Jerry Banks, retired trial lawyer, joins the spotlight. After 40 years of civil law, Jerry has settled into a writing rhythm. His legal mysteries are no stranger than any of his previous cases, although the names may be changed to protect the innocent! Jerry’s notoriety stretches from a premiere at BookExpo America to featured writer in Publisher’s Weekly. He spends a few minutes here sharing about his Barry O’Shea series, writing habits, and publishing experiences.
Q) As a lawyer turned author, do you find you pen more interesting characters or is it a close call to the ones you met in your legal career, or perhaps not even close?
A) I actually create new characters, although Barry O’Shea is patterned after me and some of his staff is patterned somewhat after some of my staff, but some are not completely and some are patterned after two or more of my staff. The character Arch Sinclair is of my creation, although I did represent a candidate for sheriff early in my career who went through a contest of a recount in Western Oregon.
In Secret Agenda, Shadrung, Nahir, and some of the other Ngawangeesh characters were patterned after some of the cult characters in the Rashneesh invasion into Oregon who I opposed in court in a somewhat different situation. All the characters in my first book, The Lukarilla Affair, were created.
Q) Keeping with the transition theme, how did you approach novel writing? Do you have a writing schedule? Ritual? Do deadlines play into your routine? Describe your typical day.
A) Originally, I approached novel writing the wrong way. It took a lot of coaching, critiquing and editing to guide me to mystery writing as opposed to legal writing. I’m still learning. I’m not as structured as you might think. I take my themes for my stories from some of my experiences in court over my 40+ years of trial practice, but I don’t follow my cases, just their environment. Then I try to develop how I want the story to end. From there I just start writing and see what develops. I rewrite and rewrite until I’m satisfied, and then the editor takes charge. I don’t have deadlines. Some days I write most of the day, others I don’t write at all. As you can tell I’m retired, so my time is my own, and I write for pleasure.
Q) In another interview, you shared that you have worked with different publishers on this same series. What has been your experience with the publishing process—beginning with the search for a publisher, working with an editor, contractual agreements, and etc.?
A) Yes I’ve worked with two publishers. For my first book I just fell into the publisher. I was trying to get an agent and as expected got lots of turn downs. One lady in Texas liked my story but she said it needed a good editor. She suggested one she knew in Dallas, and told me to contact her again if the editor took me on. There are many twists to this story, but eventually her husband, who had a new publishing business, took me on. The book got published, but I got very little help from the publisher marketing it, and when I was never paid per my contract with him, I settled by his giving me back my right to the book and two others I contracted to write for him. That ended the marketing of that book. I had three others written by then so I set about getting an agent again, and I think because I had already published, I got one right away, and she got me SterlingHouse Publishers, who have published my Secret Agenda and Second District, and been very helpful to me in marketing my books.
Thanks Jerry and we’ll keep an eye out for the next addition in your series.