BookTrib Q&A: Author/Attorney Stone Grissom on Finding Inspiration in the Fight for Justice

in Fiction by
As an award-winning journalist, prime-time news anchor, legal analyst and civil rights attorney, it seems like Stone Grissom has done it all but write a book! That has changed with the publication of his crime thriller A Cry for Justice
The fast-paced, gripping story of murder, an outraged community, politics, corruption, and betrayal begins when four gang members kill an innocent teen and are subsequently acquitted.  Despite community outrage, the murder fades into memory until a young civil rights attorney, Gavin Brady, is accidentally given an internal memo between the prosecutor’s office and the police department he was never meant to see, revealing a dangerous, secret full of corruption. Unable to walk away, Gavin starts to dig into a past that some people would rather have left alone. Very quickly, his pursuit for justice turns into a fight for survival.

BookTrib: You’re an award-winning journalist, a civil rights attorney, legal analyst, and now a novelist – what made you want to write a book?

Stone Grissom: That’s a great question. The hardest part was the actual “act” of sitting down to begin writing. I’ve always loved stories. I think that’s part of what made me a success in law and journalism. I like playing with how people’s interactions affect themselves and others around them. Part of me just wanted to say, I wrote a book – but mostly it’s a passion. I hope it’s a passion that allows me to publish more books.

BookTrib: Your book has four gang members get away with murder, until a young civil rights attorney sees an internal memo that exposes a secret between the prosecutors, and the police. Where did you get, or what first inspired the idea for this story?

SG: The book is obviously a work of fiction, but was “inspired” by my first big case as a young attorney. It begins with the murder of a young woman, shot on a lonely road. The rest is fictionalized. I liked the idea of a single document that could hold the clues to begin unraveling the story. The idea really came from my own questions about our judicial system. As an attorney, I struggled with what “defines” justice; what happens when it can’t be achieved; or what if the “system” itself is a hindrance to achieving justice; and what role money plays in the criminal justice system. The story is told with the various characters playing out those questions I had. In some ways, A Cry for Justice is an allegory for the struggle to understand and define “justice.”

BookTrib: What was the most unexpected or surprising challenge you faced when you first started writing?

SG: Specifically involving this novel, I think it was the direction of the story. It took on a life of its own at some point of the writing process. I didn’t know what each chapter would bring until I was actually writing, and the ending was a complete surprise to me.

As far as writing in general, the greatest challenge was thinking of myself as a writer. I have always written professionally for a living (as an attorney and a journalist), but seeing myself as an “author” was challenging. It’s difficult, because we think of authors as those who have been fortunate enough to get something published. However, being a “writer” is a state of mind, and until you can look at yourself and see a writer, you won’t be one.

BookTrib: Are there any plans in the works for another book?

SG: Yes, I am in the editing stage of my next novel, Bonds of Friendship. It is a fast-paced crime thriller that explores the penalties involved when one crosses the ever so thin grey lines that separate betrayal, loyalty, and love. It weaves the investigation of the brutal murder of a young woman; a deadly secret between the mayor and the police captain; and a final showdown that will change the city forever. In the end, the only thing one can rely on is the concluding click of the interrogation room tape recorder sealing everyone’s final fate and marking the end of the investigation.

The first chapter of Bonds of Friendship is actually at the end of my current novel, A Cry for Justice.

BookTrib: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

 SG: It sounds cliché but, write. Good writers probably have notebooks and shelves filled with unpublished or unfinished stories. It’s the act of writing that hones one’s talent. 

 I’d also recommend writing about things you know about. Use your life experiences and places you’ve been or lived. It’s much easier to make those world come alive and you’ll enjoy writing about them more.

 Finally, don’t give up. If I had listened to all the advice about how tough the publishing industry is or how unlikely it is to get someone to read, let alone publish my book, then I would still be an “aspiring” writer instead of a published author. You will get rejected, and probably a lot. Don’t let that discourage you. If you love to write and feel like you have stories to tell, then write them down. Let those close to you read your stories and listen to their critiques. My wife was forced to read my current novel probably a dozen times, and she always had great advice. We all need an editor. Don’t talk about writing your novel, write it.

A Cry for Justice is available for purchase now. For more information on the author, please visit his website at stonegrissom.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image courtesy of amazon.com

Stone Grissom is an Edward R. Murrow winning journalist, the prime-time news anchor at News 12 on Long Island, New York, has more than a dozen Emmy nominations, and is the author of the novel A Cry for Justice. Additionally, Grissom boasts a distinguished background as a successful civil rights and criminal defense attorney. He has appeared as a legal analyst on a variety of local and national television stations, including Court TV, MSNBC, CNN, andFOX.  Grissom earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School. He was awarded the Louis A. Powell Medal for Excellence in Trial Advocacy by the American College of Trial Lawyers, was named a “Rising Star” three years in a row by Law and Politics, and has authored numerous articles for various legal publications.  He teaches News Media and News Writing at the State University of New York at Farmingdale.  Grissom lives with his wife and daughter on Long Island, and is currently working on his second thriller, Bonds of Friendship.

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Rachel Fogle De Souza was born and raised in Connecticut, and traveled extensively throughout Europe, parts of Asia, and the United States, before attending college at the University of California, Davis, where she received a B.A. in Comparative Literature, with a double minor in Women, Gender and Sexualities studies, and Middle Eastern/South Asian studies. When she's not writing, she's reading, boxing, or thinking about traveling.