For Dear Life (Author Interview)

For Dear Life looks like a great book.  What can you tell us about it?

It's a mystery novel about Noah Baker, a young corporate attorney with a promising future. When Noah's wife, a former TV personality, is shot, Noah is embroiled in a murder trial in which his future and his freedom are threatened. It's a novel for readers who like suspenseful legal thrillers, or anyone who loves a good, clue-filled, can-you-solve-it mystery. 


Any plans to turn it into a series?

Yes. The final chapter is designed to set up future stories about Noah and his side-kick investigator, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel.


Can you tell us a little about the character Richard Robinson?

Richard Robinson is a peculiar man with whom Noah once had a very disturbing confrontation. Twelve years later, Richard shows up at Noah's law office, wanting to hire Noah to sue the CIA for twenty million dollars. Noah believes Richard is a paranoid schizophrenic, and later learns that Richard is violent. Noah tries to distance himself from Richard, but Richard persists in contacting Noah. Did Richard shoot Noah's wife?


What scene or section did you have the most fun writing?

I love writing taut, realistic courtroom scenes. In For Dear Life there is a scene in which the defense attorney unexpectedly calls as a defense witness the police lieutenant who was responsible for collecting the evidence. The examination of the lieutenant leads to a revelation that surprises and confuses everybody, and blows up the trial. Then, it's up to Noah -- and the reader -- to make sense of the surprise evidence and figure out how it leads to the solution of the mystery.


What inspired the idea for the book?

While it is a work of fiction, many of the components of the story are based on my experiences working in the law and in mental health. Although some of the characters are inspired by real people, their names have been (slightly) changed to protect the (somewhat) innocent.


How did you come up with the title for the book?

At points in the book Noah finds himself "hanging on for dear life" to his sanity, his sense of humor, his ability to enjoy life, and the passion in his love life. I thought that it worked as both a title and a dedication, as one the themes of the story is the decision we all face about what is important to hang on to.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing For Dear Life?

It is always challenging to write scenes in which the emotions of the characters are complicated and nuanced, but if you don't try you end up with comic book villains and heroes, not real people. Sometimes choosing the right words to convey a feeling can take a long time and lots of revisions. Writing is like climbing a hill with no summit -- you can always make it better. 


What do you like to do when not writing?

I have an occasional gig as a blues musician, and I like spending time outdoors in the woods or on a lake. I'm actively involved in the preservation of wild lands in Wisconsin and Florida.


Where can readers find out more about your work?

My website is