I'm thrilled to welcome author James LePore, who has graciously written a guest post piece about his evolutionary process from lawyer to author! Jim is an absolute professional gentleman and it was my pleasure to work with him. (Okay...I'm a little bit of a fan too!) If you're on the fence about your next read, hop off and read the book I did that made me run out and purchase his entire catalog: "The World I Never Made" Review~ wow!
“Growth comes by shocks. We cannot part with our friends. We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in.” Emerson.
When I was fourteen I found a battered paperback edition of The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins on my mother’s dresser. Swept away by the sheer adventure of it, I began reading two or three novels a week, most of them purchased off the rotating rack at the corner candy store. There was magic to be found in fiction, just what kind of magic and how it worked I wasn’t sure, but I was hooked on it nevertheless. I read whatever looked interesting, including things like Johnny Got His Gun, Catch 22, Exodus, Alas Babylon, On The Beach, Hawaii and much more, both good and bad, sublime and ridiculous.
In 1982 my father died after a twelve month struggle with lung cancer. I was practicing law then, but still reading novels at pretty much the same rate, although by then I had discovered stores where only books were sold. My response to my father’s sickness and death was to write a novel, which I titled That Archangels May Come In. The experience was cathartic of course, but the interesting thing to me, looking back, was that I chose to tell a long story (about a fictional young lawyer losing his father to lung cancer) as the means of that catharsis. Why write a novel? Because, I realized, I wanted the magic of a story to heal me, to take me from the world where dads die a painful, drawn-out death, to the world where sons go on living.
Archangels was badly written. One professional reviewer said that it was predictable and clichéd, and he was being kind. But it was a start. It got me thinking. I wanted to write a good novel, I wanted whatever power I had to recreate the magic of fiction to appear on the printed page. But how to do this while at the same time fighting to make a living in the real world, the world where first novels are million-to-one shots and where kids have to eat every day and mortgages have to be paid every month? The answer: wait, plan, do your job, pay your bills, and when the time comes, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger, to let your angels go so that archangels may come in. That’s what I did. In 1999, I sold my law practice and began writing. My wife continued to work full time. I occasionally moonlighted as a lawyer, but mainly I wrote. When I picked my head up in 2007, I had written three novels. In 2008, I signed a four book contract with The Story Plant, a small publisher in Connecticut.
I’ve left out the hard parts, the pain of multiple rejection, the self-doubt, the worries about money, the wandering around in an industry I knew nothing about. But everyone knows about them. They have to be faced. I decided to face them because, though I loved practicing law, I loved the dream of being a writer more. That dream has come true. My new dream is that as many people as possible—millions would be great—find the magic in my novels that I found in The Carpetbaggers when I was fourteen, the magic that hooked me on reading and that, though I did not know it at the time, has changed me from within and healed me when necessary over all these long years.
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