“People who succeed in the arts most often are the people who get up again after getting knocked down. Persistence is critical.”
“I used to write on the morning commuter train. It was sometimes no more than a paragraph a day, but it kept the candle burning.”
It took Scott Turow a “six to seven year period” to write his first published novel Presumed Innocent. But if that alone doesn’t show his persistence, he had written four unpublished novels before that. Though he was a practicing lawyer and had published a memoir (One L), his childhood dream of being a novelist wasn’t faring so well. In an interview with Jason Boog, Turow said, “My life as a writer was carried on against the odds… as a writer of fiction I hadn’t gotten very far.”
Presumed Innocent was published in 1987 and he has now had eight fiction books published (along with two non-fiction books) and has sold more than 25 million books.
“There have always been books about trials going back to the trial of Socrates, or the Merchant of Venice, or Billy Budd. But Presumed Innocent depended upon a change in public attitude: lawyers were no longer idealised figures.
The overwhelmingly successful trial book of my early adolescence had been To Kill A Mockingbird. Atticus Finch is so perfect it’s beyond belief. He’s a widower caring in a loving fashion for two wonderful children. He is a man of courage, principle, deep intellect – and the best shot in the county!
Presumed Innocent challenged that view of lawyers. I wrote it saying to myself: ‘To hell with Perry Mason, I’m gonna show it as it is.’ It turned out people were intensely curious about what actually goes on in courtrooms, and that Americans were deeply interested in law.”
Interview with Robert McCrum
It would be interesting to compare courtroom dramas before the movies The Verdict (1982) and Presumed Innocent (1990) with courtroom films and TV programs of the last 20 years.