Hey Rick, I don't normally start my interviews out like this and I know you are not supposed to kiss and tell but WOW!! You'll have to tell how this came about. Enquiring minds just have to know!! :D

I knew that stolen kiss would come back to haunt me! ;) This is a picture of me and an exotic Hawaiian babe I met at Sea Life Park on Oahu on the last day of our Hawaiian vacation last month. The dolphins were very friendly--as you can see.

We had a terrific time in the islands and stretched our trip out as long as we could--which may have been a little longer than we should have. I was in federal court for a big trial about 36 hours after that picture was taken, and the first few days back were rough! The case settled favorably halfway through trial, though, so all's well that end's well.

How did you start your writing career? Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

When our kids were younger, I was the designated storyteller during long drives. Most of the stories were forgotten five minutes after we got where we were going. But one time my wife turned to me and said, “You really should write that one down.” I did, and it became my first published book, The Case of the Autumn Rose.

What inspires you to write? What inspires you while you are writing?

God inspires me to write. Deadlines inspire me while I’m writing. ;)

Is being an author everything you though it would be? If not, what has been surprising for you?

The main surprise for me was the economic realities of book publishing. I had this vague idea that once an author has publishes a few books, he or she can retire and live on the royalties. That’s not quite how it works. :D

What were your favorite books growing up? What made them so special to you?

I loved adventure stories, especially if they took me to a whole new world. I read everything from classics like Treasure Island and King Solomon’s Mines to stacks of pulp science fiction novels from the library used book sale. By the time I graduated from high school, I think I’d read through the entire Adventure and Science Fiction/Fantasy sections at the local library.

What was the working title for Blood Brothers? What research did you do for that book? Were you surprised by any of the things you found out? If so, please share.

We struggled a lot with the title for this one. It had two different working titles, Human Trials and Berserker’s Judgment, and the editors and I kicked around about a dozen other alternatives before we finally settled on Blood Brothers at the very end of the editorial process.

In terms of research, I’d already spent years inside Chicago courtrooms and Norwegian cities and forests, so a lot of my research was done before I started. The two areas that I didn’t know much about were the pharmaceuticals industry and neurochemistry. Fortunately, I found some very helpful experts who told me all sorts of fascinating things about how drugs are developed and what they can do to your brain—for good and for bad.

I've heard authors say that their characters came alive and took them place they didn't expect to go. Did that happen to you in any of the books you've written? If this hasn't been your experience what has surprised you when writing your books?

Sure, it happens all the time. Characters will fall in love when I expected them to just be friends, or they’ll get themselves killed when I only intended a flesh wound.

Sometimes they even show up in my books entirely uninvited. Sergei Spassky (the lanky detective in Dead Man’s Rule and Blood Brothers) did that and wound up being one of my favorite characters. I occasionally feel a little bad about the things that happen to him, but it’s really his fault. If he didn’t want to put himself in harm’s way, he should have walked into a gentle romance or something, not one of my books.

How did you come up with the idea for the book Dead Man’s Rule? What was the working title for this book?

I actually had the title before I had a story to go with it. The Dead Man’s Rule is a real legal rule, and I’d wondered why no one had ever used it for a book title. So when my publisher asked me to write a legal thriller, I knew exactly what to call it.

Unfortunately, the Dead Man’s Rule usually only becomes important in boring cases. So I had to find a way to work the rule into something exciting, and I wound up with the story of a fight over a long-forgotten safe deposit box. And what the box contains is actually a little more exciting than I originally intended. The thing in the box is probably real, and it still occasionally keeps me up at night.

How did you come up with the story of "Blood Brothers"? That was one scary story, when you think about the pharmaceutical companies taking over the world - we are almost there today - they are neck and neck with insurance companies.

The inspiration for Blood Brothers actually came from several different sources: intense courtroom battles I’ve seen between men who used to be close friends and business partners, Norse sagas from the very beginning of written history in Scandinavia, a couple of experimental drug trials that went badly wrong, and Christ’s admonition that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Is it hard for you to come up with the names for your characters? Could you describe the process in which you come up with the final names for the characters in your books?

I generally start by trying for realism. Having an Irish name helps judges get elected in Chicago, for example, so I often give Chicago state court judges Irish names. For central characters, I also sometimes give them names that have a connection to the story. For instance, the warring brothers in Blood Brothers are named Bjornsen, which loosely means “sons of the bear” in archaic Norwegian. That’s significant because . . . well, read the book and find out.

How much of you is in your stories? Please explain. If you are in the stories, does that make the story easier or harder to tell?

Well, I almost never intentionally pattern characters after myself, but a lot of incidents in them are based on stories I’ve lived through.

Is your spouse a hands-on or hands-off kind of partner with your writing? Does she like to get involved in your work? Please explain.

My wife, Anette, is definitely hands-on, which has been a real help to me. We brainstorm together about story ideas, work through plot problems together, and go through editor comments together. The only part we don’t do as a team is the actual writing.


1. If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money); to do anything you wanted to do, what would that be? Why?

I’d blow it all traveling, starting with one of those $20 million visits to a space station. I love seeing new places, especially if there’s a great view involved.

2. What was the most amazing place that you have visited so far? What made it so special?

(Such amazing shots you have taken on your adventures - thanks for sharing these Rick)

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to visit a lot of breathtaking places: spectacular mountaintops, towering redwood forests, ancient castles, magnificent cathedrals, and so on. The place that’s most special to me, though, is the old biology lab at St. Olaf College. That’s where I met the love of my life over a couple of dead fish.

3. If you had to be a super hero for a while who would you be and why?(you could also make up – mix and match super powers to be the hero you have always wanted to be).

That’s easy: Iron Man. All the other super heroes think their powers are a burden and wish they “could just lead a normal life.” Not Iron Man. He wants to do what he does, and he enjoys himself while he’s doing it. And when he takes off his suit, he’s Tony Stark, a billionaire with great lines, great cars, and the coolest house I’ve ever seen.

4.If you had a time machine and could go back in time to any past event in history, where would you go and why? (This could also apply to a historic event, or a time in your own life…)

I’d love to be able to witness the first Easter. There’s no place and time I’d rather be than standing outside the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea early on Sunday morning, watching the angels roll back the sealing stone, and then seeing Jesus step out into the dawn.

5. If you had to pick a reality show to be on, which one would you be on and why?

Actually, I know virtually nothing about reality shows, but I’m guessing that I should pick one that fits my skill set. Are there any shows where contestants sue evil corporations? How about shows that involve making grim-faced small children smile for family pictures?

(With these family shots I think that your well on your way to the reality show of your dreams. But these kids look HAPPY - think you'll have to work on the grim-faced thing :D)

6.Imagine you have $200.00 in your pocket, and you MUST spend it right away. What would you buy? And why? (Please be specific).

Right away? Can I wait to answer this question until I’m near the docks in Bergen, Norway and the shrimp and crab boats have just come in? There’s nothing in the world quite like fresh Atlantic shrimp and king crab.

7.Do you have a favorite board game that you played as a child? If so what is it? If not what games did you like to play as a kid? Do explain.

Clue. I loved solving mysteries and catching bad guys—which, come to think of it, is basically what I do in my day job now (I’m a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice).

8.If you could interview or hang out with two people in the history of the world for a day who would you pick and why?

C.S. Lewis and Abraham Lincoln. I look up to Lewis more than any other writer and Lincoln more than any other lawyer.

9.If you found a magic lamp and a genie inside was going to grant you 3 wishes; what would you wish for and why?

1. For every man, woman and child on Earth to hear the Gospel.

2. World peace.

3. The head of hair I had at 18.

10.Given our current gas price wars and the fact we are getting less mileage for our money - what alternative resource would you like to see available for our use? (You can use some of the alternatives below or make up your own - after all you are the author here Ha!)

I was a big Star Trek fan growing up and always wanted to try the transporter. Just don’t make me a red-shirted ensign on an away team; they never seem to make it back to the Enterprise.


Thanks for having me on your blog, Nora! And thanks to all the readers who stopped by and read far enough down to see this!

Love this picture of you and Tosca Lee - she was at my book club a few months ago. THANK YOU Rick for hanging out with us today and letting us get to know you better. I'm excited about your visit to Atlanta and to book club next year. All the best to you in your writing adventure God has you on.


Nora :D


  1. Great interview! Loved the pictures. Just noticed that Dolphins close their eyes when they kiss...hmmm

  2. Looked like one great vacation! I enjoy books by attorneys, as they know the ins and outs of the courtroom. Look forward to reading these books.

  3. Great questions Nora. I think I'll have to add Blood Brothers to my list for book club. Thanks for sharing.

  4. great interview, sounds like an author my husband would love.

  5. I love thrillers like this! Enjoyed the interview!!! Thanks Nora & Rick.

    Gail Mundy

  6. Thanks for your comments, everyone! And thanks, Nora, for the great questions.

    One clarification: The spectacular shots of Norway and Hawaii were taken by my lovely and multi-talented wife, not me.