Thursday, February 8, 2024

Q&A with Gary L. Stuart



Gary L. Stuart is the author of the new novels Hide and Be and its sequel, My Brother Myself. Also a lawyer, he teaches at Arizona State University.



Q: What inspired you to write Hide and Be and My Brother Myself?

A: Honestly, I was not “inspired” to write it. In 2005, I was intrigued by the Maine countryside, the people we met while attending a family wedding in Bristol, Maine, and the notion that a book about twins who don’t play hide and seek. Instead, they play “Hide and Be.”


The story unraveled itself to me over the next 18 years. I didn’t know anything about the story then. In fact, I never thought it would turn out to involve lawyers, courtrooms, psychiatrists, skulduggery, and such. 

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Martin and Arthur Cheshire? 


A: Actually, I didn’t come up with it—I’m a “panster” writer—I write from the seat of my pants. I’m a devotee of Stephen King’s book On Writing. His thesis is that if you do not plot your book and just let your characters invent themselves and tell you their story as you write (from the seat of your pants) the story will show up, as will the characters.

Q: Did you know from the start that you’d write a duology? 


A: A duology is a book series that only has two books. I didn’t know anything from the start. In fact, I didn’t even suspect anything.


As I see it now, it’s not a duology because that assumes the Cheshire twins are done and gone. Are they? One of them is dead, the other in a funny farm, now known as a psychiatric hospital. He’s incompetent—cannot be brought to trial—and no longer facing murder charges in three states.


Is that reality real? Will he be treated and “cured”? Will the docs opine that he is competent enough to understand the charges against him and assist his lawyer in trial? If so, will he back in court? Or will he escape from the hospital by convincing them he is not Arthur Cheshire, he is really his twin brother Martin, after all. How about a trilogy?


Q: How did your experience as a trial lawyer factor into your writing of these books?

A: Trial lawyers tell their clients’ stories to juries. If we do it well, we might win. If we do it poorly, we will surely lose. Juries mistrust lawyers, love judges, and make their decisions mostly on credibility and how they feel about the characters (plaintiffs and defendants).


I was taught to treat the courtroom as a theater and be very careful where to stand, how to look, when to talk, how to make eye contact with jurors without overdoing it, and when to sit down. I used those skills and trial memories to create the courtrooms and parties in this book.  

Q: What are you working on now? 


A: I’m in the early stages of a novel based on a new character who is unraveling himself in the first chapter. His name is Cent. He is mute. He mimes his way though life by insisting he is not a mute, he’s just mute.


He drives a delivery truck and discovers a body in a bar ditch outside of a funeral home. So, he parks the truck and goes inside to tell them, via his iPad, that there’s a body out in front.


They call the police, who come right away, but the body is gone. They don’t believe he saw a body. And then . . .  There is no then. Cent has not yet told me the rest of his story.

Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: Anything else? Sure. You should know why I write. Anais Nin said it best—“We write to taste life twice.”


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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