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Q & A with Paul Levine about his SOLOMON VS. LORD Series

Photo by Alan Weissman
I was a Paul Levine fan from his Jake Lassiter series and his work on TV's JAG when I heard he was writing a new series, Solomon vs. Lord, based in part on his real-life marriage. Knowing the characters were supposed to end up together, I was afraid I wouldn't believe it when they did. As guarded as I was, I loved the whole series, four books published six months apart. I'm pleased to see the series re-released as ebooks.

for a taste of Steve and Victoria's chemistry, I'm giving away Paul's short story "Solomon & Lord Sink or Swim" for Kindle thanks to Authors on the Web.

To enter, email g_so AT yahoo DOT com with the subject line "Sink or Swim Giveaway". One entry per person. Emails must be received by Wednesday, May 9, 11:59 P.M. Eastern. Winner will be notified and announced Thursday, May 10.

Authors on the Web sent this Q & A with Paul. Read to the end for a question from me:

(We recently talked to Paul Levine, author of the “Solomon vs. Lord” legal thrillers. The books were nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber awards, and have just been released as Kindle Exclusives).

Q: Solomon vs. Lord opens with the lyrics from an old Frank Sinatra song called “But I Loved You.” That’s a little odd for a legal thriller, isn’t it?

A: Would you like me to sing a verse?

Q: Only if you must.

A:
Opposites attract, the wise men claim,
Still I wish that we had been a little more the same,
It might have been a shorter war.


Q: So, is it a thriller with humor or a mystery with romance?

A. A legal thriller with humor. A dramedy.

Q: If you had to compare the story to earlier works...?

A: Shakespeare, of course.

Q: Of course.

A: Seriously. The ‘opposites attract’ set-up goes all the way back to The Taming of the Shrew. Then there’s Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man. The Bickersons on radio. Moonlighting on television. Two people love-hate each other. Life sizzles when they’re together, fizzles when they’re apart.

Q: Let’s look at the book’s teaser:

“Victoria Lord follows all the rules...
Steve Solomon makes up his own...
When they defend an accused murderer, they’ll either end up in ruin, in jail, or in bed.”

Does that leave anything out?

A: All the kinky sex.

Q: We’re not sure if you’re being serious.

A: Totally. My working title was Fifty Shades of Plaid.

Q: One reviewer described the book as “Carl Hiaasen meets John Grisham in the court of last retort.” Fair assessment?

A: I probably bring humor to my work because, as a trial lawyer, I saw so much nuttiness in the courtroom.

Q: In The Deep Blue Alibi, there’s a chapter at a Florida nudist resort. Is it fair to ask how you researched the scene?

A: Like Jackie Chan, I do my own stunts.

Q: What about the title? Are you paying homage to John D. MacDonald’s The Deep Blue Good-By?

A: “Homage?” That’s French for cheese, isn’t it?

Q: Now you’re being facetious.

A: That’s what they pay me for.

Q: Let’s be serious. You’ve won the John D. MacDonald Fiction award. You’re not denying his influence on you.

A: After I moved to Florida, I read all of MacDonald’s Travis McGee books. When I wrote my first Jake Lassiter novel (To Speak for the Dead), one of my first fan letters was from John D. MacDonald’s son. I think JDM nailed Florida’s weirdness and corruption.

Q: Does that explain the title of your third Solomon & Lord novel, “Kill All the Lawyers?” A combination of Shakespeare and MacDonald.

A: As lawyers constantly point out, that line was spoken by a villain in “Henry VI.” The guy wanted to overthrow the government, and killing all the lawyers seemed like a good place to start.

Q: While we’re on the topic of titles—

A: Which you seem to be obsessed with.

Q: What about Habeas Porpoise?

A: I didn’t steal that one from Shakespeare.

Q: Or anyone else. That would seem to be original.

A: Here’s the story. When Bantam published the book, my editors rejected the title as too funny. Now, the story opens with two highly trained dolphins being kidnapped by some hapless animal rights people, so I thought “funny” was okay. But we settled on “Trial & Error” for the book. When I got the rights back for e-book publication, I restored the original name.

Q: Tell us about your background. Your education.

A: At Penn State, I majored in journalism. At the University of Miami Law School, I majored in the swimming pool.

Q: You’ve been a successful television writer. What advice would you give to people who want to break into Hollywood?

A: Marry a blood relative of Jerry Bruckheimer or J.J. Abrams.

Q: Lacking that, when aspiring authors or screenwriters sit down at the computer, what should they be writing?

A: Ransom notes, maybe? Look, it’s really hard to break into the business. Some people suggest writing a spec script. But that’s a tough route. Years ago, Elmore Leonard said, "Writing a script and sending it to Hollywood is like drawing a picture of a car and sending it to Detroit." So I’d recommend entry level positions as assistants or script readers. In the TV business, assistants sometimes manage to sell a script to the show they’re working on.

Q: Any last words about Solomon vs. Lord?

A: I wasn’t kidding about the kinky sex.

Gerald So: I know you wrote a Solomon vs. Lord pilot for CBS that wasn't picked up. If it were picked up, which actors would you like to see playing the regulars (including Bobby, Steve's dad, any other characters you wish)?

Paul Levine: Ah, the casting wish list. Either Vince Vaughn or Ben Stiller could bring humor and irreverent recklessness to the role of Steve Solomon. Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) would bring beauty and rigid adherence to the law. Sparks will fly. And yes, I know that Vaughn and Stiller are movie stars unlikely to do a television series. But I can dream, can't I? As for Herbert Solomon (Steve's disgraced father, a former judge), I'd go with Monk's Tony Shaloub, who has expressed an interest in the role. Bobby Solomon? You'd have to cast a wide net and come up with a 12-year-old whiz kid.


More information on Paul Levine’s website: http://www.paul-levine.com

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