#309 – Writing a Legal Thriller with Alexandra Shapiro

In this episode, we chatted with Alexandra Shapiro, criminal defense lawyer and debut author as of 2021. We asked Alexandra about working with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, how her career as a lawyer helped her creative writing, why so many lawyers are also amazing authors, legal thriller and sci-fi crossovers, and much more.

In this episode, we chatted with Alexandra Shapiro, criminal defense lawyer and debut author as of 2021. We asked Alexandra about working with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, how her career as a lawyer helped her creative writing, why so many lawyers are also amazing authors, legal thriller and sci-fi crossovers, and much more. We had a great conversation with Alexandra – if you are interested in writing a legal thriller, learning more about how to write legal dramas effectively and accurately, or in need of some great writing advice and encouragement in general, don’t miss this episode.

Alexanda’s legal thriller, Presumed Guilty, is available now! For more information on Alexandra’s debut novel, visit her website or follow Alexandra on Instagram and Twitter.

In this episode:

  • We talk to Alexandra about her law career, and some of the causes she is passionate about
  • Alexandra tells us about her journey into writing fiction, and why she felt she already had the skills needed in place for a successful time spent writing
  • We hear more about her legal thriller, Presumed Guilty, and what inspired the story
  • She talks about what kinds of details one might see in investigations, and how one can use these details in their writing of a legal thriller
  • Alexandra offers her own writing advice, and touches upon how she has received some great writing advice over the time she has spent writing
  • She recommends ways to research to improve your writing, and why this is important to help create a great legal thriller
  • And much more!

Useful Links

Alexandra’s website

Alexandra’s law firm

Alexandra on Instagram and Twitter

Presumed Guilty

Mentioned in this episode:

Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss

New Degree Press

Alexandra Shapiro is a criminal defense lawyer and one of the leading appellate lawyers in the United States. She was one of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s first clerks on the Supreme Court, served as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, and later founded an elite litigation “boutique” firm that handles many high-profile cases. For information about Alexandra’s law practice, click here.

In early 2021, Alexandra embarked on a new journey — fiction writing. She wanted to raise awareness about problems with the criminal justice system and how sometimes even innocent people can get unfairly prosecuted in the United States. Her book shows how the system does not always function properly even for those with significant financial resources, let alone the numerous criminal defendants who face the challenge of prosecution with little to no resources at all.

The book is a legal thriller entitled Presumed Guilty: A Novel and was published in March 2022 by New Degree Press.  It is currently available in paperback and e-book formats.
 
Alexandra, a native New Yorker, has three children, lives in Manhattan with her husband (another criminal defense lawyer) and is an avid photographer. You can view some of her photographic work here.

Episode Transcript

Transcription by www.speechpad.com

Rachel: Hey, writers, you’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast,” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your hosts. I’m Rachel, promotion specialist at Kobo Writing Life.

Laura: And I’m Laura, author engagement manager at Kobo Writing Life.

Rachel: On today’s episode of the podcast, we spoke to author Alexandra Shapiro. Alexandra is a criminal defense lawyer, and one of the leading appellate lawyers in the United States. And in early 2021, she embarked on a new journey, fiction writing, with her debut novel, “Presumed Guilty,” being published in March 2022.

Laura: We talked to Alexandra about writing her legal thriller, “Presumed Guilty,’ her law career, and some of the causes she’s passionate about, like criminal justice reform.

Rachel: It was a great conversation and we hope you enjoy.

All right. We are joined today by criminal defense attorney and author, Alexandra Shapiro. Alex, thank you so much for joining us.

Alexandra: Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

Rachel: So, to kick things off, would you mind just kind of starting off by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Alexandra: Sure. So, I’m currently a criminal defense attorney and practice at a small firm that I founded with some other folks about 12 or 13 years ago. But I started my career in the early 1990s. After graduating from law school, I clerked for two federal judges, the second of whom was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her first year on the Supreme Court. And then after that, I was a federal prosecutor in New York, which is where I live now, for about five years. And then moved over to the defense side initially, working at a large international law firm before starting my current firm. And yeah, I do a lot of criminal defense work. I do a lot of appeals and other types of litigation as well.

Rachel: Now, I’m just gonna bring it back a little bit. I really just have to ask about working with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’m sure you get asked about this all the time, but just what was that experience like?

Alexandra: Yeah. No, I do get asked a lot, and understandably so. It was a really great experience, so particularly unique for me and my co-clerks, I think, because, although at that point in her career, Ginsburg had been a federal judge for 13 years. It was her first year on the Supreme Court, and a lot of things were different. And so, we were kind of learning the job with her, if you will. And so, that was really special. And she was a great boss. That was before she was sort of a pop culture icon and all the rest of it at the beginning of her tenure on the Supreme Court. But she’s an amazing person, amazing lawyer and judge, incredibly intelligent, great writer, and you know, just she was a demanding boss in a really good way, like, really insisted on, you know, the highest quality work, but she was also, like, a great human being. She and her husband would have the clerks to their home. Her husband, everyone knows, was a fantastic chef. The Justice knew nothing about cooking, but he was a great French chef, and he was a really fun guy with a great sense of humor, much more outgoing than she was. She was kind of a reserved person, but it was just a great early start to my career as well.

Rachel: That’s really cool. And like you said, she is an icon, and you must have lots of stories that you share, not on a podcast. But just kinda sticking with your legal career for a minute before we get into writing as this is a writing podcast, you mentioned that you started as a prosecutor, and then moved into criminal defense. And I’m just curious, is there a reason why you made that move?

Alexandra: Yeah. So, it’s not that uncommon, but I would say, my personal journey was, I joined the US Attorney’s Office because I’m interested in criminal law, and I thought it would be really interesting to be a prosecutor, and I learned a ton about how you investigate criminal cases and also, you know, how trials work. And I did a little bit of appellate work as well, but it was mostly investigations and trials. And you know, it was very cops and robbers and that was very fun. I did a lot of actual violent gang prosecutions, and I kind of came to a point in my tenure there where I was trying to decide whether I should stay and go into one of the more complex white-collar units or become a defense lawyer. And it seemed, to me, that some of the work in the white-collar units wasn’t really that different from what I’d been doing, it was just a different type of crime. But the cases, you know, were very open and shut in a way, once you developed them if you had the evidence.

And so, I wasn’t sure I’d learned that much more from that. And then there was another type of case, which were the more challenging cases where, for instance, basically whether someone had committed a crime was very gray. And I just felt that I would be more comfortable in those types of cases on the defense side, because I’m a bit of a libertarian when it comes to the criminal justice system, and I just thought I’d be more comfortable defending people who may have done something that, afterwards, the fact some prosecutor decided was wrong, but it wasn’t so clear at the time that it was really unlawful. And I really just, I guess, got to a point where I just wanted to try something new. I hadn’t worked in private practice, unlike some young prosecutors, and so, I didn’t really have any experience representing clients, and I was interested also in that aspect of it, and just getting some experience on that side.

Rachel: That’s so interesting, and definitely plays into your book, which we are here to talk about, “Presumed Guilty. You mentioned in your bio that you started writing to raise awareness about problems in the criminal justice system, and I imagine you see a lot of that in that gray area. Why did you choose fiction as your method to discuss this?

Alexandra: Yeah, so that’s a great question that I get asked a lot. And actually, when I first started thinking about writing a book, I was contemplating a non-fiction work about a particular case that I had handled that I thought had ended very unfairly. But it was a very complicated case involving a huge foreign exchange transaction, and even trying to explain the facts to lawyers can be challenging. And I thought, you know, it would be difficult to get the message across, and you know, not a lot of people would wanna read about the nitty-gritty of what that case was about. And actually, another experienced author, someone who had written a few books, although not fiction, said to me, “Well, what about fiction? Why don’t you write a fictional book?” And that seemed like a great idea, both because I could create a simpler scenario to make some of the same points, and also because, you know, it gives me more creative liberty. I don’t have to worry about privilege and other, you know, things when a lawyer’s writing about a case they were involved with. And I just thought it would be really fun. I mean, I’d read a lot of fiction and probably fantasized, like a lot of people, about someday writing a novel. So, you know, I thought I would try my hand at it and see what happened.

Laura: We interview a lot of authors on the podcast, and there seems to be a lot of crossover between lawyers and authors. Do you have like kind of a hypothesis as to why that is?

Alexandra: Yeah, that’s interesting. Well, you know, I guess it depends on what type of lawyer you are, but certainly, anyone who does any kind of litigation will typically do a lot of writing, and it’s a very different kind of writing, but good litigators usually have good writing skills, and so, that might be one reason, you know, a lot of lawyers write books. Beyond that, I don’t know. The other thing I guess I would say about litigators in particular is that a lot of our craft involves telling stories, if you will, even though, you know, they’re hopefully true stories grounded in facts and evidence in a case. But a lot of being a good lawyer, whether you’re presenting an argument to a jury or even to an appellate court, is about telling a story in an effective way, in a way that keeps a listener engaged. And so, I think good lawyers, at least some of them, may have talents that translate readily into writing.

Rachel: That’s so interesting about the storytelling from a litigation standpoint. I never really put those two together. I always knew there was a lot of writing involved when it came to working in law, which actually leads me into my next question, which is, how did you find the transition from writing for litigation purposes into writing fiction?

Alexandra: Yeah, so it was really interesting, and I had the good fortune to be working with a development editor. So, I would write scenes and get feedback from an editor who had a lot of experience with fiction. And she also, I guess years before I had actually been a lawyer, which was helpful as well. But it is very different. And one of the things that I found to be kind of different is, at least for me, and I’m sure every fiction writer has a different process, but when I’m writing a brief, I tend to do… You know, you really have to think in advance and try to outline things pretty carefully, and there’s just a certain rigor to kind of knowing where you’re going with it. Although, even in legal writing, you get new ideas as you’re writing, obviously.

But I found with the book that, although I had a basic idea of, you know, how the story was gonna work, and I started out by coming up with some characters and just kind of developing character sketches before I started writing some of the scenes, that my process was a bit more haphazard in the sense that I wrote in scenes, and at the beginning, they actually weren’t even necessarily in the order in which they appear in the book. By the time I got to the trial, which is really the second half of the book, I did write it in order, but I found that as I was writing a scene, I might get new ideas and it would go off in a different direction than maybe I, you know, had… And I would sort of go with the flow and just get… I thought that that aspect of the process and the way in which, at least, I found that I was getting new ideas about what should happen, or what characters should say as I was writing, was really interesting and really nice, you know, just to have a different… I almost feel like it’s using a different part of your brain somehow, which was exciting.

Laura: So, can you tell our listeners a little bit about your book, “Presumed Guilty”? And was there a specific case or story that inspired you to create the story, or was it the one you mentioned before?

Alexandra: Yes. So, the book tells a story of a woman named, Emma Simpson, who is the head of the New York office of a big hedge fund, which, you know, invests in stocks for investors. And what happens is, her fund is being investigated for insider trading by the US Attorney’s Office here in Manhattan. And they’re having trouble proving the case. The book takes place in the like between 2012 and 2014, which is a time period where there were a lot of insider trading cases that actually really brought in this district. But basically, you know, these very aggressive prosecutors are looking into this, they really wanna make a case, but the evidence just isn’t there. However, there was a point during the investigation when Ms. Simpson was at a meeting, and she learned from someone at the meeting that a subpoena had been issued to this company’s Boston office.

And later that day, one of her colleagues sends an email saying, “Hey, we’re going through a change to our computer system. Everyone should make sure they clean up their files, essentially, under a company policy that basically says, you know, you should clean up your file. It’s called document retention, but these policies typically are really about what you should keep and what you should throw out.” And she, on her way home from a very long commute, forwards that and kind of reiterates it. And then, what ends up happening is, she gets prosecuted for obstruction of justice because the prosecutors think that she sent that email because she heard about the subpoena, and she wanted everyone to destroy their documents. So, that’s kind of the story, and it tells the story from her perspective as well as from the prosecutor’s perspective. And then, you know, leads to a trial, and I don’t wanna give away the ending. But as I mentioned earlier, kind of the second half of the book is about the trial.

So, it’s not based on any one particular case. What I would say is… And the case that I mentioned earlier was a different sort of case. It involved foreign exchange traders. It’s a slightly different aspect of the financial industry, but I do do a lot of work that touches on the financial industry in one way or another. So, I have a lot of experience with those types of cases. You know, one of the reasons I chose this type of charge was that it’s not that uncommon. And when prosecutors have trouble proving a crime, and they really think like a person committed a crime, or a company was involved in criminal activity that they go to these so-called process crimes like obstruction of justice or, you know, another example, which I wasn’t involved in, the Martha Stewart case some years ago. She wasn’t charged with insider trading, but the government said she lied during a meeting with them about the underlying facts.

So, that’s often kind of how these process crimes are used. And they’ve been in the news a lot in the last few years because of the Mueller investigation here, and some other, you know, things related to the Trump presidency. So, I thought it was topical. And it goes back, you know, even to things like… You know, it’s not a new phenomenon. I mean, during the Watergate era, peoples would talk about how it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. So, I thought that was a good vehicle for a story because it’s not uncommon that that’s what prosecutors will latch onto in circumstances like this.

Rachel: And as somebody with very limited understanding of law outside of what I’m sure are not accurate television shows, just the idea that sending an email that you think is so innocuous results in going to trial, is just mind-blowing to me. It’s wild. Really, makes you rethink all the emails that you sent out for.

Alexandra: Yeah, no, exactly. And you know, obviously, the facts presented in the book are a bit exaggerated. Certainly, one hopes that it would be rare that a case like that would actually get brought, so that’s partially for effect. But the truth of the matter is that emails can get completely blown out of proportion in investigations. And of course, everyone sends many, many emails that, you know, typically almost every day or certainly every week in a lot of different jobs. And you know, I’ve had many experiences where a client who was cooperating with an investigation was being interviewed five years after some set of facts happened about one email out of 100s they might have sent that day. And often, the people don’t even remember the emails. But often to the prosecutors, you know, they might not even believe that you don’t remember the email, or they can sometimes take things out of context and so you… Really, people need to be more careful than they are with email, I think. And the same, there’s even more different ways, you know, now that we have so many different ways to send messages, different kinds of apps, and it all gets stored forever. So, you know, you gotta be careful when you’re in a professional setting what you say in writing, I guess is the point.

Rachel: As someone who can barely remember what emails I sent this morning, getting a little nervous over here. But we’re good, no finances are happening on my end.

Alexandra: Sure, that’s fine.

Rachel: We’re good. One thing I did wanna ask because you obviously are very well versed in the law is, when you’re writing for an audience like us who, again, very limited law experience, how did you balance including legal jargon without having to have too much exposition about it?

Alexandra: Yeah, and hopefully, I erred on the side without having too much. A lot of that was getting helpful feedback from the editors and some beta readers, like friends and family who read early drafts of either the whole manuscript or parts of it, many of whom were not lawyers. But yeah, my goal was to try to present some of the things that happened that the ordinary person might not know about but try to do it in a way that was understandable. And one way I did that, which was part of something I learned from my editors early on that I hadn’t really thought about because I had never written fiction even though I’ve read a lot of it, so it should have been obvious to me, but at the beginning, sometimes I would have these explanatory discussions, and they would always say, show not tell.

So, I, hopefully, learned how to work some of the things I was trying to, you know, teach people about, if you will, just into normal dialogue between the characters, so that it was more implied than being explained. So, you know, I don’t know if I achieved that, but I was definitely trying to strike, as you said, a good balance between teaching people a little bit about some of the details, and some of the unfairnesses that are actually worked into how the rules work. Not even, you know, that the system is being run by humans who have different flaws and biases, but also just that some of the rules are quite stacked in favor of the prosecution in ways that ordinary people might not be aware of.

Rachel: I think it is always like regardless of genres, such a hard balance to strike between having too much exposition that feels like exposition, and including it in the story. And I mean, I think you did a great job. I’m not just buttering you up.

Alexandra: That’s great.

Rachel: But I am curious what the feedback process was like for you. As you said, you had beta readers, friends, and family, what was that experience like sharing your book?

Alexandra: Yeah. So, it was tremendously helpful both in terms of like the professional editors, like I’ve been talking about, and then also sharing the book with several friends and family, which ranged from one of my siblings who has nothing to do with law, and is in a totally different field, and doesn’t know anything about the financials industry. And I got really helpful feedback from her just about her reaction to some of the characters, which ones she liked and didn’t like. And a couple of other non-lawyers had some feedback early on about the characters that made me make some changes, either to make them more likable or not, depending on who the character was. That was super helpful. And then, I also had one beta reader who had previously worked in publishing and is now a lawyer, and he also had some good feedback that, hopefully, led to a little bit better development of the characters and certain intrigue that I introduced.

It was really helpful process because there’s a lot of… You know, you’re so wrapped up in your own book, and it really gives you a more objective view of how different kinds of readers might react to different things and how you might change things to hopefully make it more readable and more, in this case, like gripping since it’s a thriller, I wanted people to feel like they didn’t wanna put the book down. And the other thing I’ll mention in that regard is that when I was writing the book, I took this book creator class that introduced me also to several other individuals who were working on books. And it was a great community to just get feedback on various types of things that came up during the writing process. And they were very supportive once the book launched as well and helping to, you know, develop a little more of a social media presence around it and things like that. So, I think it’s, you know, people think of writing a book as something you do alone, like, with you and your computer in a room, but I bet all successful books, even from bestselling authors involve a collaborative process with various other readers and editors who are helping them along the way.

Rachel: And I think if there’s one common thread that we always hear on this podcast from writers is that the community of writers is both so important to the process and the journey, but it’s also just so welcoming and warm and there’s no like big competition, and I love it so much.

Alexandra: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s a great part of the process.

Laura: Was there anything that kind of surprised you about the publishing or, like, writing process that you weren’t expecting going into it?

Alexandra: That’s a good question. I can’t say that there was like one thing in particular. I guess one thing I will say, which is, before I went into it, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to how the publishing industry works, and you know, self-publishing and things like that. And I was published by what’s known as a hybrid publisher where, you know, as I said, there’s a lot of professional editing. They even had a development editor from the get-go. But it’s not a traditional publisher. And I’m a big fan of this approach. I can understand why, you know, famous people and others who have the kind of connections to be able to make a deal with a traditional publishing house would wanna go that route. But there’s some real advantages. I mean, you keep all your intellectual property rights, and you may have to do a lot more work on your own to market the book, but I think the hybrid route is really good because you get the assistance of professional editors, and guidance from the publishing company, and they also give you a lot of tools for the marketing process.

And this was New Degree Press, I really liked all the people that I worked with. And so, I would certainly recommend this process to anyone thinking about writing a book, you know, rather than like… Because I’ve talked to people even since I wrote the book, some friends and colleagues who had turned out had been working on books for years and trying to get an agent, and I haven’t read their books, but I’m sure based on what I know about them, that they have a lot to say about the topic, these are non-fiction books. And so, I was recommended to people in that situation, you should think about working with a hybrid publisher like New Degree Press because they can really provide a lot of the support, and you can get your book published. And it was a really great journey for me.

Rachel: Well, that’s awesome, and we love indie publishing over here. I do have one more question kind of about the writing process, and no spoilers will be given, but did you know how you wanted the book to end when you started writing it?

Alexandra: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah.

Rachel: You don’t have to expand if you don’t wanna spoil it.

Alexandra: Yeah, I thought about other alternatives, but I think I was pretty much thinking it would end the way it did from the get-go. So yeah.

Laura: In the acknowledgments of the book, you mentioned that everyone should try to get involved in criminal justice reform. Do you have any resources that you recommend or organizations people should look into if they wanna learn more?

Alexandra: Yeah. So, there are a whole bunch of them. I’ll just mention quickly two organizations that I’ve been involved with, and have donated some of the proceeds from the book, too. One of them is quite well known, called the Innocence Project. And they’ve been around for some time, and a lot of their work involves working to help exonerate innocent defendants through things like DNA evidence. And that’s a fantastic organization. But another one that’s maybe a little bit less known that I think is terrific is Gideon’s Promise. And that’s an organization that helps to bring resources to bear, to help educate public defenders around the country. So, there are public defenders. Most defendants are indigent and can’t afford their own counsel, and they get court-appointed lawyers. And in many areas, there aren’t great resources for that. And so, this organization goes around training public defenders, particularly in areas that don’t have great resources. And so, those are just two that I wanted to mention off the top of my head that I’m a huge supporter of.

Rachel: Yeah, we’ll definitely include links to both of those in our show notes. And just kind of staying in the acknowledgments for a second, you also mentioned that there could be a lack of reliability when it comes to eyewitness statements, and I just find that really interesting. And like obviously, the lack of reliability can play a really interesting part in fiction, but in real life, like the consequences are much more dire. And I was just wondering if you could talk a bit about that.

Alexandra: Yeah. So, there have been a number of studies over the years. A lot of psychologists and others have looked into this, where in a lot of cases that are based on eyewitness testimony, you know, the witness only gets a look at the perpetrator very quickly, and people can make huge mistakes, and they can also sometimes be led into a false identification. So, in America, there are some procedural protections. So, for instance, if a police officer is talking to an eyewitness, and trying to get them to make an identification, they’re supposed to use either a photo array that has, like, photographs of maybe the person the police officers thinks to as well as other people who look very similar, or, you know, they have a lineup where the people physically show up behind a glass or whatever.

And that’s a little more reliable because, at least, it’s not as suggestive as just showing someone a picture of one person or something like that. But even in those scenarios, people can make mistakes because there are just all these flaws with our memory and perception that there are tons of… you know, I’m not very qualified to talk about the details of this, but that have been demonstrated by a lot of different studies. And yeah, so, you know, it’s funny because you think an eyewitness idea is so powerful, but it’s often wrong actually in real life, which it’s troubling. It’s a good thing that there’s more and more situations where we have video surveillance, and you can at least look at it if there’s footage taken at the relevant time. That gives you, like, a better and more reliable indicator of whether, you know, the defendant is the person in the video.

Laura: Do you have any advice for authors who may not come from the same kind of background as you, but are interested in writing legal thrillers?

Alexandra: So, I would say to read a lot of legal thrillers. You know, read about the particular topic you end up deciding to cover. I mean, one of the reasons I enjoyed writing the book, and I felt comfortable with it, was that a lot of the things that I was writing about were things I had personally experienced. And so, I felt like I was writing from knowledge. And, you know, it even includes, like this doesn’t have anything to do with the legal stuff, but the places that I wrote about a lot, there’s a lot of reality to that. And sometimes I would need to google things. Like, I wanted things to be accurate to the timeframe. So, you know, if I had a discussion about a piece of technology, I might check, did that exist at that time or is it newer? You know, just to make sure.

But I guess the reason I’m bringing that up is what I would say is, I think the best fiction, just like the best nonfiction, does involve some research and you really need to… You can more accurately portray a fictional story in a realistic way if you know something about the subject. So, if you’re not a lawyer and you wanna read a legal thriller, I would say like, read a lot of legal thrillers, maybe like read books or watch documentaries about real crime. I love “True Crime” personally, actually there’s some great… And just try to learn about the legal system in a way that you can try to portray things more realistically. But, I mean, it is true that a lot of the best fiction in this genre is by former authors or current lawyers like John Grisham, and others like that. But I wouldn’t say that a non-lawyer can’t do it, you know, you just have to watch some trials and do some research, so that you know what you’re talking about.

Rachel: So, I also love “True Crime” so I will want any recommendations you have. But I also have a question about, not “True Crime” and if there are any things about working in the world of law that you see portrayed on TV, movies, or in books that is just so inaccurate and just drives you up the wall.

Alexandra: Yeah. I mean, that definitely happens a lot. I can’t think of like a specific example, but I will say that sometimes the trial scenes are ridiculous because you’ll watch a movie, and they’ll have some lawyer asking questions that, you know, they’re more like making a speech or something. It’s like a totally improper question or things like that. And, you know, you understand it’s for the drama of it, but a really good cross-examination could be very dramatic. So, I sometimes wish, you know, that they would hue a little more closely to what really happens. But yeah, it varies from show to show as to kind of what’s realistic and what’s not. And, you know, it’s just like, I’m sure when doctors, if they watch Grey’s Anatomy, they probably go crazy and are like, the hospital is not a constant source of like affairs, and like, all these so crazy other and things that happen in the show. So, there’s definitely a lot of… A lot of it is mostly, I would say, like I said, the trial scenes where I think to dramatize things, they don’t follow the rules of evidence, and people are saying things in their opening statement that no one would really be allowed to say and stuff like that.

Rachel: Do you enjoy watching legal shows, like fictional at all, or is it just like, this is not accurate enough for me, or you need a break from existing in the world of law?

Alexandra: No, I’m pretty particular about which ones I think are good, and which ones aren’t. But actually, some of my favorite fictional shows are kind of crime shows, like “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire”. I loved both of those shows. So, I definitely like them when they’re well done. Some of the real crime ones, there was a document… I’m trying to… “Making a Murderer.” Have you seen that? It’s really good. And there was a sequel to it, I think. I forget what it was called, or whether they just called it Season 2 that followed the post-conviction stuff. And then, I actually just started watching this show on Hulu called, “Candy.” Have you heard of it? They say it’s based on a real murder, but they have all these disclaimers. So, I don’t know how much of it is actually true, but it’s pretty good. It’s about these people in this town in Texas, and this woman gets killed at the beginning of the show, and I’ve only watched a couple of episodes. And then the other thing I would say is the book, “Fatal Vision” is really good. That’s about this series of murders of this family in North Carolina where the husband got accused and convicted of it. And it’s really fascinating book.

Rachel: Those are great recommendations, especially as it’s September when we’re recording this. We’re just getting into like the cozy fall, spooky season. That’s when I love to read all my thrillers. Are there any other like, specific stories that you wanna tell as a writer?

Alexandra: Yeah. So, I’m not sure, like I’ve actually started thinking about writing a second book, but I’m really busy in my legal practice this fall, so I don’t think I’m gonna… If I can really do it, I probably won’t start writing it until next year. So, I wouldn’t say there’s another specific story that I wanna tell, but I really enjoyed this process, and I think I’d like to write another legal thriller. The other thing I’ll say, and this is gonna sound a bit off the wall, but I also love fantasy and science fiction. So, I also had been thinking about maybe seeing if I could find some way to combine the two genres and write like a legal thriller that somehow involves, it’s gonna sound crazy, but like aliens or something like that. So, we’ll see if that ever sees the light of day, but…

Laura: That sounds really interesting.

Rachel: Please write that.

Laura: Yeah.

Rachel: As a huge nerd over here, that sounds incredible.

Laura: When you were describing it, I could tell Rachel was like dying to read it.

Rachel: And just kinda as we wrap things up here, we’re very cognizant of your time as you are, as you said busy. Where can our listeners find you online?

Alexandra: So, I have a website which is, http://www.alexandrashapiro.com. And I’m also on Twitter and Instagram. And my handle on both of them is, alex_s_author. And if you need legal representation, my law firm’s http://www.shapiroarato.com.

Rachel: Perfect. We’ll include links to all of those in our show notes. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been so informative and such a blast.

Alexandra: Thanks so much for having me. It’s really been great chatting with both of you.

Rachel: Thank you.

Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you’re interested in picking up Alexandra’s book, “Presumed Guilty,” or learning more about her, we will include links to both her book and her website in our show notes. If you are enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self-publishing business, you can find us at, kobowritinglife.com, and be sure you are following us on socials. We are @KoboWritingLife on Facebook and Twitter, and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.

Laura: This episode was produced by Laura Granger, and Rachel Wharton, with production assistance by Terrence Abrahams. Editing is provided by Kelly Robotham. Our theme music is composed by Tear Jerker. And thanks to, Alexandra Shapiro, for being a guest.

Rachel: If you’re ready to start your publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.

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