Debut novelist Robert McClure says he read pulp fiction as a kid when he should have been studying. McClure went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a law degree. He’s been a trial lawyer and is turning his interrogation skills into writing crime fiction. For this interview, McClure discussed how his background as an attorney helped him to improve “Deadly Lullaby.”
“What helps me the most is what caused me to pursue the criminology and law degrees in the first place: my lifelong interest in cops and robbers and all things legal. The degrees give me the practical foundation to express that passion through writing fiction, mostly in terms of requiring me to learn how to perform research. I’ve written a lot of research papers and legal briefs over the years, so I know how to track down just about any sort of information I want.”
McClure said he spent years learning the craft of writing fiction and believes those lessons are evident in “Deadly Lullaby.” He said, “I’m getting the hang of figuring out exactly what I need to find and how to translate the research to settings and characters. I spend a lot of time reading about the psychology of cops and criminals.” McClure’s psychological research doesn’t wind up spilling onto the page, however.
“Hopefully, it’s reflected in the actions my characters take, in what they say and how they say it. I devote a lot of space in the Acknowledgments section of “Deadly Lullaby” crediting my research sources, and the book wouldn’t have been half as believable without them.”
One of the things McClure believes helped him learn to write better dialogue for “Deadly Lullaby” was practicing trial law. “My legal mentors taught me early on that the best litigators watch and listen much more than they talk, so over the years I learned to pick up on people’s voice inflections, their facial expressions and body language. There is also conflict in every conversation a trial lawyer has with an opposing lawyer or party, even if it’s boiling just beneath the surface, and good fiction is rife with conflict.
“Writing dialogue therefore comes very natural to me, especially interrogation scenes. I’ve sparred with so many hostile witnesses in legal settings that crafting fictional interrogation scenes is a blast. If a character refuses to do my bidding, I can slap him around as much as I like and there’s not a damn thing he can do about it. He knows that if he doesn’t watch out, I’ll kill his ass off.”
Learn more about Robert McClure and “Deadly Lullaby” in the companion interview at terryambrose.com and at robertmcclure.net.