Case Closed – A Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge turns Author
The following is a guest post by Leora Krygier. Her bio follows.
I was a Juvenile Court judge for more than twenty years. It was the best job I ever had and not only because people addressed me as “your honor,” (which, in full disclosure, I have to admit was pretty awesome) but because it gave me the ability to affect teens and families who were in crisis. It also helped make me a better writer.
I loved being eyeball to eyeball with kids, listening to their stories and finding the right solutions for those individuals, their families and the community. I liked being the middleman, not an advocate for either side, but taking in the information and the circumstances and then extrapolating the meaningful core from arguments, trying to come up with a constructive, win-win solution for all.
The Journey Begins
While I worked my day job, I started writing novels – grabbing a few minutes here and there during a recess, as well as writing in the early mornings and late nights. I’d always wanted to be a writer, and although law school was a good training ground for writing briefs and for honing language and accuracy, I found myself most connecting with the “Background” section of a legal brief much more than the legal arguments that ensued because that’s where the heart of the “story” lived. I think I started writing novels because the elements of story, character and humanity that I wanted to explore more deeply were missing from my work life.
I was lucky enough to publish my first three books while I was a working girl. Keep Her is the first novel I wrote post-court and with the leisure of more writing time.
I learned some very important lessons on the bench. One of those lessons was that there is never one absolute truth to any situation. The truth is colored with bias, conjecture, subjective memory, perception and a whole lot more. In one case, for example, a witness’ view of a car accident as to who was at fault and whether the light was red, completely contradicted another, who saw the light as yellow. In another case, one security guard’s testimony about what who he saw shoplifting didn’t at all match the testimony of a second security guard, both only a few feet away from the theft.
Understanding this part of human nature made me a better judge and a better writer. As a writer, I use the fact that we each see ourselves, the world and the important events in our life in differing ways. This is what makes for interesting, multi-layered and flawed characters.
Also, as a judge, it was important to hear and weigh “both sides of the story.” This too contributed to my journey as a writer. A story can be told from so many points of view, depending on who is telling it and at what point in time they are telling it. I’m sure that this influenced me to write novels that often include different points of view as well as multiple “voices.”
Being a judge was a unique opportunity. I saw people at their very worst but also at their very best. It gave me great insight and empathy for people, their situations and the stories they shared with me. Now that I’m no longer a judge, but a full-time author, there’s something even more awesome for me to experience – to be able to reinvent that time of my life on the bench into my own stories.
About Leora Krygier
I’m the author of “When She Sleeps” (Toby Press) a New York Public Library Selection for “Best Books for the Teen Age.” I’m also a former Los Angeles Juvenile Court judge, and the author of “Juvenile Court – A Judge’s Guide for Young Adults and their Parents” (Scarecrow Press)
But besides all that, I’ve lived in the heart of Paris and in a teeny apartment overlooking the town of Saint Tropez in the South of France. I now live in Los Angeles with my amazing husband, David.
I love the beach, dogs, chocolate, hiking the Santa Monica Mountain trails, and making my friends stop for me when I see a photograph I absolutely have to take. (In full disclosure, they usually don’t stop and end up one block ahead of me, but that’s okay)
I loved writing “Keep Her.” Maddie is a little bit like me (sometimes) But her journey took some unexpected turns, and that’s the fun of it.