On book-launch day, I found that my life imitated my art
November 10, 2014
What does an author do on book-launch day? Champagne?
Me, I spent November 3, the official publication date for One Red Thread, on jury duty. How appropriate is that for an author whose publisher specializes in crime, mystery and literary fiction?
Especially for a book that mixes all three styles—and places a crime deep in the story? Way back, as my protagonist Eddy McBride notes, at the “headwaters,” the beginning of the river of events the story is following.
Back where we can see a crime happen, suspect a witness's untruths and a jury’s rush to decision, and come to know a condemned man.
Now my jury did a lot better than the jury in One Red Thread. We weren’t dealing in life and death, for one thing. But all day, up and down the corridors of the courthouse, in the jury box, in the jury room, I gave a lot of thought to what happens when a jury doesn’t do well.
The condemned man in One Red Thread certainly had some thoughts on that. Here’s the way he put it in his last words, as he speaks from the gallows:
“But,” he abruptly started again. “Some are hastened along their way. Some have the help of a state that rushes a trial. Some have the help of juries with made-up minds. And some have the help of men who bear false witness. The man who convicted me to drop here,” he said, pointing to the trapdoor below his feet, “was a false witness. The state didn’t do right. The jury didn’t do right. But it was a false witness that convicted me to drop here.”
Time, justice (or the lack thereof) and the consequences of one’s actions—they not only conspire against this one poor soul, they begin a decades-long chain of often disastrous events in my story. They do their work every day at courthouses everywhere. And they provide a strong point of interest as One Red Thread moves out into the world.