As an assistant district attorney, William Landay was used to the ins and outs of the courtroom and the legal system.
So, when the lawyer decided about 20 years ago to try his hand at writing a novel, it was pretty good move to write from an angle that he knew — law.
“I never set out to become a novelist,” Landay wrote in an email. “I’m not sure I thought such a thing was possible. I’d never known any novelists or artists of any kind, and I assumed they must be giants. So, over the course of the ’90s, I tried to churn out a single decent novel.”
While his first attempts at a manuscript were “very bad,” he says, “slowly, over time, I learned a little about how to do this.”
“I say ‘a little’ because I don’t think you ever master novel-writing,” Landay wrote. “It is always a struggle, always a challenge. Even now, 20-plus years later, I still feel like an absolute beginner every time.”
His readers may be surprised to hear it. Landay, after all, is doing something right.
His latest novel, “Defending Jacob,” was named one of the top books for 2012. His debut novel, “Mission Flats,” won the Dagger Award for the best debut crime novel of 2003. His other book, “The Strangler,” was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award as best crime novel of 2007.
The Boston author, who is currently working on his fourth crime novel, is among the many authors, writers and poets set to visit the city at the end of the month for the Newburyport Literary Festival.
Landay will be reading from “Defending Jacob” during the April 27 events. The bestselling novel follows the story of the Barber family, who lives in suburban Massachusetts. Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for more than two decades. When a shocking crime hits the town, it will shake the foundation of everything Andy believes.