Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Q&A with Robert Dugoni




Robert Dugoni is the author of the new novel Her Deadly Game. His many other books include The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell.


Q: What inspired you to write Her Deadly Game, and how did you create your character Keera Duggan?


A: Each novel I write usually starts with a simple idea. I was speaking to a friend who told me about Darren Berg, a Seattle con artist who bilked many sophisticated and wealthy investors out of millions of dollars just like Bernie Madoff, then walked out of a low security prison and was never seen again. From there I started to piece together a story.


Many of the best trial attorneys I have known and practiced with are also very good chess players. So I wanted Keera Duggan, my protagonist, to have that strength, but I also wanted her to have her skeletons, as we all do –  a personal relationship at work that goes sour and puts her career unjustifiably in danger, a dysfunctional family due to alcoholism, a tattered relationship with her father.


I didn’t want to write a straight legal thriller, but one that was layered with family and personal issues and police procedural details. The last thing I thought of was the crime. For that I called a former police officer and he put me in touch with a friend of his and together the three of us put together the pieces of the crime that propels the story forward.


Q: You describe the relationship between Keera and her father as “tattered”—can you say more about that?


A: She very much loves her father but she is angry at him for ruining something she loved - her connection with him through chess. She is having a hard time forgiving him, and understanding that his alcoholism does not discriminate in who it harms and isn’t intentional. It’s an illness, for which he needs help.  


Q: In your acknowledgments, you describe yourself as “a recovering lawyer.” How did your own experiences factor into the creation of this novel?

A: The law is a difficult profession, physically and emotionally. To do it well, you are constantly working, and dealing with a lot of stress. At the same time, you’re trying to have a life outside of work, which isn’t always easy.


I practiced law full-time for 13 years and part-time another 10. I’ve tried cases and assisted others in trials. I’ve dealt with the stress. I’ve struggled to maintain a strong family life, to be both a good husband and a good, present father.


I also know about alcoholism through my Irish grandfather, and a bit about the impact that had on his family. I pulled from all of these things to create Her Deadly Game.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I never write a story with a moral or a lesson in mind. Each reader comes to a story with their own personal background and takes from the story that which is meaningful to them. My only hope is that the story touches readers on an emotional level such that they can become a part of, and immerse themselves in the story.


Q: What are you working on now? Will Keera return in another novel?


A: I always have a lot of irons in the fire. Tracy Crosswhite #10, One Last Kill, my police procedural series, will be released Oct. 3, 2023, and I have an idea for Tracy #11 kicking around.


Keera Duggan will be back in what I hope is an equally long running series.


In the interim, I’m working on a stand-alone novel based on a true story, a trial that took place in 1933 for which I have three full scrapbooks kept by my wife’s grandfather who was a prominent Seattle attorney. That will be out in August 2024.


I’m also working on a World War II story with two incredible researchers. The story is based on real events that have never, to my knowledge, been told in any detail. Lake Union Publishing, a division of Amazon Publishing that specializes in literary novels, will be publishing the novel in 2024. I’m excited about that project as well. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just that I’m always so very grateful to my loyal readers and I’m hoping they will love these new projects as much as I loved writing them.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Robert Dugoni.

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