Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Paul Levine - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Paul Levine. He is the award-winning, bestselling Mystery & Thrillers author of the JAKE LASSITER and SOLOMON vs. LORD series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Fiction, Crime

Website: Paul Levine
Author's Blog: Paul Levine
Twitter: @Jake_Lassiter
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Google+: Check Out Google+
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Author Description:
PAUL LEVINE worked as a newspaper reporter, a law professor and a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. Obviously, he cannot hold a job. Paul claims that writing fiction comes naturally: he told whoppers for many years in his legal briefs. His books have been translated into 23 languages, none of which he can read.

He has won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for an Edgar, a Macavity, the International Thriller Writers Award, and the James Thurber Humor Prize. More info at

What's new? "Lassiter" and "Last Chance Lassiter" are Paul's latest entries on Kindle. "To Speak for the Dead" continues its bestseller status more than 20 years after its hardcover publication.

Writing in USA TODAY, Larry King called the Lassiter series, "Mystery writing at its very, very best."

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: State vs. Lassiter. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I’m just finishing the first draft of the 10th Jake Lassiter novel. This one has a couple surprises by the name of Solomon & Lord. Yes, it’s a “crossover,” as they say in television. Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, those mismatched lovers and law partners, are featured in the new Lassiter. The story is set against the backdrop of a real case: federal prosecutions against Russian mobsters and the Bar girls who worked for them in “Champagne Clubs” on South Beach. The girls get male tourists drunk and rack up thousands of dollars on their credit cards for watery Champagne. Steve Solomon, always a bit reckless, gets charged with murder after a shooting at Club Anastasia….and Jake Lassiter must defend him. It doesn’t help that the two lawyers despise each other. Drama, conflict…and fun ensue.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that? How much has it changed your book launch process?

I’ve used Facebook a lot, both a personal page and my author page. To tell the truth, I don’t think you sell a lot of books on social media. But it’s fun for readers (and the author) to communicate. I only do about two newsletters a year. I don’t like to litter people’s in-boxes when there’s nothing new to say. I do have fun writing my blog, which gets a lot of email. Again, it’s not to sell books. It’s to enjoy communicating with readers.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I’ve used several different artists over the course of 19 books. Also, with the backlist, I had the original Random House/Simon & Schuster/William Morrow covers, which taught me what I liked and didn’t like. (I didn’t like a lot! But I loved the “suicidal Lady Justice” image from the “Solomon vs. Lord” series, so I found the artist in Pennsylvania and paid him in order to use the image on the e-book when I got the rights back. Now, with a new book, I give the artist my idea and he/she makes it better.

Several of you novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience?

My success in audio has been rather modest. I’m not sure there’s any relationship between ebook, paperback and audio sales.

You have written a novella titled Last Chance Lassiter and you have published THE ROAD TO HELL (4 short stories in a bundle). Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s going to be one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?

I’m giving away “The Road to Hell” as a sort of introduction to my work. Same with “Solomon and Lord Sink or Swim.” They’re both free ebooks on Amazon, and they’ve led readers to my regular ebooks and paperbacks that are very reasonably priced, too. In terms of future work, I don’t envision more short stories. Novels are my format of choice.

I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a couple novel collections called Partners in Crime and Die Laughing. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other authors? How did you put something like that together?

The idea was for each of us to pick up some of the other writers’ readers. I’d say the results are okay, but not earth shattering. What happens is that we all know each other and someone says, “Let’s do a bundle,” sort of like saying, “Let’s have a party.” And we do it.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Other than those short story samplers, giving books away for free is a losing proposition. My opinion. Not shared by everyone, of course. But I believe that creating hundreds of thousands of readers who expect books to be free is very damaging to the sale of books in the long run. I am not opposed to low-price ebooks, and that includes the occasional sale at 99 cents. But books must have some monetary value in order for the writer to survive.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and unique information to your readers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Well, now that I’m deep into the next novel, my blog has suffered. When I’m caught up blogging, the novel suffers. Again, I blog for fun. Yes, I’d like to pop up on search engines with readers looking for “legal thrillers” or “courtroom mysteries,” but on a time/benefit analysis, I’m not sure blogging is great marketing.

What is the objective for your newsletter? Do you try to build a list of readers? Do you see a carryover to the sales of your novels?

It’s hard to do an analysis of readers of the newsletter becoming readers of the books (or repeat readers). But the newsletter is a direct form of reaching people who’ve opted in and have asked to be informed when a new book is coming out.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

Reaching back to my days with the Big Six publishers (or however many there are now!), I believe in getting advance review copies to reviewers. These days, that includes more bloggers and less newspaper reviewers for reasons that all your readers understand. To do that, I hire a publicist. Of course, readers’ reviews on Amazon are highly appreciated. I think they reach a wider audience than conventional reviews and, when taken together, have great credibility.

Author's Book List
STATE vs. LASSITER - Jake Lassiter Book 10
Jake’s law practice is booming...

He’s crazy about the new woman in his life...

His delinquent nephew Kip is getting A’s in school...

What can go wrong? about a charge of first degree murder?

When money goes missing from client accounts, Jake confronts his banker, Pamela Baylins...who also happens to be his lover. She accuses Jake of skimming client funds; he accuses her of dipping into the till. She threatens to report him to the State Attorney...and within hours is killed. All the evidence points to Jake, who is charged with murder. Is this the end of the linebacker-turned-lawyer?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
LAST CHANCE LASSITER - Jake Lassiter Book 9
This time, the linebacker-turned-lawyer faces overwhelming odds. Lassiter represents Cadillac Johnson, an aging rhythm and blues musician who claims his greatest song was stolen by a top-of-the-charts hip-hop artist.

Lassiter's personal life is in chaos. He loses his job at a deep-carpet law firm and moves to a dumpy office in a Miami Beach parking garage. Then his lawyer-girlfriend, the ambitious Kim Coates, dumps him for not being "partnership material." Not only that, he faces disbarment after punching out his own client.

Only a few years out of law school, Lassiter is already developing his iconoclastic rules. "I will live by no code but my own." This time, that code could leave him disbarred or bankrupt...or worse.

Author's Note: A 25,000 word novella, "Last Chance Lassiter" is the brand-new prequel to "To Speak for the Dead."

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
LASSITER - Jake Lassiter
Eighteen years ago, Jake Lassiter crossed paths with a teenage runaway who disappeared into South Florida’s sex trade. Now he traces her steps and runs head-on into a conspiracy of Miami’s rich and powerful who would do anything to keep the past as silent as the grave. In this tale of redemption and revenge, Edgar-nominated author Paul Levine delivers his most powerful thriller yet.

Jake Lassiter, second-string linebacker turned low-rent lawyer, is cynical about the law, but if you hire him, he’ll take a punch for you . . . and maybe a swing at the prosecutor, too.

Amy Larkin—beautiful, angry, and mysterious—accuses Lassiter of involvement in the disappearance of her sister eighteen years earlier. What does Lassiter know about Krista Larkin, the runaway teen turned porn actress? More than he’s saying.

Seeking to atone for his own past, Lassiter follows the cold trail of the missing Krista and butts head with the powerful men who also knew her: a former porn king turned philanthropist, a slick Cuban-born prosecutor, and an aging mobster.

The evidence leads to a long-ago night of kinky sex, designer drugs—and possible murder. But before Lassiter can nail the truth, a gun goes off, a suspect falls dead, and Lassiter has a murder trial to defend. Will the verdict disclose what happened to Krista? The answer, buried under years of deceit and corruption, is revealed in an explosive courtroom finale, proving that rough justice is better than no justice at all.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
FLESH & BONES - Jake Lassiter Book 7
The next thing Jake Lassiter knows, the woman pumps three bullets into the man on the next barstool.

Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer, has a new client.

She's stunning model Chrissy Bernhardt, and the dead man is her wealthy father. The defense? Chrissy claims that she's recently recovered repressed memories of having been sexually abused by her father. Jake wants to believe her but suspects that the memories were either implanted by a shady psychiatrist or fabricated by Chrissy herself. Complicating the situation, Jake falls for his client, clouding his judgment. Is she an anguished victim or a cold-blooded killer? And what about her brother, who stands to inherit a fortune if Chrissy goes to prison? Jake wades into a quagmire of dirty water deals, big money, and family corruption, all leading to an explosive finale.

Order the Book From: Amazon
FOOL ME TWICE - Jake Lassiter Book 6

A witness is dead and linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter is the prime suspect. If he doesn't find the killer, he'll face a murder charge. A bloody trail of evidence leads to an abandoned silver mine under the Colorado ski slopes and an explosive finale.

If you enjoy John Grisham, Harlan Coben, Carl Hiaasen, and James Patterson, you'll love "Fool Me Twice" from Paul Levine, winner of the John D. MacDonald fiction award. Levine has also been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber prizes. A former trial lawyer, he wrote more than 20 episodes of the CBS military drama "JAG."

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
RIPTIDE - Jake Lassiter Book 5
Jake Lassiter chases a beautiful woman and stolen bonds from Miami to Maui, where in an explosive finale, he learns lessons never taught on the football field or in the courtroom.

Order the Book From: Amazon
MORTAL SIN - Jake Lassiter Book 4
Jake Lassiter has a dangerous conflict of interest. He’s sleeping with Nicky Florio’s wife...and defending the mob-connected millionaire in court. Florio has hatched a scheme deep in the Florida Everglades that oozes corruption, blood, and money. One false move, and Jake will be gator bait.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
FALSE DAWN - Jake Lassiter Book 3
Miami lawyer Jake Lassiter has plenty of clients who lie, but usually they deny their guilt. When Francisco Crespo admits killing a fellow warehouse worker with a forklift – speared like an olive on a toothpick – Jake is suspicious and won’t take “guilty” for an answer. Determined to find the truth, Jake follows a trail of priceless FabergĂ© eggs to an international theft ring involving the CIA, Fidel Castro, and the Russian government. Through twisted revelations, deadly double crosses, and bizarre murders, Jake heads to Havana where he discovers that nothing is as it seems.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
NIGHT VISION - Jake Lassiter Book 2
Linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter is appointed a special prosecutor when women in a sex-charged Internet chat room are targeted by a serial killer. Enlisting a brilliant female psychiatrist and assisted by retired coroner Doc Charlie Riggs, Lassiter wades into a maze of lies and corruption to uncover the murderer. Soon, Lassiter finds himself on the trail of a psychopath from the mean streets of Miami to an insane asylum in London and the very streets where Jack the Ripper once stalked his prey.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
TO SPEAK FOR THE DEAD - Jake Lassiter Book 1
A doctor in love with his patient's wife...
A fatal mistake during surgery...
Accident? Malpractice? Or murder?

Defending a surgeon in a malpractice case, Jake Lassiter begins to suspect that his client is innocent of negligence...but guilty of murder. Add a sexy widow, a deadly drug, and a grave robbery to the stew, and you have the recipe for Miami's trial of the century.

"To Speak for the Dead" introduced the world to Jake Lassiter, the linebacker-turned-lawyer with a hard bark and a tender heart. An international bestseller, Paul Levine's debut novel was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best mysteries of the year.

Order the Book From: Amazon
HABEAS PORPOISE - Solomon vs. Lord
Victoria Lord...for the prosecution.
Steve Solomon...for the defense.
And an ecoterrorist charged with murder.

The love-hate relationship of Solomon & Lord continues. Sure, opposites attract, but they argue, too!

This time, it all starts with the kidnaping of a pair of trained dolphins from Miami’s Cetacean Park. When one of the ecoterrorists behind the raid turns up dead, his partner in eco-crime is charged with homicide, even though he didn’t pull the trigger. It’s called “felony murder,” and Solomon thinks it’s a bum rap. What he doesn’t count on is his lover and law partner Victoria Lord being named a special prosecutor.

Conflicts-of-interest abound, and Steve is up to his old tricks. At least, the mismatched legal duo agree on something…each one vows to win the case!

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
KILL ALL THE LAWYERS - Solomon vs. Lord Book 3
It all starts with a 300-pound marlin stuck in Solomon’s front door. Prank? Threat? High tide? Even by South Florida standards, this registers as weird.

Soon, celebrity shrink “Dr. Bill” shows up. Just out of prison, he blames Solomon for his manslaughter conviction involving the death of a patient. Victoria Lord is used to her law partner and lover cutting corners to win. But Dr. Bill claims Solomon tried to lose!

As a lawyer who always follows the rules, Victoria is appalled by one of Solomon’s Laws: “Thou shalt not screw thy own client...unless thou hast a damn good reason.”

With Dr. Bill on the loose, neither Steve nor Victoria are safe, and their relationship – both personal and professional – is on the rocks. Will this be the end of Solomon and Lord?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
THE DEEP BLUE ALIBI - Solomon vs.Lord Series Book 2
Florida’s most mismatched law partners are back in this Edgar-nominated tale. A Coral Gables blueblood, Victoria Lord plays by the rules. A Coconut Grove beach bum, Steve Solomon makes up his own, starting with: “When the law doesn’t work, work the law.” The action starts when a boat runs aground in the Florida Keys. Aboard are a thousand hundred-dollar bills and two men, one shot by a speargun. The other man is Victoria’s “Uncle Grif,” who desperately needs a lawyer...or two. But Grif, charged with murder, is a lawyer’s worst nightmare, a client who keeps secrets. Just what is he planning in the Florida Keys and why would he kill an investigator for the Environmental Protection Agency? The tale roams from the streets of Miami to a waterfront nudist colony to a Key West courtroom with Solomon and Lord – squabblers extraordinaire – fighting all the way. Will they succeed in defending Grif? Will they learn the truth? And will they end the case as partners and lovers or enemies and litigants?

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A down-and-out L.A. lawyer with nothing to lose...
A beautiful Mexican woman who disappears crossing the border... And the powerful and corrupt rancher who would destroy them both.

Haunted by a personal tragedy and wanted by the cops, lawyer Jimmy (Royal) Payne wants to skip town. That's when he crosses paths with 12-year-old Tino Perez, newly arrived from Mexico, looking for his mother Marisol, who went missing after crossing the border with a vicious coyote.

Before long, the cynical lawyer and the savvy kid are bonding and tracing Marisol's path, battling predators on both sides of the border. Most dangerous of all is Simeon Rutledge, a wealthy rancher, and the biggest employer of farm workers in California. Just why is Rutledge willing to kill Payne to keep Marisol under wraps?

It's a story of human trafficking and sex slavery, a mother's love for her son, and the redemption of a man intent on escaping his past. From the shadows of migrant stash houses to the fertile fields of the San Joaquin Valley, 'Illegal' delivers a searing mix of live-wire prose, shattering violence, and rich characterization. Set against larger social issues, this is a masterful tale from one of the most skillful practitioners of the modern thriller.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Victoria Lord follows all the rules...
Steve Solomon makes up his own...
When they defend an accused murderer, they’ll either end up in ruin, in jail...or in bed.

Steve Solomon is the sharpest lawyer ever to barely graduate from Key West School of Law. Victoria Lord is fresh from Yale, toiling for an ambitious D.A., before Solomon gets her fired. And Katrina Barksdale is a sexy former figure skater charged with killing her very wealthy, very kinky husband. With all three tangled in Miami’s steamiest trial of the century, the case is sure to make sparks fly, headlines scream – and opposites attract.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - KOBO
A Jetliner Crashes in the Everglades.
A Billion-Dollar Lawsuit: Negligence or Terrorism?
The Defense: Kill Anyone, Even a Supreme Court Justice, to Win the Case.

Supreme Court Justice Sam Truitt takes the bench with high ideals, lofty intentions...and a troubled marriage. Lisa Fremont, his stunning and brilliant law clerk, has a dark secret in her past. If Lisa doesn't get Truitt's vote in multi-million dollar case involving a catastrophic airplane crash, she'll be killed. The Justice, too. IMPACT is a tale of seduction and betrayal, of passion and greed. Truitt, who has always followed the rules, and Lisa, who never has, join together to battle those who live by no law at all.

Order the Book From: Amazon
A Nuclear Missile...
A Band of Terrorists...
And Only Two People Who Can Prevent Armageddon.

When a doomsday cult captures an U.S. Air Force missile base, it's up to a lowly sergeant and a female psychiatrist to prevent a nuclear holocaust. That's the setup of BALLISTIC, the chilling new thriller from the Edgar-nominated author.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Bobby Gallagher has it all...a great job, a loving wife, and an adoring son... Then he's fired; his wife divorces him; and he goes bankrupt... Now, to reclaim his life, all he has to do is rig the Super Bowl, win a huge bet, and avoid getting killed.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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