Author J.R. Reardon has been licensed to practice law since December of 1996 but has “talked law” at the dinner table for as long as she can remember. She is admitted to practice in the federal and state courts of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2007, she was published in the Suffolk University Law Review (“Selecting Supreme Court Justices: Preserving the Profession, Protecting with Professionalism,” Vol. XL, No. 4). The granddaughter of a Massachusetts Federal District Court Judge, daughter of an attorney, former partner of her own law firm and wife of an Inspector-Attorney of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, it was no great surprise to close family and friends that she would eventually pen a legal thriller or two. Confidential Communications, her first legal thriller, was released in June of 2008 and has received glowing reviews. Her second legal thriller, Dishonored, was just released in January, 2010. Attorney Reardon has been living in the Maryland/D.C. area since 2003 with her husband, David M. Reardon, Esq. and their five year old daughter.
Thanks for being here, J.R.. It’s a pleasure.
Thank you, Kelly, but the pleasure is all mine. You have a fantastic blog and have recommended some wonderful books to all of us.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…
I’m originally from Massachusetts’ North Shore, the oldest of 4 children. I attended St. Mary’s Grammar School in Melrose and Girls Catholic High School in Malden where I was involved in the Business Club, softball, Student Council and the National Honor Society. I also participated in cheerleading and drama at our “brother” school, Malden Catholic High School. After high school, I attended Suffolk University in Boston and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a major in Communications/Pre-Law and minor in Public Policy and Government. In 1996 I received my J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in Boston. I guess you can say I love to read and keep myself busy!
When I graduated, I did not want to specialize in just one area of law. I was fascinated by it all and felt that if I could practice in as many areas as possible I could better represent my clients. If I better represented my clients, I helped to improve our communities. So, instead of applying to big firms and specializing in one area, I became a partner at Saltzman & McNaught, LLP in Stoneham, Massachusetts, where I represented people all over the state. I also helped my father, Stephen R. McNaught, Esq. teaching insurance law at Suffolk Law which was great fun. In 2003 I married David and moved to the Maryland/D.C. area. We have been here ever since. It feels like we left on our honeymoon and haven’t yet returned! I take nothing for granted. I have a wonderful family and a wonderful life. My heart is full.
I love being an attorney, but that’s only one part of me. I’ve always made it a point to live life to the fullest. Many in fact who meet me outside of my work are shocked when they find out what I really do. That’s fun. I guess I’m not one of the so-called “stiff” ones. (Still, don’t cross me. I take my work very seriously! )
That said, I’ve traveled to Paris for a weekend “just because,” I’ve skied double black diamonds in the Northeast and ridden horses in the mountains of New Hampshire just to get a better view of the foliage with some of my closest friends. I acquired my motorcycle license in 2001, rolled an Easter egg at the White House with my daughter, introduced her to Dr. Buzz Aldrin, and taught her and my nieces how to fly kites for the first time in front of the Capitol Building in D.C. I’ve also successfully shot both a glock and a shotgun on several occasions without chipping my fingernail polish. Is there anything I won’t do other than try out for American Idol? I hate amusement park rides. I’m the one who will hold the bags and take pictures for you. I need to be in control.
Balance is crucial in all aspects of life, especially when working at home. For me, family always comes first and time flies by so fast being a parent I don’t want to miss a second – I want to show my daughter everything and teach her everything I know about this wonderful world to keep her happy, healthy, safe and a good citizen.
My imagination stems from the law and an almost unnatural ability to attract the craziest of scenarios in life which I hope continues (I say this as we continue to shovel out from 5 feet of snow which was recently dumped on the Maryland/D.C. area). I don’t ever want to wake up at age 80 and say “I wish I did that…” So far, so good!
Embracing life’s adventures and my love of reading and music opens my mind. You have to practice law with an open mind and do the same in writing fiction. I suppose I’ll have to practice closing it a little more in about ten years as my daughter tests me with advanced excuses to avoid getting into trouble. (Gulp!)
#2- Okay, foremost, where do you find the time to write and do you work by a schedule or timeline?
When it comes down to schedules and timelines, I’m a great multi-tasker. I have to thank my legal career for that. That and I suppose being a mom, which should include the term “multi-tasker” by definition.
My schedule changes constantly. When I write, I work off an outline on a legal pad. My goal is 20 chapters, 20 pages per chapter to get a good chunk of a story out there. Then I adjust as needed. It sounds archaic to write it out before typing it in, but it works for me. I type everything in on weekends or when my daughter’s in school. Fortunately I type fast.
#3- How do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?
Thankfully the readers have embraced my work so far. But I look at it this way: everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That’s the magic of this country. And our country has evolved as a result in part to great debate. Everyone has their own perspective of things. Some may read my work and find it shocking. Others may have had worse obstacles to overcome in their opinion and find it boring. How can I fault that? And if something I write sparks debate, heck – maybe it will spark something in someone else’s mind somewhere to help improve our world even a little. Wow! How vague was that sentence? Sorry!
Negative reviews or critiques are no different than many situations we encounter in ordinary life, really. We all put on outfits each day risking someone judging what we are wearing, or how we are doing our hair. I’m comfortable enough with my work by the time it goes to print because I always have it professionally edited. I know at that point I can’t do any more. Instead I challenge myself to create a sequel even more exciting than the last book.
Being an attorney, I am bound and obligated to be honest and ethical and I am so when I review books. I just ask that others do the same, whether it is for my books or others they review. It’s by legitimate, detailed reviews that we inspire artists to improve. If the artists improve, by definition, our own entertainment improves. The last thing we want is for Hollywood to be filled with awards ceremonies for “the best mediocre film of the year”!
#4- What made you go the self-publishing route and what challenges have you faced?
By the time I finished Dishonored, I knew what I was getting into. I had been through the publishing process before with my law review article for Suffolk University Law School and the publication of my first legal thriller, Confidential Communications. My husband David always gets the first round of editing and I also had a professional editing package with the publisher. The publishing world is changing – the gap between independent publishing and mainstream publishing is becoming smaller and smaller. It’s about creating a good product and getting the word out there. There are many talented new authors who have taken this route.
Unlike an independent film, an independent book has a stigma attached to it. That is changing though, thankfully. I’ve read a lot of “indie” books that were excellent, and enjoyed them more than some NYT bestsellers. In today’s world there is no difference than mainstream publishing but for a phrase. As long as you have a good editor and a good story, there’s no reason why you can’t market. The problem is the New York Times doesn’t include indie books. They won’t evaluate them. I think that’s wrong. Hopefully the process will change.
The best thing about self-publishing is the creative control. I love to write and I love to take pictures. Designing the cover and the book trailer video was a lot of fun. Holding the finished product in my hands after all those hours of work is one thing, but another entirely to hear my daughter exclaim, “Mommy! That’s you on the back!” Then that genuine look of love and pride in my husband’s face – well, I have no words for that.
#5- Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites?
That’s a good question, Kelly. There are so many childhood favorites! The ones that stand out the most are Charlotte’s Web, Dick and Jane and Friends, The Chronicles of Narnia and Nancy Drew Mysteries.
As far as what I have been reading lately, you can find many of my latest reviews on Goodreads, Shelfari, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Borders. My choices vary by my mood or what’s next in the TBR pile in my office. I may be inspired, for example, to “take a trip back home to Boston” via a Robert Parker or Dennis Lehane novel. I’ve enjoyed Mitch Albom’s work, and recently have read some Jodi Picoult. There are a lot of “indie” books that I have read that are true gems, and I have also tried to branch out to other genres I otherwise may not have picked up. “A Soldier’s Promise: The Heroic True Story of an American Soldier and an Iraqi Boy” by First Sergeant Daniel Hendrex is excellent. It’s one thing for authors to help others “escape” through their work. It’s another thing entirely to share true accounts of how others keep us safe in our beds.
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?
Dishonored just came out a few weeks ago, so that’s taking up most of my time right now. Be assured though….I have plenty of more stories for you all in the pipeline!
Here’s the synopsis for Dishonored:
In treachery, there is no honor…
Federal Court Judge Rebecca Tameron seemed to have it all…a loving family, a prestigious career and the respect of her community – that is, until her world falls apart. Implicated in the disappearance of a Supreme Court Justice, and the shooting of a Federal agent, Tameron scrambles to uncover the truth. The problem is, each investigative avenue she pursues results in more questions, and every investigative avenue leads back to her. How can she clear her name?
While exploring the reaches, limits and dangers of our increasingly security-conscious and interconnected world, Dishonored questions the faith we place in both strangers and friends, and reminds us just how perilous our techno-savvy life can be.
Official Website: www.jrreardon.com
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#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would just like to thank you again for having me here Kelly, and everyone for visiting with us. I am eternally grateful for all of your reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and other sites, tags on Confidential Communications and “Dishonored’s Amazon product pages and comments here.
And a special thank you to our libraries who have not only shelved my books but for always being there for us. So many libraries are struggling these days and we should never take them for granted.
I have had the pleasure of being entertained by so many wonderful authors all these years. I look forward to continuing to do the same for you. xo