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John Clemens: Tell us about the introduction and the character of Gina. Is there a Gina in your life?
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, well Gina Romano was a composite I think of some of the best female trial lawyers that I’ve worked against and with. A female trial lawyer in this business is very difficult for them to get where they need to go. Many of them have far more talent than some of the male trial lawyers that receive all the accolades. It’s been difficult for them to break into this business and it takes that Gina Romano kind of personality and focus and tenacity to really accomplish what needs to be accomplished as a very successful female trial lawyer.
I’ve had the benefit of … All I do is my discipline is I’m a trial lawyer. I try cases for other lawyers throughout the country. I try the most complex cases in the country, and so I’m able to work across the table with some of these incredibly talented female trial lawyers. She’s kind of a composite of all that.
John Clemens: Tell us, if you would, what is your thought on why you have such … The novels have done so well. You obviously have touched a nerve, a desire for the American reading public to read your material. What’s your success?
Mike Papantonio: I think it’s a voyeurism to some degree. I know the first time I picked up a Grisham novel. I was so captivated by kind of the look behind the curtain. It’s like you lift this big curtain and you see stuff that you ordinarily wouldn’t see. I think that’s the appeal here. When I look at the reviews, when I talk to people that have read the book and I try to be as objective as I can. I try to say, “What is it that really attracted them?”
John, people have a real interest. They have kind of a voyeur’s interest, both in the medical profession and in the legal profession. It’s natural because there’s so much conflict and there’s so much drama that takes place. Many times that conflict, that drama, has effected their lives. It’s effected their child or their spouse or somebody in their family.
These types of novels, I think, touch a lot of that because they either can see themselves in a similar situation or they, in fact, have been in a similar situation. I think it’s that ability to relate and understand that this is the real thing. It’s not something that is just holy imaginary. It actually comes from real life experience. I think they connect with that.