*I’m giving something away. And I’m not going to talk all about myself. Bear with me.
I’m not a real lawyer. Ask my dad. When we go places, he introduces my husband: “This is my son-in-law, he’s an attorney.” Um, dad, remember all those checks you wrote to that top tier law school? They were for my education.
“Yeah, but you’re not a real lawyer.” You’re right, dad. The fact that I’ve read the tax code for thirty-five different states (AND Puerto Rico) cover to cover does not a real lawyer make. To be clear, I went to law school and passed the bar. I could practice. But I don’t. I’m a non-traditional. I was a consultant at big accounting firms before I went in-house for one of my clients. I don’t see the inside of the courtroom often unless I have to go get something signed.
I speak about alternative legal careers often. When I do, often to law students, I stress to them that law school is teaching you how to think differently, that it’s not just about learning to read a case, but learning to reason through a problem. I’m blessed to have quite a few peers I went through school with that aren’t traditional. They’re using their skills outside the courtroom.
I like to think that my legal background makes me better writer. I know that the first draft of Home Is Where Your Boots Are (finished my first year of law school when I should have been studying for Contracts. I don’t recommend this, by the way) was terrible as compared to what you get to read today. Yes, my editor is phenomenal and it’s mostly due to her, but I don’t think I would have been able to cipher her instructions, deduct what she meant and apply it throughout the book as easily unless I’d been to law school. The law is a puzzle. Writing books is like making puzzles.
I get really excited about lawyers who end up doing “weird” things. Like jewelry design. And book writing. So I kind of fangirl them. When I swooned over Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff, she directed me to Amy Impellizzeri, a lawyer-turned-writer friend of hers. #customrusticcuff
* This plug is necessary. If you’re in law school, thinking about law school, or are in the legal field, you need this book.
It’s rare that writers can transition from fiction to non-fiction well. Amy can. And I like to take care of all my lawyer friends. Order now.*
I knew Jill was a genius based on nothing other than her shoes (forgive my vapid notions for a minute, but we live in the South and shoes are so very telling and Jill’s were functional, hot and had bows!) so I went and ordered Amy’s Lemongrass Hope.
At my later age, I am slightly jaded by books. When I was younger, everything I read was awesome. Even if it wasn’t. I could find something interesting in every book. But now, 2.5 years of law school later, I find myself evaluating instead of enjoying. #buzzkill So I was unsure about Amy’s book. But y’all. Oh my. I love all my readers, so I don’t promote another author or book unless I deem it worthy. I’m picky like that. I know y’all are discerning. But y’all. Oh my.
Lemongrass Hope is a good book. Just a
darn damn good book. Without allegiance to chick-lit, or romance, or fantasy, Amy Impellizzeri has managed to craft a damn good book. Which is hard in this day and age when someone always wants to put Baby in a corner. I don’t do book reviews. I’m not qualified for that. But I will say this: It’s like a sweet Gone Girl, in that it made me uncomfortable and made me want to go hug all my people after I finished. I found myself loving and hating the heroine. But most importantly, to qualify as a damn good book, it made me think. It made me feel. And it inspired me.
So I’m going to do you a solid. You’re welcome. I’m giving one away. Amy’s gonna sign it.
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After you read Lemongrass Hope, you’re gonna want to pick Amy’s brain. So I’m doing you another solid. I picked a little for you. Here’s an interview with Amy, about allthethings.
What’s your undergrad degree in?
Double major in English and Philosophy (Correct, I clearly had no plans OTHER than going to law school with that combo J)
Where did you go to law school? Any particular emphasis while there?
George Washington in DC – I actually focused on regulatory work while there – and clerked for two years for the American Petroleum Institute while in law school, doing a LOT of regulatory work in those days. But then I got a federal clerkship after graduation with the Court of Federal Claims and from then on – I ONLY wanted to be a litigator.
Did your law degree require a paper (if you didn’t do a “note” for a journal) and what was your topic?
So it wasn’t for Law Review or a Journal – but during my Third Year, I wrote a comprehensive paper for my Products Liability course about the National Childhood Vaccine Act, evaluating whether the completely innovative and unique program would work for ANY other mass tort claim(s) in the US – and concluded that it would not. I sent my paper (and a resume) to the Court of Federal Claims, and subsequently was offered a 2-year clerkship with the Chief Special Master of the Court – Hon. Gary Golkiewicz – who had essentially spearheaded the entire Vaccine Court since its beginning. That was an amazing and formative 2 years.
What did law school teach you about writing? How has it lent itself to fiction writing? Non-fiction?
My legal writing background has been instrumental to writing non-fiction, but frankly, I didn’t expect my legal writing background to lend itself to fiction. Yet, the truth is – it has …
In the legal world, writing (and evaluating issues) from different perspectives and different points of view is imperative … and in fiction – writing from differing points of view and differing perspectives is a much more interesting event, and one that I gravitate to. Most likely because of my training and background.
Of course, finding my own voice – apart from those of my clients – was a crucial step in making the leap from legal writer to fiction writer.
I feel layering themes is a writing skill lawyers at which lawyers are adept (my opinion). Any thoughts on this? Lemongrass Hope has multiple themes. Did you weave the themes intentionally as you went along, or did you emphasize each theme during different writing sessions?
Yes, I wove all of the various themes intentionally. Writing for me is a very reflective process. I am always thinking about the scenes, the themes, the characters. Even when I’m not physically writing. (My current work-in-progress is evolving in exactly the same way.) And I thought to myself during the Lemongrass Hope writing process: this theme of fate or destiny vs. choice has to affect decisions (e.g., medical, professional, etc.) other than love to create a complete story. Also, Kate needs to be challenged on her ideas of motherhood. And so does the reader. And thus, the layers began.
And, you know … I never really focused on how important my legal writing background was to the “layering” task until right now. Legal briefs are written with multiple arguments, competing arguments, alternative arguments, all layered together to create one theme, i.e., “PICK ME!” Thirteen+years of writing legal briefs has obviously bled into my fiction writing as well! J
My favorite line from Lemongrass Hope is “[c]hildren are hope.” Any expansion or backstory on this? And can we get Jill to make us a cuff that says this?
Oh, yes! Well, you know, Kate is a fictional character, but I happen to agree with many of her views on motherhood J I think having children is about the craziest thing any person or 2 people can actually do – it is courageous and brave and nuts and above all – a supreme act of optimism.
Your latest is a non-fiction piece, Lawyer Interrupted. What was the inspiration for this? What’s your best piece of advice for law students trying to decide what to do after law school?
Lawyer Interrupted came about from a phone call I received from an agent while I was finishing Lemongrass Hope. She said (essentially): hey, that’s very nice that you’re working on a novel and all, but really, what I think you should do is pitch a book to the ABA about successfully transitioning from the law. Hint, hint.
And I realized on the spot that she was describing the book I’d been wanting to write ever since I turned out the lights in my 42nd floor office in Times Square!
After researching and interviewing for Lawyer Interrupted, I have to say – the most important thing for graduating law students to realize is that the law degree is the most versatile asset they now own. Go work for a big law firm if that’s what you want to do. But if you don’t – there are options. Lots of options. A reader of Lawyer Interrupted recently said “There’s a profound honesty in the book that is liberating.” The knowledge that – because the ABA itself has greenlighted this project – this book will arrive in the laps of so many who really need its honesty is the true inspiration for Lawyer Interrupted.
Amy is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, and award-winning author. Amy’s first novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) , was a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Winner (Romance) and a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist. A favorite with bloggers and book clubs, Lemongrass Hope was named the #1 reviewed book in 2014 by blogger, The Literary Connoisseur.
Amy is also the author of the non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), and numerous essays and articles that have appeared in online and print journals including: The Huffington Post, ABA Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, Skirt! Magazine, and more.
Amy is a Tall Poppy Writer and a volunteer for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and one energetic weimaraner, where she is currently hard at work on her next novel, Secrets of Worry Dolls.