I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing LA native Pamela Samuels Young about her latest mystery novel Lawful Deception, Writing, Life, and Anybody’s Daughter sequel. So sit back and enjoy the interview and please share & comment.
Cleavester: Hi Pamela, How are you doing? Congrats on the release of your 7th novel Lawful Deception.
Pamela Samuels Young: Thanks!
Cleavester: Tell the readers about Lawful Deception?
Pamela Samuels Young: In Lawful Deception, one of the primary characters, Bliss Fenton, won’t be winning any awards for Mother of the Year. That’s because she’s a bit on the scandalous side. She makes her living by extorting wealthy men solely for the hefty child support she can collect.
But Bliss’ greed ultimately goes too far when she takes on Fletcher McClain. The handsome record industry mogul insists there’s no way he’s the father of Bliss’ third child. When the results of the paternity test are finally revealed, however, Fletcher is stunned and angry, claiming there’s no way the kid could be his. He hires Vernetta Henderson to sue Bliss for fraud.
Bliss retains Girlie Cortez, an unscrupulous lawyer from Vernetta’s past, to represent her. Both women are determined to win for their clients, but they also have a personal score to settle. As the lawsuit heats up, it quickly turns from merely contentious to downright deadly.
Cleavester: Why did you decide to bring attorney Vernetta Henderson back for a fifth novel?
Pamela Samuels Young: Right now, I can’t see abandoning Vernetta ever! She was my first lawyer-heroine and I really enjoy the series. I took a break to write the Dre Thomas Series (Buying Time and Anybody’s Daughter), but I never intended to abandon my first series.
Vernetta has represented a socialite, taken on a sexual harassment case, Down Low/Aids, Discrimination case, and child support case. How do you decide what theme/subject to cover for each of the Vernetta Henderson Series novels?
Pamela Samuels Young: Nine times out of ten, the idea stems from an article I read. With Lawful Deception, my boyfriend actually emailed me an article. When I read the headline, I thought it was a joke and deleted it. But when he called and explained what the story was about, I instantly knew it would make a great legal thriller. In fact, he will tell you that I instantly hung up the phone and started outlining the book.
Cleavester: What is the inspiration for the Vernetta Henderson Series? Is it inspired by any real life people?
Pamela Samuels Young: Honestly, I think I was writing about myself. LOL! Vernetta worked at a large corporate law firm, like I did. She was married to an electrician, while I was formerly married to a plumber and she grew up in Compton, like I did. I guess I wanted to see myself solving the kind of legal cases I never get to solve in real life!
Cleavester: What type of research did you do for the Vernetta Henderson Series?
Pamela Samuels Young: There’s always a great deal of research for all of my books, particularly if I’m writing outside of my area of legal expertise, which is employment law. I think I did the most research for Murder on the Down Low and Anybody’s Daughter. That includes interviewing people, reading books and articles and even watching YouTube videos.
Cleavester: Who would you cast in the Vernetta Henderson TV Series? Why?
Pamela Samuels Young: Wow, I would love that choice. Let’s see my top two would be Gabrielle Union and Sanaa Lathan.
Cleavester: Is this the end of the series or can we expect more in the future?
Pamela Samuels Young: You can definitely expect more! Not exactly sure, what battle Vernetta will tackle next, but I have a file full of “interesting” cases. So if something I run across in the news or on the internet doesn’t pique my interest, I go to my secret file.
Cleavester: Please give the readers a brief bio about you the person and writer?
Pamela Samuels Young: I’m a practicing lawyer in addition to being a novelist. I was an avid reader as a kid, but it never crossed my mind that I could actually write a novel. My first career was as a television news writer. During all of that time, I never thought about writing fiction. The same goes for law. As I neared completion of my undergraduate degree, I thought about law, but was way too intimidated to do anything except think about it. It was several years later that I finally decided to pursue that dream. I turned thirty, my first year of law school. It took that long for me to gather the confidence to give law school a try. I find it interesting that both journalism and law require strong writing skills. They were the perfect precursors to what I hope is my third and final career, a novelist.
I’m also a native of Compton, California (Straight outta Compton for real!), which I’m very proud of. When I mention my hometown, people automatically assume that I dodged bullets on the way to school every day. But it was nothing like that. I had two strong, hard-working parents, who still live in Compton today. The foundation they laid – faith in God, hard work and education – is responsible for who I am and everything I have achieved.
Cleavester: At what age did you discover that you want to be an author?
Pamela Samuels Young: I was in my late thirties when I decided I wanted to write a novel. When I finished law school, reading legal thrillers was how I relaxed. But I never saw African-American or women attorneys depicted in the mainstream fiction I read, so I decided to try writing a legal thriller myself. I was working full-time at a large corporate law firm in L.A. and didn’t have any spare time. Still, I started getting up at four in the morning to write before going to the office. I wrote on the weekends, in the airport and in my hotel room when I traveled. I even devoted my vacation time to writing. Without question, I discovered my passion.
Cleavester: How long did it take you to write your first book?
Pamela Samuels Young: It took me three long years to write Every Reasonable Doubt, my first novel. In the beginning, I struggled a lot with the writing process. I didn’t prepare an outline or even have the storyline worked out in my head. I had some ideas for the characters and the setting and I just sat down and started writing. I would spend weeks on a single chapter, rewriting what I had written during the previous session. Later, I ended up tossing out several chapters that I spent weeks working on.
Now, I have a completed outline before I begin writing a single word. It can take me a couple of months to complete an outline. Then, I sit down and write my story from beginning to end without doing any major revising. My goal at the start of a new novel is to produce a decent first draft with a solid, engaging plot. Once I’m satisfied with the plot, then I go back and spend as much time as it takes to polish the writing—anywhere from three to six months. This process helped me cut my writing time tremendously. Now, I can complete a novel in a year or less.
Cleavester: Take us on a journey from beginning to end of you writing Lawful Deception?
Pamela Samuels Young: Once I read the article about a similar case, I inserted Vernetta as the lawyer, made up a college classmate who was being sued for paternity and the rest just rolled. I had Bliss’ personality laid out very early. I like having a character you love to hate. And, of course, I had to throw Special in the mix. I love giving her interesting plot lines. I spent about two months outlining and five months writing, then submitted it to friends and book club members for feedback and revised some more before finally putting it to bed.
Cleavester: What genres do you enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
Pamela Samuels Young: I read almost exclusively mystery, in particular, legal thrillers. I’m a big fan of John Grisham, Tami Hoag and Greg Iles. I avoid horror and paranormal with a passion and will occasionally read chic lit and erotica. I also love non-fiction, primarily inspiration and self-help books.
Cleavester: If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be and why?
Pamela Samuels Young: That’s easy, the Bible. It has everything you need—it’s entertaining, educational and full of inspiration.
Cleavester: What book hasn’t been written that you’d like to read?
Pamela Samuels Young: Wow! What a question. I’d like to read (and write) an inspirational book for women, encouraging them to pursue their dreams at any age. But I want it to be full of useable, practical tips for getting the job done.
Cleavester: What do you plan to write next?
Pamela Samuels Young: I’m currently outlining the next book in the Dre Thomas series. It’s called Abuse of Discretion and will pick up where Anybody’s Daughter left off. Dre isn’t happy with the punishment the Shepherd received and wants to further avenge what the Shepherd did to his niece, Brianna. But before he can focus on that, his best friend’s son stumbles into some major legal trouble and he leans on Angela for help. Will Angela and Dre finally get together in Abuse of Discretion? You’ll have to wait to find out.
Cleavester: Thank you for doing this interview, and I wish you all of the best!