Scott Turow

How did you become a writer? MY DREAM WAS TO BE A NOVELIST FROM THE TIME I WAS A KID.  I ALWAYS SAY THAT THE GREAT BREAK OF MY LITERARY CAREER WAS GOING TO LAW SCHOOL—IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST FORTUITOUS DECISIONS OF MY LIFE. I WAS A LECTURER IN THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT AT STANFORD, AND FOR ME GOING TO LAW SCHOOL MEANT GIVING UP A TEACHING CAREER. BUT I REALIZED I WAS PASSIONATE ABOUT THE LAW AND THE QUESTIONS IT ASKS, ABOUT DECIDING RIGHT FROM WRONG FOR AN ENTIRE SOCIETY, FASHIONING RULES THAT ARE FIRM YET FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO FIT THE MULTITUDE OF HUMAN CIRCUMSTANCES. THOSE QUESTIONS CONTINUE TO PREOCCUPY ME. THE TRUTH IS THAT I BECAME NOT ONLY A MUCH MORE SUCCESSFUL WRITER WHEN I STARTED WRITING ABOUT THE LAW, BUT ALSO A MUCH BETTER ONE AS WELL, BECAUSE I WAS WRITING ABOUT THINGS THAT GRIPPED ME TO THE CORE. 

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.). DICKENS, SAUL BELLOW, GRAHAM GREENE, JOHN LECARRE’. I THINK DICKENS HAD A LOT OF INFLUENCE ON THE WAY I CONCEIVE OF NOVELS, BUT THE STYLE AND CONTENT WERE MY OWN BLUNDERING DISCOVERIES. AS FOR BELLOW, THERE IS NO IMITATING HIS REMARKABLE VOICE, BUT HE CERTAINLY GAVE ME AN IDEA OF THE AMPLITUDE OF THE THIRD PERSON AND THE RICH MIX OF IDIOMS AND RHETORICS IT CAN CONTAIN.

When and where do you write? I WRITE IN THE MORNINGS. THE GREATER PORTION OF DAYS FINDS ME UP BY 7 AND LOOKING THROUGH THREE NEWSPAPERS OVER COFFEE. BY NO LATER THAN 8:30 I’M AT MY DESK, WRITING.

What are you working on now? I’M WRITING A YA NOVEL RIGHT NOW FOR WHICH MY GRANDFATHER IS THE INSPIRATION. I’VE ALSO STARTED THE RESEARCH FOR A NOVEL SET AT THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AT THE HAGUE.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? YES AND GETTING STARTED IS HARD. RESEARCH HELPS OVERCOME THE INITIAL BLOCK. LATER ON I SIMPLY RE-READ WHAT I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE.

What’s your advice to new writers? WRITE. DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO WRITE, OR FIGURE YOU’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE BECAUSE YOU’RE RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH WRITERS. NIKE PUT IT BEST: JUST DO IT. 

Bio: Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He is the author of ten best-selling works of fiction, including his first novel, Presumed Innocent (1987) and the sequel, Innocent, published by Grand Central Publishing in May, 2010. His newest novel, Identical, was published by Grand Central Publishing in October, 2013. He has also written two non-fiction books about his experiences in the law. Mr. Turow has been a partner in the Chicago office of Dentons (formerly Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal), an international law firm, since 1986, concentrating on white collar criminal defense, while also devoting a substantial part of his time to pro bono matters. He has served on a number of public bodies, including the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment to recommend reforms to Illinois’ death penalty system, and was the first Chair of Illinois’ Executive Ethics Commission which was created in 2004 to regulate executive branch employees in the Illinois State government. He is also President of the Authors Guild, the nation’s largest membership organization of professional writers, and is currently a Trustee of Amherst College.