Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Interview with M.D. Cliatt
Today we welcome novelist M.D. Cliatt as she tours her novel The Public Pretenter with VBT Cafe.
M.D. has donated an e-copy of her book to a lucky commentor on this blog, so make sure to leave your email address if you'd like a chance to win!
Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, M.D. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Georgia. When I was seventeen, I ran away from home, moved in with my high school bus driver and then married my boyfriend a few months later when I turned eighteen. I finished high school, attended college, had two sons and then moved my family to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania so I could attend law school. Today, I’m still married to my high school sweetheart, have two teenagers and I’m a lawyer and adjunct law professor.
Please tell us about your current release, The Public Pretender.
The story is about a fiery criminal defense attorney, Maeven Dayne, who specializes in representing juvenile defendants. When it comes to her job, she’s driven and passionate. When it comes to her family, she’s devoted, but her job is demanding and distracting. She pleases her husband when she decides to quit her job to spend more time with the family. But, on Maeven’s last day at work in the courtroom, a juvenile probation officer she despises drags a weeping young girl before an irritated judge for an unscheduled hearing while Maeven is packing up her things to leave. She is walking out of the courtroom, fighting her urge to turn around when she hears the probation officer had the girl incarcerated for weeks without notifying her parents or arranging for representation. Maeven can’t resist the girl’s pitiful pleas for help and intervenes.
She discovers people are profiting from imprisoning innocent kids. A whistleblower ends up dead, but he’s left clues. When her oldest son is beaten, arrested and detained on false charges, her husband receives a message proposing an offer: Maeven must quit the girl’s case, or they lose their son. She has to choose who to sacrifice.
What inspired you to write this book?
Because I was mad about the way the juvenile justice system works and how little families knew about it, I started writing a guide. A creative spring erupted in my mind while I was writing, and I couldn’t force myself to stay within the rigid lines of legal exposition. It seemed fitting because I spent more time using stories and analogies to explain to kids and their families what was happening to them in court. And, admittedly, I enjoyed the fictional narrative more.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I have three projects swirling around in my brain right now. I’m working with my sons on a fantasy novel about a pregnant queen, I’m flirting with an idea for a romance novel, and I plan to write a sequel to The Public Pretender. I already have a plot worked out for Maeven, and I can’t wait to get back to her.
What is your writing life like?
I wake up around four in the morning when I’m the only one, besides the dog, stirring around my house. I turn on some instrumental music so lyrics don’t distract me, get a cup of tea or hot water with lemon, a pillow, a blanket and park myself on the couch in front of my bow window. Hopefully, I find my writing vibe and voice and get lost in my imagination with a particularly intriguing character and/or plot. I write for a couple of hours and then head off to work.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m still not sure, but as a kid, I would write stories in journals in an attempt to capture the magic authors seemed to possess, but I never finished--barely started really. When I finished The Public Pretender, and a couple of people told me they liked it, I thought--Maybe, just maybe. So, I’m trying my dream out for size to see if it fits.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I write part-time for now. If I could afford to write full-time, I would do it in a heartbeat. In my imagination, I have a very romantic idea about what is would be like for me to write full-time--you know, hidden in the corner of a quaint little coffee shop with my laptop cranking out plot after plot with vibrant characters or down by the river sitting on a bench. For now, I wake up early and write, and I work full-time instructing law students.
What's something fun you like to do?
I enjoy sneaking off with my husband in the middle of the day to do something unplanned--like watching a movie.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I get stuck, I like to write while bathing by candlelight.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly, as a child, I had a list. I wanted to be an actress, fashion designer, novelist and a lawyer.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you for hosting me and I look forward to your comments.
Thanks for being here, M.D.
Readers, remember to comment if you'd like a chance to win an e-copy of her book. I'll draw a winner on Friday, the 13th.
You can check out M.D.'s other tour dates and stops.