About the Author
T.L. Bequette is a criminal defense attorney in Oakland, California. Most of his practice involves defending those accused of murder. He holds degrees from The University of the Pacific and Georgetown Law School and serves annually on faculty of the Stanford Law School Trial Advocacy Clinic. ‘Good Lookin’: A Joe Turner Mystery’ is his debut novel.
An Interview With TL Bequette
Hello TL Bequette, thank you for your time. I would like to kick off the interview by asking you to tell us how you first got in to writing?
Sure, but I have to say, it will take me a while to get use to answering to TL. My name is Todd and TL is sounding a little pretentious. But I’ve always disliked my name, so I guess this is my chance.
I’ve always loved to write creatively. As an attorney, I have plenty of opportunities to write, but creativity is generally frowned upon. You can’t make up the law, after all. So, when I finally stopped making excuses and started writing, it was a wonderful feeling—like seeing an old friend for the first time in years.
That brings us on nicely to ask about what influenced you to write your latest book Good Lookin’ – A Joe Turner Mystery?
Write what you know, I suppose. I’ve practiced criminal defense for nearly thirty years, so my job has given me quite a trove of real-life tales that are often crazier than fiction. Also, a significant part of the book follows the exploits of twin boys. As a father of teenage twins, I’ve gained some insight there as well. They would disagree, by the way.
Do you have a favorite part of your book?
Is it okay to have two? So, the first involves an abusive bully. Spoiler alert, I suppose, but let’s just say I enjoyed writing the resolution of that part of the story. Also, there is one final twist in the very last line of the book. I think it’s cool.
And your protagonist, could you please tell us a little more about them?
Joe Turner is a criminal defense attorney like me. When faced with defending a client who is actually innocent, he stresses out and drinks too much. Also, a bit like me, I suppose. Joe is also a smartass and very witty—like I would be if I could magically stop conversations and take lots of time to think of great lines.
If this or any of your other books were going to be made in to a film, who would you choose to play the lead and why?
Kyle Chandler. He’s likeable, I think.
It would be great to find out a bit more about your writing and editing process. Are you someone who has the whole story mapped out before you write the first word, or do you start your book without a plan and let your characters show you the way?
It’s sort of a hybrid for me. I certainly have the basic plot outlined before I begin, but often side plots emerge while I’m writing. Also, characters tend to develop on their own, usually drawn from combinations of people I’ve met. A big challenge for me is organization. With mysteries, I’m constantly adding clues here and there and am forever losing track of which character knows what and when.
And when you edit your manuscript, do you usually find yourself adding lots or taking much away?
I tend to add a lot throughout the editing process. For me, the re-write is always the most enjoyable. After I have the basic story written, I love fleshing out characters and adding imagery or dialogue. Once the loose ends and details are tidied up, the real fun begins. That’s when I can lose myself in the writing.
Going back to your influences, do you have a favorite genre to read in and are there any authors you can’t get enough of at the moment?
I’m a fan of mysteries and thrillers. I think Louise Penny is a wonderful writer and recently I’ve been reading a lot of Lisa Jewell. Thanks to her, lately, my writing has taken somewhat of a dark and twisted turn.
How about favorite books from your childhood?
My mom must have read Fantastic Mr. Fox to me a thousand times. I still remember being able to clearly see Dahl’s characters in my mind. Also, I’m a big sports fan, so as a kid, I read a lot of features by writers like Frank DeFord, Rick Reilly and Mitch Albom. They’re all authors who started as sports journalists, often writing humorous essays and features.
And do you find that any of these still influence you now?
Yes. I love to wedge rich imagery into my stories whenever I can. The snarky sports essays have definitely influenced me as well.
Keeping all this in mind, which author, dead or alive, would you like to go to dinner with?
I suppose Hemingway, preferably well before his suicidal depression. Two world wars, running with the bulls, his time in Cuba…that would be quite a dinner conversation.
"...when I finally stopped making excuses and started writing, it was a wonderful feeling—like seeing an old friend for the first time in years."
Do you have any advice for new/aspiring authors?
If you love to write, keep writing for the sake of writing. If the goal is to publish, then keep after it. My journey to publication has taught me that there is a lot of luck involved. Before I found an independent publisher in New York, I accumulated a massive stack of rejections, as have many writers much more talented than I. So, don’t be discouraged. Keep in mind that literary tastes are totally subjective, not to mention the absurdity of selling your book to an agent in a one-page letter. Just keep writing, pitching and rewriting.
I don’t know about you, but I love to have a wander round my local independent book shops whenever I can. Do you have any good bookshops near to you that are worth a mention or any other business or people you would like to ‘shout out’?
Yes, thanks. Shout out to Reasonable Books in Lafayette, California and Orinda Books.
Finally, are we likely to see sequels to this or any of your other books in the future?
A prequel, actually, because my son, Sam, has assured me that “America loves a prequel.” Blood Perfect is another Joe Turner Mystery, and is due out by the end of the year.
Thank you for your time!