On Saturday, my crime fiction life collided with my academic career at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities. I organized a panel of law professors who have also published crime novels. Unfortunately, Kermit Roosevelt was unable to make it because of an injury, but Mimi Wesson, Lori Andrews, and I had a great time, first at lunch together and then on our panel.
Mimi (U of Colorado) talked about her current work in progress, a novel inspired by the famous case of Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Hillmon. Among lawyers, the case is known for creating the “state of mind” exception to the evidentiary bar against hearsay. However, Mimi has been quite busy exploring the facts underlying the case, a story of murder, fraud, and mistaken identities. She even went so far as to exhume the body at the center of the case! The book sounds fascinating, so I want her to finish it quickly so I can read it soon.
I was utterly rivited by Lori Andrews’ (Chicago-Kent) discussion of the relationship between her Alexandra Blake series and her expertise in genetics and the law. Lori wrote ten non-fiction books on biogenetics prior to her first novel and was such an established name in her field that the White House called her for a legal opinion about human cloning after scientists first cloned Dolly the sheep.
I also admire the way that both Lori and Mimi have seamlessly and unapologetically integrated their lives as academics and novelists. I tend to bifurcate them, finding myself reluctant, for example, to talk about my fiction with academic colleagues. This was the first time I’d spoken about my books to an academic audience, but, thanks to the people who showed up, and to my admiration for both Lori and Mimi, it hopefully will not be the last.