TF: A real legal drama is palpably played out in this novel. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you chose to move away from being a Deputy District Attorney to take up writing?Learn about Alafair Burke's seven top novels that show the real lives of lawyers.
AB: It was a bit accidental, as everything good in my life seems to have been. After graduating from Stanford Law School, I became a Deputy District Attorney. I worked as a prosecutor for about five years. Like a lot of lawyers, I thought about making big changes – becoming a law professor, or maybe starting that book idea I had in the back of my head for a while. But I liked the job enough that I may never have left, except I followed a man (now “ex,” by the way) to another city and, as a result, had to make some changes. I took a summer off and started writing the story I’d been carrying around for years—set back in my old office, in the city I loved (Portland, Oregon). After a couple of years as a law professor, I finally finished it, thinking it would be my one book I could show people on a shelf when I was old. I was lucky enough to find editors who just assumed I had other books to write. THE EX is my eleventh novel. I still feel like I should pinch myself to see if it’s real. That’s why I tell people who want to write a book that the only way it’s going to happen is if they start.
TF: Olivia, in The Ex, is at times a flawed but very determined character. She decides to take up the case of her ex, which brings all kinds of personal issues and feelings into the mix. It sounds like you are a keen observer of people and family dynamics, is that so?
AB: Oh, yeah, I’m definitely all about the feelings! Sometimes I think you have to...[read on]
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The Page 69 Test: The Ex.