A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner

by Dana Granger

Adam Mitzner may be brand new to the “legal thriller” scene, but he’s already getting rave reviews for his debut novel, “A Conflict Of Interest”.  Publishers Weekly said “This gifted writer should have a long and successful career ahead of him,” and Perri O’Shaughnessy described “A Conflict Of Interest” as “Psychological And Legal Suspense At Its Finest.”

Recently, I was able to chat with Mitzner, a successful Manhattan attorney, about the surprising inspiration for his first novel, how he crams writing time into his busy day, and what’s next on the horizon for this gifted new author.

You’re the head of litigation at a Manhattan law firm – how do you fit writing into your schedule?

I write nearly every waking moment when I’m not at the office. I’m a fast writer, and a slow editor, and so I can sometimes write a chapter in an hour or two, and then I spend the better part of the week editing. I write in the morning before work, and edit from the time I get home until bed.

What inspired the story behind “A Conflict Of Interest?”

Batman. Seriously. I’ve always been intrigued with superheroes and their “secret identities,” which has led me to wonder why they’d want to have two lives. Why not be Superman or Batman all the time? From there, it wasn’t a big leap to question whether we all have two, or more, lives because we show different parts of ourselves to our work colleagues, our children, our spouse, and our friends. And that led to the question:  which one is the real you?

What makes your hero, Alex Miller, a character worth getting to know? What gives him that “hero” quality?

Alex Miller faces a dilemma that is universal:  he’s living the life he’s always dreamed about – successful career, beautiful wife, a daughter he adores – and yet he’s unhappy, questioning whether he’s truly the man he wants to be. What makes Alex heroic is that he faces this issue and tries to live up to an ideal he’s set for himself.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Scott Turow, Richard Russo, Ethan Canin, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

You’re a self-taught writer. What have you done over the years to learn and improve your craft?

For me, writing is about editing. In that regard, I’ve had great teachers in the lawyers I’ve worked with in my career. Unlike in school where you finish a paper and it’s done, in legal practice when you’re done, it’s edited, sometimes by five or six people. Watching what I considered to be my finished product being improved was the best education about writing that I could imagine.

Do you plan to stick to the legal genre in future novels?

My next book is also in the legal genre, but I can certainly envision a book that has nothing to do with the law. I like to think that the law is only a setting, and my writing is more about the inner struggles the characters face.

What type of research did you do for A Conflict Of Interest?

Most of my research came from twenty years of practicing law. Many of the legal issues that arise in the book were issues that I’ve encountered before in practice. When there were particularly complicated legal issues, I’d research them just the way I would if I was handling a case in which that issue arose – I’d look for legal precedents and consult criminal defense lawyers who had worked on similar matters.

What’s your next project?

I’m about to finish a book entitled, Legally Dead, about a hip-hop artist named Legally Dead accused of murder. He’s represented by a lawyer who has just suffered a personal tragedy that caused him to leave his law practice, and he’s looking for a cause to believe in.

As in A Conflict of Interest, the action in Legally Dead is fueled by legal peril, but the book is really about the characters struggling to deal with the consequences of their life choices.

To learn more about Adam, please visit his website.

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