor.”
Q: Any advice on getting an agent? Or how to get manuscripts in front of publishers?A:
The best suggestion is to begin your search for an agent in Literary Marketplace, a large reference work available in most libraries. There you will find a listing of every major agent and agency listed. From there you will have to start submitting manuscripts to the agents at their offices. In addition, LMP now has a website, www.literarymarketplace.com, which you may want to check out.
Q: What happened with Paul Madriani’s wife, Nikki? When and why did she die?A:
“Nikki’s death is not written into any of the books. However, in Undue Influence, the reader learns for the first time about her illness and death, which had occurred the year before.
Why did Nikki die? After a couple of books, it became clear to me as well as my publisher that the relationship between Paul and Nikki was headed nowhere. She didn’t have a major part to play in the stories as they took place almost entirely in court, and she curbed the ability to bring romance into the stories that might work in the court or investigative setting. The fact is that when I wrote the first Madriani book, “Compelling Evidence”, I never really intended for it to be a continuing series. When the publisher offered more contracts for a series, I was confronted with a relationship in the stories that was not destined to work over the long haul.”
Q: Why did you decide to write a book, The List, with a female lead?A:
“I thought it was fair turnabout. If Abby was going to write a book in a male voice, the least I could do was reciprocate. But it wasn’t easy.”
Q: I just finished reading “Critical Mass” & enjoyed it immensely. Will there be a sequel? The ending seemed to have left that option open.A:
While there has not been a sequel to Critical Mass, a couple of the characters from the book returned and met up with Paul Madriani in later books, beginning with The Rule of Nine.
Q: In The Attorney, how did the fish scales/blood get on Suade’s clothing and how did the cigar butt end up at the crime scene?A:
“The answer is found in Chapter Six, where you will recall that Susan, Paul, Harry, Jonah and Susan’s investigator meet at Paul’s office. This is immediately after Paul has had his confrontational meeting with Zolanda Suade at her office. Paul has just picked Jonah up at the docks and Jonah is covered in fish blood from his catch of the marlin that he leaves hanging on the docks. In Chapter Six he has not had time to change, but is in Paul’s office in his fishing togs. He is also smoking a cigar and offers them all around, including one to Susan. She takes it. At the end of this meeting, who does Jonah leave with? He leaves with Susan in her county car to go to Susan’s office in order to prepare documents to compel Suade to disclose the location of the child. The evidentiary doctrine involved here is called “Transference”. Trace evidence such as fish scales, and even traces of dried or drying blood would easily be transferred to the upholstery of Susan’s car as Jonah sat in the passenger seat.
Later that evening when the killing occurred, you will recall that the evidence indicated that Suade had similarly sat in the passenger seat of the killer’s car — Susan’s car, that she was shot in the vehicle and her body dumped in the parking lot behind her office. The ashtray containing cigar ash that Jonah had smoked earlier in the day was similarly dumped on the body — why? Because Suade smoked cigarettes and Susan did not want any evidence in her car linking herself to the victim. She didn’t realize that she was inadvertently incriminating Jonah by dumping the ash.
My editor and I actually debated whether we should include an explanation of the above in the final chapter of the book, but felt it wasn’t necessary as it smacked too much of a Hercule Poirot mystery. Perhaps we were wrong.”
Q: Can you explain the title “The Jury”, as it doesn’t seem to fit with the story?A:
The publisher’s marketing department at the time thought The Jury was a good title for the next book in the series. However, as the writing progressed, the concept of the book changed, which often happens. By that time, it was too late to change the title.
Q: In Double Tap, how did your military experience figure into the making of the character, Emiliano Ruiz, a retired Army sergeant?A:
“My experiences in the military were brief, as a medic in the Army Reserves, so I have no extensive background here. I did do considerable research on the subject reading voluminous materials on Delta Force, it’s early beginnings and history. As a writer, I am addicted to research and often find myself spending too much time reading materials that interest me but may be more than I require for the project at hand and then I find myself faced with the task of wading through entire binders of notes and background materials. There was, however, an aspect of the character Ruiz that was real and based on personal experience. These were the battlefield scars of my uncle in North Korea and the lifelong trauma that he suffered afterward.”
Q: Shadow of Power is categorized as “legal fiction”. How much of it is true? Which parts?A:
“The information on the Constitution’s language is factual and not fiction. To go much beyond this would be to give away basic plot points of the story. Suffice it to say that much of the historical analysis and backdrop for the story is factual and true. So is the political setup with a Supreme Court that is badly divided and resting for its decisional basis in virtually every controversial case on a single swing vote – the one high court justice – the man in the middle. Beyond this, readers will have to decipher fact from fiction, which may not be easy.”
Q: Compelling Evidence begins with a graphic description of an execution in the gas chamber, but the execution itself has nothing to do with the plot. Why did you begin the book this way?A:
“Actually, I’ve been criticized in some reviews for that. There were two reasons. In fiction, you have to have a “hook” to pull the reader in, and I felt that there was some nexus with the heart of the story, which is a death penalty trial. The stakes had to be made as clear as possible to the reader as to what was happening here.
I will admit – in the two novels I’ve written – I’ve gone back and done either the prologue or the first chapter fairly late in the book. This is not something that I wrote in the early drafts of the manuscript, but something that I inserted later as I got toward the end of the book actually. And I felt I needed some kind of a charge to get the book going, rather than just a bland opening, and I think it worked for that purpose. I do feel that it added something to the stakes of what the story was about, what risks were involved here. That’s basically why I did it.”
Q: Have any of your books been made into movies or are any likely to be in the future?A:
“THE JUDGE aired as a two part miniseries on NBC in May 2001. Cast of characters included Chris Noth as Paul Madriani and Edward Olmos as Judge Acosta. In addition, UNDUE INFLUENCE aired as a television mini-series in 1996, starring Brian Dennehy and Patricia Richardson. Currently, there are no other plans for movies.”