Meet Stone Grissom
Stone Grissom is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist, news director, attorney, author, and communications expert. Grissom has won multiple awards as a journalist and has appeared as a legal analyst on many local and national stations. His first legal thriller, A Cry for Justice, was published in 2017 by Moonshine Cove Publishing. Grissom lives with his wife and daughter on Long Island, and is currently working on his second thriller, Bonds of Friendship.
What inspired you to write A Cry for Justice?
A Cry for Justice was inspired by the first major case I had as a young attorney in a large law firm. Eager to make my mark and impress the partners, I accepted a seemingly old cold case involving a young woman gunned down in the prime of her life. No one thought it was worth anything and was only being investigated as a favor to the family of the young woman killed. Little did anyone know that as I dug into the facts, the case quickly thrust me into a world of local gangs and a criminal justice system that was not above looking beyond justice for the sake of finality. It was an eye opener for me and inspired me to write about it.
A Cry for Justice is a legal thriller; did your journalism and legal background play a role while writing this book? How so?
My legal background has played a huge role in both my writing and my journalism. I tell every budding journalist to consider law school when looking at a long-term career in journalism. The two go hand in hand. Learning to think like a lawyer is invaluable to both looking at the work critically and to looking at a news story.
Is your book based on a true story?
My book is "loosely" based on true events. The basics of the story is true. However, I, as many authors, took literary license throughout the story. I felt it was important to allow the story to live on its own, without the confines of pure historical accuracy. The main character actually was modeled after myself, but by the end of the first chapter had taken on a completely distinct life of his own. I also invented some turmoil between the main characters that never existed and a relationship with a district attorney that was based on several past people.
Can you share a brief synopsis of A Cry for Justice?
Samoan gang members fired a fateful shot into the car of an innocent teenager. Tyler Tutuila confessed to police but changed his story at the last minute. The gun disappeared, the jury was confused - it was enough for reasonable doubt. The acquittal gained national attention and rocked the prosecutor's office to its core. Two years later, the tragic memory of that night has faded, until Gavin Brady, an ambitious young civil attorney, inadvertently receives a secret internal memo that stirs up puzzling questions about the original criminal trial. Gavin’s discovery threatens not only to re-open old wounds in the community, but expose a cover-up between the D.A.'s office and the police department. The more Gavin digs into the past, the more perilous his own present becomes. Even his firm bows to the political pressure, and turns against him. Gavin’s pursuit turns into a fight for survival, blurring line between justice and greed.
How did you research the facts of the case for your book?
I did quite a bit of research on the Samoan culture, the language, and some of the history of the area for the book. I was pretty familiar with the facts already since it was based on my personal experiences.
What was your best source for information?
The legal and philosophical dilemmas dealt with in the book are based on real legal issues. Some are taught in law school and some, I've faced and put into the book.
How long did it take you to write A Cry for Justice? What was the editing process like?
The writing stage of the book went fairly quickly. I had a full first draft in about eight months. It's the editing process that takes some time. I probably edited five or six drafts before shopping it around to publishers. Once I had a publisher, that process took another six months to finalize editing. The hardest part was cutting the last forty pages from the book. There are still portions of the story I wish were included, but that's the publishing business.
Once the book and edits were complete, how long did it take before you had the published book in your hands?
Once the book was accepted and the editing process was complete, the publisher worked with me on cover designs and blurbs. Many folks are probably unaware that it's another whole process just getting the marketing and design together. I had to solicit friends, colleagues, and fellow writers to preview the book and write honest reviews for the jacket. Then I had to focus on the design of the outer jacket. It was probably only a few months, but it felt like a year. That part of the writing process isn't my favorite so I just moved along as needed. Once that was finalized, the publisher decides on a release date that is favorable to the genre. In my case, that meant waiting another few months before the release actually happened.
With your busy schedule, how and when do you find time to write?
Writing for me is a way to relax and unwind. I usually write early in the morning or sometimes late at night. When I'm working on a specific project, I purposely schedule time to write. Otherwise, it's easy to allow life to get in the way.
Do you have a favorite author who inspired you to write?
I don't have a particular favorite author. I grew up reading Hemingway and Faulkner. I also read the Columbian author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the German authors, Friedrich Schiller, and Johann von Goethe. I'm pretty eclectic when it comes to authors and I like the different styles so there isn't one who stands out over another.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Authors and writers are quirky by nature. I think one has to be in order to enjoy such a solitary and, oftentimes, frustrating task. I know of authors who write entirely by hand and then have the manuscript transcribed. I know there are authors who feel they need to "live" the experiences of their characters in order to bring them to life on the page. I'm not sure I have a quirk that would stand out over others. I do tend to write very early in the morning. That's about as quirky as I probably get.
Do you have any new books on the horizon and if so, can you share a tidbit?
I do have two books in the editing stages. Bonds of Friendship is a thriller/mystery and The Broken Shell is a memoir of my teenage years, living in a trailer park in the deep South. Bonds doesn't focus as much on the legal side of life and is more raw and gritty than my first book. It opens with the protagonist waking up to his living room filled with police detectives. He's quickly led down a corridor to reveal the blood soaked body of his girlfriend. It sounds like a straightforward crime case until the mayor and police chief are pulled into it and ultimately pitted against each other. Intro a syndicate hitman and there's your tease. The other book is more personal. It chronicles my time in Mississippi living with my mom on the outskirts of a small Delta town and how that experience in many ways molded me into the person I am today.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Advice - write, write, write. When you don't feel like writing, write anyway. The most important piece of advice I can give is to not listen to those who tell you it's too hard or there's no future in it. Most writers commit to the long solitary hours in front of a computer screen because they have a story to tell. You never write for the masses. You write for yourself and that's good enough.
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