by Julie, wintering in Somerville
I am delighted to welcome Keenan Powell to the blog today! Her new book, Implied Consent, is garnering great reviews, and I’m delighted she’s here to tell you about the book and her process.
Why I Write Legal Thrillers
Unlike many authors, I did not always aspire to a writing career post my maudlin-poetry-writing phase in high school. At first, I aspired to a career in broadcasting. After college, I realized that I had failed miserably at leveraging myself into that career. Maria Shriver, who is exactly my age, was co-anchoring NBC Sunday Today while I worked for slightly more than minimum wage at a small sound studio. We were both twenty-one. There I was in my studio apartment, eating peanut butter sandwiches, watching her on the tube, and feeling very sorry for myself.
So I decided to take my grandmother’s advice and go to law school. A few years later, I found myself getting off the plane in Anchorage, Alaska, where I continue to practice law to this very day.
Years rolled by with no interest in writing stories but I’d become hooked on Tony Hillerman and Agatha Christie. In 2009, there were twelve homeless deaths in Anchorage during the summer months. This was particularly odd because winter was the more deadly season for those who live without shelter. People wrote letters to the editor, insisting that a serial killer was afoot. The police responded that the medical examiner had concluded each death was the result of natural causes. The public was unswayed.
In 2012, I was sitting in a continuing legal seminar listening to two old war horses bicker about a case they’d had when the world was young. The issue was whether the decedent had died of natural causes or whether his demise was the consequence of his job. Working together (for once), they quickly filed a petition in court to prevent the medical examiner from disposing of the remains because of a little-known quirk in the law. In Alaska, the medical examiner is empowered to determine the cause of death without doing an autopsy and further is entitled to dispose of (cremate) the remains within 72 hours if unclaimed.
I literally slapped my forehead, crying aloud, “That’s how he did it!” – startling the lawyer in the next chair who busy knitting. I had realized the serial killer had murdered these men in a way that looked like a natural death. This was the inspiration of my first book, Deadly Solution. The reason I wrote that book is because I wanted the world to know what I’d discovered.
Based upon Deadly Solution, I received the 2015 William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant. It was then published as the first of my three-book Maeve Malloy series, and nominated for a Agatha, Lefty, and Silver Falchion awards for best debut.
Still practicing law, I see cases that don’t turn out the way I had hoped. Writing legal thrillers give me the opportunity to fashion justice, sometimes legal, sometimes poetic. My second Maeve Malloy, Hemlock Needle, was published in January 2019. It was inspired by a rash of missing and murdered Native Alaskan women, the same crisis that inspired a series of newspaper articles published two months after Hemlock Needle was released which went on to become the basis of the ABC series, Alaska Daily. My third Maeve Malloy, Hell and High Water, deals with the fallout of Church sex abuse scandal.
This month, I released Implied Consent, a story about a fictional #metoo case. I am thrilled that so many of the Netgalley reviews averaging five stars commenton the authenticity of the legal scenes and that I made the law understandable for them. And I’m honored that Booklife gave it an Editor’s Pick Review.
Thank you so much, Julie and the Wickeds, for having me on today!
Question to readers: If you had a chance to peak behind the curtains the practice of law, what would you want to know?
Giveaway: For a chance to win one signed paperback of Implied Consent, comment below (US only).
About Implied Consent
Lawyer Maureen Gould has a dark secret and a need to prove herself. When a young woman walks into her office with a Hollywood #metoo case, Maureen spots the chance for redemption.
Enter the opponent: Maureen’s father, Frank Gould, a man as evil as the movie producer he defends. While Frank pulls every dirty trick known inside the courtroom, someone behind the scenes is engineering Maureen’s defeat. Doors are slammed in her face. Disturbing photographs are “discovered.” A witness dies mysteriously. Clearly someone means to silence her.
Will Maureen muster the strength to free herself from the past, reveal the truth, and win justice for her client?
About Keenan Powell
Keenan Powell is a Lefty and Agatha nominated author. Although she was one of original Dungeons and Dragons illustrators, art seemed an impractical pursuit – not an heiress, wouldn’t marry well, hated teaching – so she went to law school. The day after graduation, she moved to Alaska where she has vowed to practice until she gets it right.
Visit her at: www.keenanpowellauthor.com.