Law paved way for Richard North Patterson's writing

Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:40am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters) - As a trial lawyer, Richard North Patterson had to find simple ways to explain complex issues, understand the psychology of jurors and judges, and tell a story. All perfect training for becoming a novelist, he says.

Patterson was an assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio, partner in several law firms, as well as the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission's liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor.

But he finally tried writing aged 29 and his corporate crime thriller "The Lasko Tangent" won him the Edgar Allan Poe Award for the best 1980 debut novel and a new career was born, leading to novels such as "No Safe Place" and "Dark Lady."

Patterson joined a band of lawyers like John Grisham, Scott Turow and Linda Fairstein, who have all moved on to carve out successful careers as writers.

Patterson, 62, who retired from law in 1993 to write full-time, has just released his 17th book, "The Spire," in which he returns to a psychological suspense novel after a decade of writing politically charged fiction.

He spoke to Reuters about writing and switching careers:

Q: Did you always have ambitions to write?

A: "Not really. I always thought writing was done by other people with a talent for it and I had never really tried it. But after my experience with the Watergate prosecutor I thought I had a story to tell and I sat down to write. After 13 rejections and 3 re-writes I was published and I won an Edgar Allan Poe award."   Continued...