I’m delighted to be welcoming Michael Cordell today who is chatting to us about his legal thriller, Contempt.
Contempt by Michael Cordell is available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
After spending five years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit, lawyer Thane Banning agrees to take on a case defending a former inmate against the same DA who put Thane behind bars.
Thane is besieged by death threats from the alleged victim’s father and a tidal wave of public outrage following his release, not to mention the corrupt DA who has a grudge to settle. But he doesn’t have much time to think about his personal problems because the case is turning into a nasty fight.
Luckily, prison taught Thane a thing or two about survival in a world full of criminals. The last time he played by the rules in court, he landed on death row. This time he’ll have to break more than a few rules to come out of this battle unscathed.
With help from an ex-inmate and an ambitious law student, Thane will do everything in his power to make sure another innocent man isn’t locked up. But will he be able to uncover the truth in time and convince the jury before the gavel drops for the last time?
Hi Michael, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Contempt in 20 words or less.
After spending five years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit, lawyer Thane Banning tries to reclaim his life.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
I was interested in seeing how a good person might change after they’d been the victim of a travesty of justice, and whether or not they could reclaim the happiness that was taken from them.
Please tell us about the characters in your book.
Thane Banning is a real estate lawyer who had a great career, a wonderful marriage and a terrific life. He was put on death row for a murder he didn’t commit. He freed himself on a technicality, so the public still feels Thane got away with murder. Thane takes on the case of someone he knew in prison who has been charged with murder: a case being prosecuted by the same prosecutor who put Thane away five years earlier.
Hannah is Thane’s wife. She had moved on with her life after Thane said he would likely never be released. They get back together after he’s freed, but she wants him to let go of the past and not go up against the District Attorney again.
Bradford Stone is the District Attorney who put Thane on death row. His reputation has taken a hit with the release of Thane from death row, so he is determined to crush Thane as they once again square off in court.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most Michael?
I most liked the scene when Thane (the protagonist) and his wife are first reunited after he has spent five years on death row. Their reunion was awkward and uncertain, as they weren’t sure how to just pick up where they left off, especially since Thane’s release was so unexpected.
… and the hardest?
The same scene that I most enjoyed writing was also the hardest to write. It was a challenge trying to figure out how two people who had been love could just restart their relationship after all they had gone through. Thane knew his experience had changed him: he was afraid he was no longer the man his wife fell in love with, and that scared him. Hannah was scared, too, but they eventually find a way to reconnect.
Does your book tackle a social barrier?
I tried showing how incarceration could change any man, given the brutality that is allowed to take place there, and how that change could be even harder for someone who was innocent.
Panster or plotter?
Definitely a plotter. I know most everything that is going to happen in my story and where it happens before I start writing. I can surprise myself with significant story twists I wasn’t expecting, but that usually comes in the planning stage.
Do you think movie adaptations do books justice Michael? Do you have a favourite?
Prior to writing novels I was a screenwriter who had sold three scripts to Hollywood, so I have a good appreciation of the difference between the two types of writing. I think movie adaptations can do books justice when they truly capture the spirit of the book, but it’s not always fair to compare the two mediums given the limitations of a screenplay that has a fraction of the word count of novels. The movie “Let The Right One In” did a good job adapting the novel.
Are there any tips you could share with new writers?
I had to work hard to not look at my first draft with a critical eye. It’s supposed to be bad: it’s the first draft. I’m now at the point where the critical eye doesn’t get opened until the second draft, which has helped me immensely.
Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?
I actually get a lot of benefit from watching interviews with novelists on YouTube or other websites. Creative writing books and courses are great, but there’s something about listening to writers talk about their experiences and their processes and their struggles that really resonates with me.
Finally, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
The joy I get when I’m really enjoying writing my story. I know that when I’m having fun writing it, the final product will be much better.
Thank you for being my guest. Wishing you success with all your creative projects.
Michael Cordell has been a writer for many years. After having had a play produced by several theatre companies in the Midwest, Cordell turned his attention to screenwriting. He sold three screenplays to Hollywood, one of which was produced starring Harvey Keitel and Joey Lauren Adams. Cordell has since shifted to writing novels. His first novel, “Contempt” was published by TCK Publishing in July of this year. Website: https://www.michaeljcordell.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaeljcordell