Young criminal defense attorney Sam Young has always known he had a gift. Or a curse. A minor psychic ability, he sometimes thinks. When he is hired by attractive young nun Camille Paradisi to help discover the identity of a serial killer before a local Priest is exposed for not having turned the man after a confession – thereby allowing another killing – his abilities seemingly enhance. He quickly learns that the enigmatic Camille is not telling him everything.
Sam reads a section of an old journal anonymously mailed to the Church, which purports to tell the life story of a man with mind control and other special powers who claims to be the descendant of the fallen angels cast out of heaven by God. He ponders its relation to the case while using his legal and investigative skills to establish the identity of the killer. As he learns more about the mystery author, and Camille, he realizes that the journal has less to do with the serial killer than an age-old battle for entry into heaven. As things become even more clear, he sees that Camille’s own history and purpose in hiring him are different than he ever could have believed. In the end, the question is not only whether Sam can find one killer and save one priest, but whether he will take part in the trial of the ages.
What inspired you to write the book?
I began the book on New Years Eve of 2011 when I was on vacation in Buenos Aires. A few days later we were in what is basically now the resort town of Bariloche, in Patagonia. We drove outside town and through this small village with an old, wooden cross sitting sort of at a dirt cross roads. Later that day I wrote the first draft of what is now Chapter 4 of Almost Mortal. That part is about the kids living in the poor part of Bariloche in the fifties. Something about the cross made me think about the mystical side of a village like that – especially how it would have been sixty years ago. So these kids, and their magical, if you will, heritage, blended with the modern day legal thriller I had been trying to start two days before. If you read Almost Mortal, you’ll see what I mean.
When did you realise that you want to write a book?
I first realized I wanted to write a novel (or a TV show) a long time ago. It took me a lot of practice since them. I hope it was enough to have a chance.
Who helped you in writing the book and please say about their contributions?
Lots and lots of people helped me with this and other books. Ten years ago I started working with an editor in New York named Peter Gelfan. It would not be an exaggeration to say that over time he taught me how to write a novel. Whether any novel I write is any good is a different question, though. Friends and family, my mother in particular, have helped me by reading things for years. Now that I have begun to meet more people in the business, in know other writers and screenwriters that help each other.
How is your book going to inspire the readers?
Not sure on this one. It’s not literature. This book is meant to entertain. I think it would be a good pilot for a cable show or a movie. But I think the book could get someone thinking about whether there is really good and evil and whether some of our religious outlooks are clearly not quite right. Of course, a lot of people already think this, but this could be an interesting twist on it.
If you are given the chance to change one thing in your book what would it be?
Maybe I should have made it longer instead of made it a book one, book two kind of thing, but I think it will work out.
How do you find time to write and which part of the day is best for writing for you?
I am a full time criminal defence lawyer so I have to work in streaks and take long breaks. When it is on, I always do it at night and on weekend stays. When really on, I do it constantly for a few days in a row even when at work.
Which books have inspired you the most, in the journey of writing this book?
Too many to write down really. Almost Mortal has a front story and a back story. The front story is inspired by things like “The Lincoln Lawyer”, the backstory is more like “Morality Play”. Its two totally different styles.
What is the best advice, you would give for writers who are trying to write a book?
Read a lot. Take notes when you see or hear something interesting, and always look for odd things to notice. Most importantly though, just keep doing it for fun because it sucks when you get your feedback and realize you have to scrap a lot of what you thought was good. You were wrong.
What are your hobbies?
Exercise, reading, marathon watching of cable shows. Drinking.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully a sequel to Almost Mortal. Also have another novel, finished years ago, that I will try to launch if Almost Mortal does well.
About the Author:
Christopher Leibig is a novelist and criminal defence lawyer who lives and works in Alexandria, Virginia. His first two published books, Saving Saddam (a 2008 novel about the trial of Saddam Hussein) and Montanamo (a 2010 novel about Guantanamo Bay detainees being housed in a small Montana town’s prison) were published by Artnik Books in London.
Saving Saddam was re-released in 2014 under its original American title, The Black Rabbit. Chris also has several published short stories – Secret Admirer (The Cynic on-line magazine 2004) Coldcocked(Skyline magazine 2004), Fly (The Cynic on-line magazine 2009), Intervention (Traveller’s Playground Press 2014), and Paradise City (Traveller’s Playground Press 2014). The Black Rabbit, Montanamo, Intervention, and Paradise City are also available on audio book by Audible. Chris has also published numerous articles on criminal defence and related politics – including in the Huffington Post and The Examiner – and appeared as a legal expert regularly since 2009 in print and television media – including Fox News, CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Sports Illustrated. In recent years Chris has regularly handled high profile criminal cases in the DC area and travelled abroad to speak to law schools. Since 2012, Chris and his colleagues have lectured on criminal defence throughout Virginia, and in Scotland, Ireland, Trinidad, The Bahamas, and Jamaica. Chris’ new novel, Almost Mortal, is due to be released by Koehler Books by mid-2016.