Crime writer Alafair Burke draws on legal experience

Wed Sep 17, 2008 7:11am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Mystery writer Alafair Burke ended up following in the footsteps of her father, crime writer James Lee Burke, but is adamant that the craft of writing is not in her blood.

A former deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon, Burke teaches criminal law at New York's Hofstra Law School while writing, with her fifth novel, "Angel's Tip", just out, the second in a series featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher.

Burke is also the author of a series of legal novels about Portland prosecutor Samantha Kincaid.

She spoke to Reuters about writing and families:

Q: Is it hard to keep two series going at the same time?

A: "I haven't had to do the two at the same time yet. My first three novels were about Samantha Kincaid and then I had a plot for a story about the anonymity of online dating. It didn't work in Portland where everyone knows everyone so I decided to set it in New York and try my hand at a detective novel rather than a legal novel which led to Ellie Hatcher. I'd been in New York for five years and it all came together."

Q: Was it hard to shift to a detective novel?

A: "Not really. With Samantha I was drawing on the experience I had at the District Attorney's office. But as a prosecutor I spent two years as a liaison to the police and worked out of a police precinct. I would go out with patrol officers."   Continued...

<p>Alafair Burke's book Angel's Tip is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/HarperCollins/Handout</p>