Flurries Unlimited (FU) was lucky enough to chat with Dale Manolakas (DM), author of several fabulous legal thrillers about her work, Ray Bradbury and acting, amongst other things. This is what we discussed:
FU: You have an impressive education as well as extensive legal experience. It's obvious why you write legal thrillers, but what led you away from the legal profession to writing fiction?
DM: I still do legal work (once a lawyer always a lawyer), but I write fiction and especially legal thrillers because I can expose the inner workings, injustices, and inequities in the justice system. My novels are based on actual legal cases, scenarios, and lives. I create plots and characters to engage my readership. I do extensive research and through many multi-faceted colorful characters, I enjoy immersing my readers in worlds they would otherwise never know. And I always choose to write about issues that are or have been significant to me.
FU: According to your bio, Ray Bradbury's friendship was a major influence over your writing. Can you explain a little how this friendship came about and how he mentored you?
DM: I met Ray Bradbury through a dear friend who like Ray has now sadly passed. I am a SAG-AFTRA member and also belong to Actors Equity for stage actors. I performed in many of Ray’s plays over the years. He came to rehearsals and to see the performances. At intermission, he talked about his life, the inspiration for his works, and his great love of the theatre. He said he did not choose to pursue acting because of the politics involved in that career choice. Instead, he wrote. I spent many hours at his home in Cheviot Hills just talking about everyday things like pets, gardens, and raccoons. Of course, we also discussed the theatre. And we reviewed our writing projects together with enthusiasm. He mentored me with humor and skill. His book Zen in the Art of Writing is a bible to me.
FU: You've written so four books so far. Which is your favourite and why?
DM: My favorite is my latest legal thriller The Gun Trial in which a Yale student’s death triggers a treacherous and deadly legal fight for justice. Somehow it seems the last book I have written is always my favorite.
However, the choice is hard because all my books are so different and I love each one for its uniqueness. Lethal Lawyers depicts big firm legal practice warts and all. It should be required reading for law students with that career goal who think passing the bar is their last hurdle because it is actually the first and the easiest. Hollywood Plays for Keeps uniquely explores the small theatre acting world in Hollywood which took the place of the studio system training ground of earlier years for actors aspiring to film careers. I think all aspiring actors should read it too. Death Sets Sail looks at the world of transatlantic cruises. It skewers corporate cruise lines and pokes fun at mystery writers trying to solve actual crimes as bodies accumulate during an awards voyage.
FU: Even though characters drive the story, they say that every character has some of the author in him/her. Which of your characters is most like you? In what way?
DM: In order to write any character I have to become that person. Thus, every character I write is me during the creative process. I observe, judge, decide, and create the emotions of everyone in my books. Of necessity there is a piece of me in each of my characters, and I would hate to offend any of them by naming one as my favorite.
FU: So what is on the horizon? What are your new projects? When is your next new release?
DM: My new release The Gun Trial is on Amazon preorder now and will be out on April 20, 2016. After that I have a draft of The Divorce Lawyer ready to finalize and edit. Hopefully, it will launch in 2016 too. It is based on an actual case and is for mature audiences. It proves that someone who embodies pure evil can put on a suit, practice law, be a pillar of the community, and hide his crimes for years. After that, I have already planned my next project, a legal thriller centering on the United States Supreme Court.
FU: Sounds intriguing! Thank you so much for chatting with us.