Simon Tolkien was born in England in 1959 and grew up in a small village near Oxford. His grandfather was J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of The Rings. He studied Modern History at Trinity College, Oxford and then went on to become a successful barrister specializing in criminal justice, and, according to British custom, he appeared on behalf of both the prosecution and the defense. He now lives with his wife and two children in Southern California.
Tolkien's first novel, Final Witness, was published by Random House in 2002 and has been translated into eight languages. His second novel, The Inheritance, was published by Minotaur Books in April 2010 and was followed by The King of Diamonds a year later. All Tolkien's novels are published by Harpercollins in the UK. Although he has always admired his grandfather's books, Tolkien's own writing draws more heavily from his experiences as a trial lawyer and his abiding interest in modern European history and the Second World War in particular.
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An Interview with Simon Tolkein
It seems that it might be difficult to write from a fictional,
outside perspective on your own profession. Did you find it challenging to not
unconsciously revert back into your professional mindset or "role" of a
barrister while writing this novel? Any surprises in the way being a lawyer
affected your persona as author?
An important challenge for me in writing courtroom drama is to know what to leave out. Parts of the trial process are obviously boring and yet the reader must have the illusion that he is seeing everything. With Final Witness,I tried never to lose sight of the fact that I was writing a story which is only partly told through the courtroom medium. I cut the trial scenes with flashbacks seen through the eyes of the main protagonists, and with action outside the court so that the legal drama never became monotonous. Being a criminal lawyer helped me enormously, but only so long as I treated my inside knowledge of the courts as a writing tool rather than an end in itself.
Of course, almost all reviewers have mentioned your grandfather, J.R.R. Tolkien. You must have known that that was going to be a big topic of interest to a lot of people. How did you prepare ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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