Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Interview with Larry D. Thompson, Author of Dark Money

Larry D. Thompson was first a trial lawyer. He tried more than 300 cases throughout Texas, winning in excess of 95% of them. When his youngest son graduated from college, he decided to write his first novel. Since his mother was an English teacher and his brother, Thomas Thompson, had been a best-selling author, it seemed the natural thing to do.

Larry writes about what he knows best…lawyers, courtrooms and trials. The legal thriller is his genre. DARK MONEY is his fifth story and the second in the Jack Bryant series.
Larry and his wife, Vicki, call Houston home and spend their summers on a mountain top in Vail, Colorado. He has two daughters, two sons and four grandchildren.

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I spent more than forty years as a Texas trial lawyer. I grew up In Fort Worth, the son of school teachers. Upon graduation from The University of Texas, I moved to Houston where my wife and I raised three children, all of whom developed into responsible and independent adults. After trying more than three hundred cases, I decided to write what I knew best, stories about lawyers, judges, courtrooms and trials. When not in Houston, writing and still working part-time with my law firm, my wife and I spend summers in Vail where my youngest son lives. We get out of the Texas heat and enjoy the beauty and weather in the mountains where we hike, I play golf with my son and I work on novels.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I grew up in a different era when it was safe for kids to wander the streets of Fort Worth. At the age of six, my mother allowed me to walk a block to the bus stop, clad in shorts and a T-shirt, but no shoes, take the bus downtown and walk to the library. Every summer I would check out five books, read them in a week and go back to the library the next week to check the old ones back in and get five new (at least to me) ones. That’s where I developed my love of books and reading.

When did you begin writing?

About ten years ago my youngest son had graduated from SMU. With all of the kids out of the nest, I decided to try writing a novel. My last writing class had been freshman English at The University of Texas, but I figured that I had read thousands of books over the years and I could surely write one. So, I did.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I usually write during the mornings for a few hours. Up until now, unless I was in trial, I wrote for two or three hours and then went to the office. On weekends I would expand that writing time to five or so hours. I firmly believe that it is hard to be creative for longer than that time. Others disagree and describe writing for eight or ten hours. That’s not for me. Besides, if I stick to my schedule, I can turn out the first draft of a legal thriller in about five months. Then, comes the hard part: editing and re-editing ten or fifteen times until I say it’s finished.

What is this book about?

It’s a legal thriller, a mystery and an expose’ of the corruption of big money secretly contributed to political campaigns in this country. In Dark Money murders occur at a political fundraiser in Fort Worth and Jack is appointed special prosecutor, charged with finding the killers. It leads him on a traill to an anti-government militia compound in West Texas, to New Orleans and New York until he finally gathers enough evidence to reveal the killer in a suspense-filled trial that climaxes the story.

What inspired you to write it?

As a lawyer, I have always followed the important decisions from our United States Supreme Court. I was dismayed when the court handed down the Citizens United opinion and followed it with Speech Now and McCutcheon. In the name of First Amendment free speech they opened the flood gates to corporations, billionaires and labor unions, telling them they could secretly fund any campaign they chose and no one would learn their names or how much they contributed. The Supreme Court has done this country a terrible disservice. I wanted to tell a good story and also educate the reader to this problem.

Who is your biggest supporter?

That’s easy. My wife and children.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I have never worked with a critique group. Instead, when I have written and re-written a story, I send it out to about twenty family members and friends and, hopefully, some strangers who enjoy a good book. I ask for and usually receive very candid and sometimes blunt comments and criticisms.

Who is your favorite author?

That would be my brother, Tommy Thompson, who was the best of his generation. Currently, I look forward to reading Michael Connelly’s stories.

Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?

I have a very good agent, Ken Atchity. He lives and works out of Los Angeles.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing?

The short answer is “no.” This is my fifth novel. I now have an agent and a publishing and promotion plan. However, the road to getting So Help Me God, my first novel, published was so rocky that I even abandoned any hope of getting it done. Then my wife (who is my publicist) and I re-grouped and self-published. We promoted it heavily and after far too long a time, my agent, Ken Atchity, agreed to represent me. My first three books were with New York houses (Tor/Forge and St. Martin’s). Then I realized that they paid only a modest advance, did no promotion and took most of the profits. My agent had started his own imprint, Story Merchant Books, in conjunction with Amazon. I moved to Story Merchant and believe I have found a home.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

It’s available on Kindle and can be ordered from any book store.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The literary book tours where there are stops like this one are the absolute best bang for the buck (and I thank you).

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Don’t ever give up. A few writers get lucky and hit it big with their first novel. Still, I know far more who write five, or six or eight books and finally “get discovered.”

What is up next for you?

This is interesting and somewhat different from what I usually write. My brother was a best-selling writer of true crime in the eighties. He died way too young. His best book was Blood and Money, the true story of murders in the ultra-expensive River Oaks section of Houston. Because it was true, the characters were real. He and Doubleday were sued for libel three times. I successfully defended all three cases. The trials were fascinating. Now, after 30 years Blood and Money is to be made into a television series (things move slowly in Hollywood).In conjunction with the series, I am going to write Blood and Money, The Libel Trials. It will read like fiction but will be completely true.

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