Arts and Entertainment

Bellevue author uses a Pacific Northwest backdrop in his bestselling legal thrillers

Being a lawyer isn't typically thought of as a side job. But Bellevue resident Robert Dugoni has worked hard to financially rely less on his law practice and more on his real passion: writing novels. This New York Times bestselling author has written "The Jury Master," "Damage Control," "Wrongful Death," "Bodily Harm," and "Murder One," just released Tuesday.

The Reporter sat down with Dugoni to talk about his legal thrillers - and more.

REPORTER: Many Bellevue and Seattle readers love your books because they take place in the Pacific Northwest. Tell me about writing about where you live.

RD: When I started writing, I was living in San Francisco which is where the setting was then. My wife is from Seattle, so when we moved to this area, (my lead character) David Slaone moved, too. Writing about where you live gives it authenticity. The Tin Room in Burien is where David Sloane hangs out. McCormick and Schmick's, downtown Seattle and Bellevue have shown up. I love getting emails from people saying they're coming to visit this area after reading my books.

REPORTER: Why do you like to write about injustice?

RD: I think it's important to explore issues that are important in society. It touches people on a personal level. That's when you get statements, "I couldn't put your book down." Think of the book  "To Kill a Mockingbird" or the movie "Philadelphia." When the situation becomes so horribly wrong, we love to root for the good guys.

REPORTER: How does your law background show up in your novels?

RD: I get a lot of compliments on my courtroom scenes, but I fight writing them tooth-and-nail. It's not that I don't want to write them, but trials are often extremely boring, very systematic and rule-oriented. You don't get Perry Mason moments in the courtroom. It probably hurts a little that I don't have more courtroom scenes in my book. I'm always asked by my editor to put more in.

In my book, 'Murder One,' Sloane is asked to defend a woman charged with murder in a criminal case. I like to challenge myself to do something I've never done. I went down and sat down on a capital murder case for three months getting to know detectives, the prosecutor, etc.

Being a lawyer myself, when I sit in on a trial, I understand what the lawyer is attempting to do with a question. I can understand the tactics of what's going on, which is why my courtroom scenes have a very real ring to them. But I also just have a good ear for dialogue.

REPORTER: Tell me about the moment you learned you were a New York Times bestseller.

RD: My agent called me while I was in my office in Bellevue on Main Street. He said, 'Bob, this is the kind of news every agent wants to give their author."

Learn more about Robert Dugoni's creative process in the July Issue of The Bellevue Scene magazine, which comes with The Bellevue Reporter June 24.

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