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Shells Chats with Adam Mitzner author of A Conflict of Interest
How has being a published author changed your life and how does it compare to being a lawyer?
I sometimes joke with people that it's a very thin line between begging your friends to read your work and them asking for you to sign a copy of your book. Other than that, however, my life is pretty much the same. I'm still going to work every day as a lawyer and dealing with clients, and then at night I'm writing -- just like before A Conflict of Interest was published.
Can you tell us a bit about what A Conflict of Interest is about?
Alex Miller is a criminal defense attorney and, at thirty-five, the youngest partner in one of the most powerful law firms in New York City. He's a man at the top of his game with the life he's always dreamed of, complete with a devoted wife, who remains patient with his long hours and high-stakes cases, and the love of a beautiful young daughter.
At his father's funeral, Alex meets Michael Ohlig?a mysterious and nearly mythic figure in Miller family history?who presents Alex with a surprising request: to represent him in a high-profile criminal investigation . . . an alleged brokerage scam that has lost hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. Wealthy beyond words, Ohlig insists he's done nothing wrong, and Alex, who's experienced enough to know that clients always lie, uncharacteristically believes him.
As the facts come out, shocking secrets are revealed that threaten everything Alex believes in?about the law, his family, and himself. Yet Alex's desperate need for the truth propels him to unscrupulous depths, and to confront a past defined by deception and a future in jeopardy . . . with the realization that one false step could destroy everything Alex holds dear.
That was what the cover blurb said. In a sentence: A Conflict of Interest is about Alex Miller's search for who he really is at his core, amidst a backdrop of his representation of a family friend accused of perpetrating a multi-million dollar fraud.
What was the most challenging thing about writing A Conflict of Interest?
I struggled most with trying to make each character fully-formed and believable. I think all the characters in the book are trying their best to be good people, but they're all deeply flawed. The struggle was to not have any one of them cross too far over that divide so that they were clearly villian, victim or hero.
Can you tell us the significance of the 'Scary Lady' both for you and for Alex in A Conflict of Interest?
Like Alex Miller's father in the book, my father bought a Picasso poster for about $4 as a gift to my mother because he thought the picture looked like her. In fact, I think the picture may be of a boy, but it depicts someone with very short, dark hair, and my mother had a pixie cut back then. It hung outside my bedroom when I was growing up, and it did frighten me. When my parents retired to Florida, I asked them if I could have it. There's a picture of the poster on my website(http://adammitzner.com/photos.php), and it now hangs in my bedroom.
For Alex, the Scary Lady represents his parents marriage, or perhaps marriage generally. He knows it was bought out of love, but the portrait is a bit askew, and it's always frightened him a little.
Are there any projects coming in the future you can tell us about?
I'm finishing a new novel entitled Legally Dead. It's about an up-and-coming Hip Hop star named Legally Dead who is accused of murdering his pop star girlfriend. The protagonist of the story, like Alex Miller in A Conflict of Interest, is a lawyer who has many conflicts and secrets. It's not a sequel to A Conflict of Interest, but I think of it as a companion piece.