#1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer exploded onto the literary stage with The Tenth Justice, a gripping, lightning-paced thriller that carries readers behind the scenes of the U.S. Supreme Court. An instant classic from the author of the seven national bestsellers, including The First Counsel, The Book of Fate, The Book of Lies and The Zero Game, The Tenth Justice prompted People magazine to declare, “ Brad Meltzer has earned the right to belly up to the bar with John Grisham, Scott Turow, and David Baldacci.”
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About the Author
Brad Meltzer is the number one New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and six other bestselling thrillers. He is also the host of the TV show Brad Meltzer's Decoded on the History Channel. He lives in Florida with his wife and three children. His sons prefer the book Heroes for My Son. His daughter prefers this one.
Date of Birth:1970
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:B.A., University of Michigan; J.D., Columbia University
On Wednesday, July 9, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Brad Meltzer, author of THE TENTH JUSTICE.
Moderator: July 9, 1997, BarnesandNoble@aol welcomed Brad Meltzer, whose first novel, THE TENTH JUSTICE, was just published. Our interviewer was Jesse Kornbluth (BookpgJK), editor of The Book Report. Our online host was BookpgXena.
BookpgJK: Great to have you here, Brad. May I call you Brad?
Brad Meltzer: Of course. Though I will also respond to "Shirley."
BookpgJK: How annoying is this scenario? A law school student gets an idea. Despite a heavy work load and the presumption of a real life, he writes a book. It turns out to be good and the next thing you know, a hotshot publisher has multi copies out and it's on the NY Times bestseller list. Brad -- be honest -- wouldn't you dislike a guy like that?
Brad Meltzer: It's so sickening it makes me want to vomit.
BookpgJK: Seriously... Are you terrified to have to write a second book? Shouldn't you quit while you're ahead?
Brad Meltzer: It's the easiest thing to quit, but I'd be a fool if I ever did.
BookpgJK: Had you ever written any fiction before?
Brad Meltzer: The first novel I ever wrote, I wrote when I got out of college. All I got for it was 24 rejection letters.
BookpgJK: What was it about?
Brad Meltzer: What I knew at the time... a tale of friendship set on a college campus.
BookpgJK: Friendship seems to be a large issue for you.
Brad Meltzer: It's something everyone can relate to. We all have friends who are old friends, we have new friends we don't trust yet, and competitive friendships we don't like to admit are competitive. That will always be fascinating.
BookpgJK: I was very impressed in TENTH JUSTICE at how much these young careerists think friendship is important. We are led to believe that young careerists think only careers are important.
Brad Meltzer: Anyone who thinks friendship is not important is writing a two-dimensional character. On this planet, there is no one who doesn't think at least one friend is important.
Question: Are there any writers you look to for inspiration? Grisham? Diehl?
Brad Meltzer: When I write, I NEVER read within the genre I write in. So during this book, I read a lot of science fictionAllen Moore's WATCHMAN and Gaiman's SANDMAN. Not reading other writers' stuff is the best way to keep my voice honest and true.
Question: How long did it take you to write TENTH JUSTICE?
Brad Meltzer: About a year, 18 months. It was hard to tell because in that year I was in law school, got married, and took the bar exam.
BookpgJK: How many hours a night did you sleep?
Brad Meltzer: Few. I tried to write from 8-11 every night, but never on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, about 5 hours each.
BookpgJK: When did you know this one was "working?"
Brad Meltzer: There is a point in every novel when you stop telling the characters what you want them to do and they start telling you what THEY want to do. That is when you know it is working.
BookpgJK: What kind of research did you do?
Brad Meltzer: No one on the Supreme Court would talk to me. So I tracked down as many former clerks as I could. One of them told me, "This plot could happen." With that, I knew I was headed in the right direction.
BookpgJK: If your brand-new wife had not liked the book, would you have dumped her?
Brad Meltzer: Not a chance -- unless she REALLY didn't like the book.
BookpgJK: When did she read it?
Brad Meltzer: She is the ONLY person who reads it as I write it. And it doesn't go out the door unless it gets past her BS meter.
BookpgJK: Which character do YOU identify with?
Brad Meltzer: I'd say "Lisa" -- but I'd probably be lying. In many respects, the easy answer is true... I identified with every one of them. Tell MHanlon I do have a very strong feminine side! I know all about pantyhose!
BookpgJK: Watch out lurkers! Brad Meltzer is EVERYWHERE! Back to the book... you DON'T see yourself doing what your main character did? Making an innocent mistake that almost ends his young career?
Brad Meltzer: Everyone has been in a position where they wished they could take back what they just said. I probably did that about five minutes ago. So, of course, you could blow it at a second's notice.
Question: Do you think all the advance publicity will hurt or enhance your future as a novelist?
Brad Meltzer: Hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt -- let the backlash begin.
BookpgJK: Ok, so what have you bought with the money?
Brad Meltzer: With my first check, I paid off my college and law school loans. All we bought besides was a new couch and a new computer.
BookpgJK: Is there a film deal?
Brad Meltzer: Yes. But if you want to know what TENTH JUSTICE is about, read the book.
Question: Did you always want to be a writer? Did you always have the inkling?
Brad Meltzer: Never saw it -- even though it was in front of my face. In college, I did all my essays, regardless of the course, in dialogue form. When I graduated college, I had so many student loans to pay off that I took a job at GAMES Magazine. My boss's offer was Stay here for a year... if you like it, continue... if you hate it, leave. The week I got to work, my boss got a call from an old friend named Bill Clinton. And Clinton said, "How about running my campaign for President?" My boss left. I was alone in Boston. I knew almost no one. I figured "I have a lot of free time. Everyone has one novel. I'll take my shot." I took my first paycheck and instead of paying loans, I bought a Mac. I pumped out an 800-page monster over a year. I threw out the first 300 pages and got an agent. We sent it out to publishers and got those 24 rejection letters. That novel is still sitting on my shelves... "Published by Kinko's."
BookpgJK: Will it get published now?
Brad Meltzer: I don't see the need to clean my closet yet. I think you should put your best work out.
Question: What do you in your free time -- when you are not writing?
Brad Meltzer: I'm a movie freak. And I spend a lot of time with friends.
BookpgJK: And these friends -- do they suddenly like you more? Do they hope to be in your next book? Or do they see themselves in TENTH JUSTICE?
Brad Meltzer: My friends are smart. They certainly don't like me more.
BookpgJK: When I interviewed John Grisham, he said, "The best thing about the law was getting out of it." So did Richard North Patterson. What is it about the law that makes lawyers not like it, and will you ever be the lawyer you were trained to be?
Brad Meltzer: The worst part is all the noogies and purple nurples. As for practicing law... I'll do everything in my power not to.
BookpgJK: Did you know this while in law school?
Brad Meltzer: I went to law school because I thought it would be intellectually interesting. But I much favor my creative side -- which I get from writing.
BookpgJK: Really annoy us and tell us you're halfway through your next novel.
Brad Meltzer: I will now annoy you. I've been working on it for awhile.
BookpgJK: Are friends in it? Is the law?BMeltzer
Brad Meltzer: It's a legal thriller, but I'm bound by contract not to talk about the plot. You know how those lawyers can be!
Question: What has been the most rewarding result of being a published and critically acclaimed writer?
Brad Meltzer: Watching my wife open the book and read the dedication.
Question: Do you watch Court TV?
Brad Meltzer: Never.
BookpgJK: Why not?
Brad Meltzer: Too many lawyers.
Question: Where do you get your ideas?
Brad Meltzer: Good ideas are usually right in front of your face. You just have to know where your face is.
BookpgJK: It often happens that a young writer turns out a popular book and is besieged by offers that seem terrific write for VANITY FAIR, do a script. Has this happened to you?
Brad Meltzer: Nope.
Question: What do you think of the online chat format? Are you much of a surfer in your free time?
Brad Meltzer: E-mail fiend. But I surf rarely.
BookpgJK: Do you use the Web for research?
Brad Meltzer: Yes. That's what I use it for most.
BookpgJK: So if we could hack your account, we might figure out the plot of the new novel.
Brad Meltzer: That's cute. And yes, SMDMDW, I agree... my picture is way too serious. And they airbrushed my birthmarks!
BookpgJK: Should Matt Perry be in this movie when he gets out of rehab?
Brad Meltzer: Ask the director. (I'll play that one safe!)
Question: Do you write for the sake of plot and intensity, for the sake of entertainment? Or do you write with the intention of educating, or addressing justice, morality in the O. J. age?
Brad Meltzer: I enjoy it the most when I'm writing characters. If the characters are real, everything else takes care of itself.
BookpgJK: I thought we'd get through this without any mention of O. J., but as long as we didn't... let's find out. How many O. J. books have you read?
Brad Meltzer: Zero.
BookpgJK: If you won a date with Marcia Clark, would you go?
Brad Meltzer: Depends on who pays for the date.
BookpgJK: Her advance was bigger. Can you handle that?
Brad Meltzer: As I said, I have a strong feminine side.
BookpgJK: On the strength of this experience, do you see yourself haunting chat rooms in search of characters?
Brad Meltzer: Who says I haven't?
BookpgJK: On that ambiguous note, let me say how much fun it's been to have you here.
Brad Meltzer: Thanks. And thanks to everyone who has supported this book.