Interview with Liz Lazarus

Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
PLEA FOR JUSTICE is a psychological, legal thriller by Liz Lazarus, told in alternating viewpoints by “Jackie,” an overweight paralegal in pursuit of justice, and “Me,” a terrifying killer with treacherous cyber skills. Lazarus has once again produced a page-turner, full of drama and suspense—and more than one unexpected twist.
Set in Atlanta, GA, main character Jackie Siegel is contacted from prison by her estranged friend, Aaron Slater. In high school, he was the “cool jock” and she was the “introverted geek.” They were inseparable until graduation, when he suddenly dumped her with no explanation. Ten years later, Aaron is arrested for one of the most notorious murders in recent history. Labeled by the media as “The Snapchat Killer,” he is accused of posting videos on social media of a college student before brutally murdering her.
Aaron swears he is innocent and begs for Jackie’s help. But why would an innocent man sign a plea deal that he claims he didn’t understand, one that puts him in prison for the rest of his life? As Jackie investigates the evidence, she meets resistance at every turn — no one wants this case reopened. The conflicting information and bizarre clues compel her to keep digging, uncovering questions of trust, self-protection and fate.
As Jackie closes in on the truth, loyalties are strained and relationships are tested, leaving her to wonder if she’s helping an innocent man or being played for a fool. It wouldn’t be the first time. In the end, whose plea for justice is answered?
When and why did you begin writing?
Like the main character, I was attacked by a stranger in my home in the middle of the night. In order to heal, I started to write about how I was feeling and what had changed in my life. At the time, I didn’t know about EMDR therapy to heal from trauma, so used writing as a catharsis. Also like the main character, all I had for self-defense was a can of Mace. After the attack, I said to my brother-in-law, if I had owned a gun, I would have shot the guy as he left. My brother-in-law countered that I was fortunate I didn’t—as shooting a fleeing criminal might not have been a clear case of self-defense. That idea sparked my interest in learning about the criminal justice system and inspired me to write the hypothetical case portrayed in the book. The ending, which I won’t spoil, was prompted by a question from my mother. Once you’ve finished the book, write to me at liz@lizlazarus.com and I’ll tell you more about that.
Tell us more about one of your main characters. What makes him or her unique?
Thomas Bennett, the criminal defense attorney character who consults with my protagonist, Laura Holland, is an interesting guy. Do we love him or hate him? Do we trust him or suspect him? And why is he doing pro-bono work for a journalist – what’s in it for him? At one point, Laura says, “he sounded sincere, but there was this little nagging voice inside of me—aren’t most psychopaths also charmers?” My editor, Jan Risher, may have said it best, “This book is not a traditional whodunit. The author pulled off a tough balance of having me both suspect yet somehow root for the lead male character.”
My best friend from college, Thomas Barnette (not a psychopath, by the way), was my inspiration for the lawyer character. Among other things, he is a musician and, as an added bonus, his song, Let Me Breathe from the CD which I co-produced is the theme song for my book. You can listen to the song on my website: http://www.freeofmalice.com/music-let-me-breathe.htm
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast?
For Laura, the lead female, I have always thought about Jennifer Garner or Jessica Alba. For Chris, the husband, Ben Affleck or Josh Duhamel. (Alas, when I wrote the book, Jennifer & Ben were still together—it would have been so neat to have them be the lead couple.) For Barbara, the therapist, Linda Evans or Barbra Streisand. And, for Thomas, well either the real Thomas Barnette or an aspiring African American actor (say that fast 5 times!). What’s your vote?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I postponed writing this book for many years to pursue other opportunities—I moved to Paris, got my MBA from Northwestern and got my pilot’s license. But this book kept nagging me to write it so I finally relented. I would tell other authors, if you have the calling, listen to it.
Also, at some point along the way, I said I’ll never …
- Cut 30,000 words from my book
- Change the tense from third to first person
- Add a new character
- Change the title (it was SWEET SAM, seriously, isn’t FREE OF MALICE so much better?!)
- Let my mother read it
- Let my fiancé read it
But I did.
If nothing else, this book has taught me to be patient and flexible . . . and it’s a better creation because of the “never-s” that I unshackled. My advice to aspiring authors is to be open and accepting of input that will make your work of art even better.
Tell us something unique about you.
I can land an airplane but can’t drive a stick shift!
How do you market your books?
We are doing traditional media outreach and also social media with FB, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve found that sharing some Advance Copies with readers has been a wonderful experience – nearly everyone has been really receptive to being an early reviewer and I’m making some great friends along the way. One really fun activity we’ve started is reaching out to the Atlanta locations in the book and asking if they want to join in the promotion. So far, we are planning activities with Red Martini bar, Davio’s, Eddie’s Attic, Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range, Fat Matts and have more to come.
Published 2018-04-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Plea for Justice
Pre-release—available May 1, 2018. Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 75,680. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A psychological thriller that depicts the journey of a paralegal striving to reveal the truth about her estranged friend’s incarceration, and leading her on a parallel path of self-discovery.
Free of Malice
Price: $5.95 USD. Words: 89,770. Language: American English. Published: March 26, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A thriller that portrays the emotional realities of healing from a vicious, physical attack and the obsession of one woman to force the legal system to acknowledge her right to self-defense.