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Interview with Gabriel Boutros, author of The Guilty

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The Guilty is the story of a veteran criminal lawyer who has always had a ‘take no prisoners’ approach when he fights his cases. He is the kind of lawyer you would want if you were in trouble with the law: willing to do whatever it took to win. Things begin to change for him when his teenage daughter’s best friend is raped by a man that Bratt had once defended. He sits in court with his daughter to watch the man’s trial and sees how the defense attorney twists the victim’s testimony to make it look like she got what she wanted. Bratt knows that this is something he has done many times before in the past, but seeing it from the outside causes him to question the way he has practiced his profession for all these years. The fact that his daughter now hates all lawyers, and especially him, only adds to his troubles. While all this is going on he is hired to defend a young gang member accused of a brutal double murder. His client’s mother is a deeply religious woman who looks to Bratt as the one man who can save her son, but Bratt has reasons to doubt that her son is as innocent as she believes. He knows it’s going to take all his skill to win this new case, but he’s not sure if he can continue to twist facts and manipulate the truth the way he always did before.

What genre is it?
It is a courtroom drama. The murder trial is the center-piece of the story, where all conflicts are resolved, and all questions are answered.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
I think it’s the kind of story that will appeal to lovers of crime fiction, legal thrillers, as well as personal dramas. It isn’t intended for too young an audience, as there are some R-rated scenes and language. I also think that readers who want to have an idea of what lawyers think and feel as they defend some of their nastier clients will find a lot to enjoy.

Tell us more about the lawyer at the centre of your story.
Defense attorney Robert Bratt is the main character, and as mentioned above he is a veteran lawyer for whom winning is the only thing that matters.

He is hired by Jennifer Campbell to defend her son who is accused of murder. She is a single mother, who has worked hard all her life to raise her children in a respectful and God-loving manner. She can’t believe that her son, Marlon Small, could have committed the crimes he is accused of.

Small is a street-tough punk, who has little regard for his mother or the law. He is the kind of a client a lawyer would have a lot of difficulty caring about.

There is also Nancy Morin, a homicide detective falling for Bratt. She is torn between her feelings for him and her disregard for his profession.

Peter Kouri is a young lawyer who assists Bratt, and who sees the trial unfolding through the eyes of an innocent, never sure how far Bratt is willing to go to win a case.

Complete this sentence for us: if you like _________________, you’ll love The Guilty.
The movie “The Verdict.” The one thing both stories have in common is a lawyer who is a less than stellar human being, who has to overcome some of his own personal demons to find redemption. Also lots of great courtroom battles.

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
I have a novella, entitled If I Should Die Before I Wake, that can be read on my site. It’s the story of a mob accountant who embezzles money from his boss and then goes on the run, followed by a hit man sent to kill him. The accountant who is being hunted begins to dream that he is the hunter, and the hit man has dreams that he is the prey. As their paths get closer the line between dreams and reality begins to blur.

I also have published two short stories, and also posted a few others that you can read on my site.

Your site?
You can read about The Guilty and my other fiction writing at: www.storiesbygabrielboutros.weebly.com.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have lived most of my life in Montreal, the city where I found the two great loves of my life: my wife, and the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. I need them both to get through our long winters. I spent 24 years as a defense attorney, representing many people just like Marlon Small. I tried to use some of the experiences I lived through over those many years to bring a certain amount of detail and realism to my story.

Being a lawyer by training, how easy has the transition to author been?
I love telling stories. The writing part actually takes more patience and discipline than I normally have, but there is nothing more satisfying than having someone read and enjoy something that I wrote. What I like least is the solitude. Writing is not a social activity. To do it with any degree of success I have to shut myself in my little office and ignore friends and family, as well as the rare warm days we get in Montreal. Every minute a writer spends enjoying his life with his friends and family is a minute he isn’t writing, which is when
guilt and self-doubt begin to creep in. In that way, writing can become a sort of addiction that won’t leave you alone until you satisfy your needs.

How can we follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook?
For Twitter, go to: @Boutros_Author.
There is also a Facebook page for The Guilty: https://www.facebook.com/the.guilty.gabriel.boutros.

What’s next?
I’m working (or rather, trying to fight a strong case of writer’s block) on my new novel, which is tentatively titled A Crooked Little Man. It is about a lawyer once again, but the main character is a shady and not very competent attorney, who is barely scraping by. He gets in way over his head when he is hired to represent a homeless man accused of murder.

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