Interview with David Marlett, Author of Fortunate Son
David Marlett is an attorney, artist, and self-trained historian who grew up in a storytelling Texas family. He attended Texas Tech University where he earned multiple degrees in finance, economics and accounting. Subsequently, he earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. David has created and written stories and screenplays since childhood, and is particularly interested in richly textured history and the drama behind major courtroom battles, such as in his first novel, FORTUNATE SON. His second novel, AMERICAN RED, another historical courtroom drama, is due to be published in late 2014. He is a serial entrepreneur focused primarily on the arts. (He once owned eight bookstores across the United States.) David currently speaks and lectures at conferences and universities on transmedia, storytelling, entrepreneurship in the arts, and crowdfunding. He has been a featured contributor to MovieMaker magazine, Digital Book World, and many other publications. He has developed and sold a number of film scripts and has directed/ acted in many regional theatrical performances. David is also a photo artist whose work has appeared in several galleries across the United States, and can be also seen at www.MarlettPhotoArt.com. He lives outside Dallas, Texas, and has four children. Visit David online at http://dmarlett.com.
Where did you grow up? Lubbock, Texas
When did you begin writing? I've been writing stories since I first started writing as a child. Some of my first were when I was 5 or 6. I wrote my own adventures for Stewart Little, after having falling in love with the original book. I filled a journal with further adventures for the mouse.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments? Day, night, stolen moments. I carry a small journal with me wherever I am and record notes at all times.
Meet James Annesley, son of 18th Century Ireland. Though you may have never heard his name before, his story has already touched you in profound ways. Now, for the first time, novelist David Marlett brings that incredible story to life. Stretching from the dirty streets of Ireland to the endless possibilities of Colonial America, from drama on the high seas with the Royal Navy to a life-and-death race across England and up the Scottish Highlands, from the prospect of a hangman’s noose to a fate decided in the halls of justice, FORTUNATE SON is a powerful, relentless epic. Here nobility, duels, love, courage, revenge, honor, and treachery among family, friends and ancient enemies abound. And at its center is the most momentous trial in Irish history – the trial of Annesley v. Anglesea from which our modern “attorney/client privilege” was forged, and our concept of a “jury of one's peers” was put to the test. Carefully researched, vividly evoked, and lovingly brought to the page, FORTUNATE SON is an unforgettable work of fiction based on fact, one that will resonate deep within you long after you finish it.
What inspired you to write it?
My incredible journey toward FORTUNATE SON began while I was in my first year of law school at the University of Texas. A portion (later proving to be a very small portion) of the plot came to my attention in a textbook on legal ethics. Near the beginning of that book, the author illustrated a point by referring to an obscure 1743 trial transcript. That excerpt featured one attorney cross-examinning another attorney, questioning the examinee's credentials and moral guidelines. Like an archeologist inspired upon finding a chip of dinosaur vertebrae, I decided to dig deeper. That evening I found the entire trial transcript in the UT Law Library (which happens to be one of the largest law libraries in the world). I was so transfixed that I was locked in the stacks overnight, reading. The next morning I was certain that someday I would tell this story. What I didn't know then, but would learn over the subsequent years of research and immersive trips to Ireland, Scotland and England, was that the transcript of the Annesley v. Anglesea trial contained but a portion of the extraordinary story of James Annesley -- a story very well known in the mid-1700's. I feel exceptionally privileged to bring James's story to the modern world in the form of FORTUNATE SON.
Who is your favorite character from the book? Daniel Mackercher. He is such a powerful character. Imagining how he might behave was a delight. Of course the main character was enjoyable too, but Mackercher had a particular pleasure to his construction.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere? Stick with it. Keep writing. Don't waste time commiserating with other writers, just keep your butt in front of your laptop and your fingers moving.
In his accomplished debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction, built around the transcripts of one of the most momentous legal trials in history. Now he returns with a dramatic new story and an equally dramatic trial. In 1907, deadly, one-eyed union boss "Big Bill" Haywood was accused of ordering the successful assassination-by-bombing of the governor of Idaho – the first such assassination in American history. The trial, with Haywood represented by a young Clarence Darrow, was front-page news from coast to coast and across the globe. As it played out, it would present in vivid detail America's doomed thrust toward radical socialism, a "red" revolution that was gaining traction in Russia and other parts of the world. American Red brings the story of the events leading up to this trial – and the trial itself – to dramatic life. It is a sweeping tale of murder, adultery, corruption, mountain Mafia, the Pinkertons, domestic terrorism, government-sanctioned kidnapping, the last gunslingers, mining unions, and perhaps the greatest train race ever. It is both breathless entertainment and an unforgettable portrait of a younger America at the precipice of great change.