THE CONFIDENCE MAN: Behind the Scenes
I’ve been wanting to write prequels to the Kate Lange Thriller Series for a long time. And the perfect opportunity arose when the Ladies of the Legal Thriller decided to band together and publish LEGAL BRIEFS, a crime fiction anthology.
So, over an intensive period in the summer, I wrote THE CONFIDENCE MAN, a ninety-nine page psychological thriller novella that takes place one week in January during Kate Lange’s second year of law school.
For those of you who have read DAMAGED, Book 1 of the Kate Lange Thriller Series, you will know that the book opens with Kate working as a brand new legal associate at Lyons McGrath Barrett, a high-powered boutique law firm. But she is on probation, because she is a big question mark for some of the firm’s partners, including Managing Partner Randall Barrett. One of the reasons she is a question mark is because she didn’t have the law school pedigree—she lacked stellar marks during law school due to the loss of her mother.
THE CONFIDENCE MAN tells that story. But it also flashes back to Kate’s younger years, and how her family coped with her father’s criminal fraud. Financial fraud can seem abstract, so to bring meaning to those parts of Kate’s life, I read the victim impact statements from the sentencing of several notorious fraudsters, including Bernie Madoff. Those victim impact statements—some eloquent, some stark, all full of anguish—brought home to me the loss of trust and security that fraud had on everyday people.
THE CONFIDENCE MAN also tells my story, to some degree. I rarely talk about it, but my mother was diagnosed with end stage colon cancer that had metastasized to her spine just before I began law school. In fact, I had planned to attend McGill Law School in Montreal, but upon receiving the diagnosis, I switched to Dalhousie Law School. While a first year law student, I spent most evenings in the hospital with my mother, who suffered terribly. It was a time in my life that changed me, and has informed my writing on many levels. She died in February of my first year. I knew what it was like to balance the demands of a professional school with pain, loss and grief. And when I wrote DAMAGED, I couldn’t help but give Kate Lange that life experience.
If you ever wondered about the story of Kate’s father, convicted fraudster Richard Lange, THE CONFIDENCE MAN answers a few questions. But to my delight, it raised new ones while I was writing the story. There is a plot twist that arose as I wrote the dialogue between Kate Lange and a journalist, who is delving into her father’s crimes. It is a plot twist that literally jumped out of my character’s mouth. And I love this plot twist (can you see me rubbing my hands together?)! It is one that I know will have legs as I write more Kate Lange stories.
What was wonderful about writing THE CONFIDENCE MAN is that it was voyage of both familiarity and discovery for me. It is a prequel, so I was able to draw in some elements that led to DAMAGED. But it also was exciting to explore Kate’s earlier life, and discover that there is a mystery there that has not been solved.
And what was really fun for me was that writing this story in particular—set during law school—allowed me to create several new characters in Kate’s life— Felix Vance, a brilliant law student who helps Kate, and her vegan, animal-rescuing roommate Morgan. I plan to include these new characters in future works.
So… that was how I spent my summer! 🙂 Here’s a photo of the final manuscript, just after I finished revisions.
I hope you enjoy reading THE CONFIDENCE MAN as much as I enjoyed writing it. It makes its debut in the LEGAL BRIEFS anthology, specially priced at 0.99 USD by the Ladies of the Legal Thriller. This is a limited release ebook of seven short crime works. This week the anthology enjoyed the #1 spot on the Mystery Anthology chart on Amazon.com.
You can find the links to the anthology on my website here.