I was sent a free copy of ‘The Aladdin Trial’ by Abi Silver in March (here is the link to my review). As part of her blog tour for the release of her new book I was given the opportunity to ask Abi a number of questions about the book.
It is out on 28th June. Go have a look at all the other blogs taking part in the Blog tour (see featured image)
Thank you for letting me be a part of your blog tour for ‘The Aladdin Trial’. I loved the book even though it isn’t my genre and have bought the ‘Pinocchio Brief’ although I haven’t got round to reading it yet, it is placed high on my TBR. The crime/thriller genre is one my dad loves so I passed the book back to him and he loved it as well and didn’t see the end coming.
I enjoyed the fact that it was from the point of view of the defending lawyers as it gave the book a different twist and emphasis, it wasn’t about necessarily finding out what had happened it was more about proving what didn’t happen.
Hi, so delighted you enjoyed it and that your dad did too. Hope you enjoy The Pinocchio Brief.
As a lawyer by profession, what made you want to write fiction? And when you started did you want to write crime fiction or was it a case of write what you know?
Some people say that what lawyers produce is all fiction anyway (I couldn’t possibly comment)! But seriously, I have always enjoyed reading and writing in all genres, with a soft spot for crime, beginning with my absolute favourite, used-to-read-under-the-bedclothes ‘Sherlock Holmes’. Any method of solving a fictional crime works for me, as long as there’s something thrilling and unexpected in the story. And I love red herrings. When I decided I wanted to write a book, it therefore seemed natural to write a crime novel, with lawyers taking the leading roles.
How many parts of the procedural things are from your history as a lawyer and how much is fictionalised for storytelling purposes?
It’s mostly fiction but I have tried to keep things ‘realistic’ (rather than ‘real’). I wanted to focus on the great theatre of the courtroom, rather than the reality of adjourned court hearings or hours of reading through documentation.
Judith and Constance have a great professional relationship as well as a friendship, is this based on a real one of yours and was it easy to write?
I really loved creating the Judith Burton/Constance Lamb partnership and hope it will endure for a while yet. I wanted to make them very different, both in background and outlook, but to show that they could still work successfully together and learn from each other. This is very much reflective of my own personal experience in ‘the world of work’.
From ‘The Aladdin Trial’ it was clear that you are interested in Artificial Intelligence and the role that technology plays in our lives and society in general. What roles do you think it will fill in the near future that it hasn’t yet and how much do you think we should be worried about it?
I think it would be easier to list what roles AI will NOT fill in the near future. It’s clear to me that everything we know is going to change. But I am not (I hope) a harbinger of doom; many technological advances are wonderful and truly revolutionary, especially in the field of medicine. I do have a number of concerns though. I believe we need to test products fully, to regulate them and to produce a plan for the jobs AI will and will not undertake, before we develop the technology further.
As I said, crime fiction and thriller aren’t genres I would normally read but I’m aware of the lack of female characters in them. Both of yours are strong women but also distinctly different people which is something we don’t see enough of in fiction and especially in genre fiction. Did you write them aiming to get more representation of women in genre books and were you aware of any pressure to ‘get it right’ either internally or from other people?
I didn’t set out to make any kind of political statement when I created Constance and Judith; it was more that I wanted to reproduce, in my story, the intelligence, ingenuity, attention to detail, devotion, determination and sheer hard-working nature of many real women I saw in the law.
I was aware of the Anthony Horowitz-inspired debate on whether a writer can really ‘step into the shoes’ of a person who has had radically different life experiences from his/her own, but I decided I had little choice; my books would be very dull if they were all about Yorkshire-born, middle-aged women living in Hertfordshire, who had been rejected by CrackerJack ‘Young Entertainers’ at the age of 8 (hard to believe I know).
The Aladdin Trial focuses on the refugee crisis. Is this something you feel strongly about? How much did you want the characters to be biased against the refugees?
The refugee crisis was constantly on the News when I was writing and I imagined the difficulties refugees might face, trying to integrate into British life. I was also conscious that people whose first language isn’t English are often at a real disadvantage in the justice system for a variety of reasons.
Although the law is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ the court of the media often differs and paints a guilty picture from the word go, causing the jury to be biased and even Constance’s’ partner is swayed by what he’s read and doesn’t want her to take the case. How much of this is a problem in real life?
When I wrote The Aladdin Trial, I had in mind the case of Joanna Yeates, who was murdered in Bristol in 2010. A neighbour of hers, Vincent Tabak, who admitted manslaughter but denied murder, was eventually convicted. But in the immediate aftermath, suspicion had fallen on her landlord, Christopher Jefferies, and more than 40 newspaper articles were published which were defamatory of Mr Jefferies. He later brought a libel action against those newspapers, his lawyer stating that he was ‘the latest victim of the regular witch hunts and character assassination conducted by the worst elements of the British tabloid media.’
Both of your books have a fairy tale connection in the title, Pinocchio and Aladdin, why did you pick these two in particular? And is this a theme you are going to continue?
‘Pinocchio’ was the obvious choice for a nickname for software which reads your minute facial movements, to decide if you are telling the truth or not. Then I decided that I should continue the fairy tale theme into the next book to help with continuity (I don’t want to say too much more for fear of giving something away). And, yes, the theme will continue into (at least) the third book too.
What is the first book you remember reading and enjoying as a child?
Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl.
What are you currently reading?
Pause whilst I go upstairs to see what is sitting next to the bed – so here we go: The Ten Year Stretch – various authors, anthology of short stories published for the tenth anniversary of CrimeFest, The Skeleton Road, Val McDermid, Song of the Sun God, Shankari Chandran, East West Street, Philippe Sands and Past and Present poetry anthology: power and conflict (the last is from youngest son’s English GCSE)
Please ALL go buy this book and then let me know what you think and if you worked out what had happened.
The Pinocchio Brief is now already in my Dad’s TBR and I’m looking forward to what he has to say about it. I finished it on the train home from work yesterday and it was so good that I left my phone on the train. I’ve automatically placed the third Burton and Lamb Thriller on my pre-order list in advance of next year.
And as always please leave a comment letting me know what you think of Abi’s answers to my questions. Or if (once you’ve read it) there are any questions that you think I should have asked.
28 JUNE 2018 * PAPERBACK £8.99 *