When James Salisbury, the owner of a British car manufacturer, ploughs his ‘self-drive’ car into a young family, the consequences are deadly. Will the car’s ‘black box’ reveal what really happened or will the industry, poised to launch these products to an eager public, close ranks to cover things up?
James himself faces a personal dilemma. If it is proved that he was driving the car he may go to prison. But if he is found innocent, and the autonomous car is to blame, the business he has spent most of his life building, and his dream of safer transport for all, may collapse.
Lawyers Judith Burton and Constance Lamb team up once again, this time to defend a man who may not want to go free, in a case that asks difficult questions about the speed at which technology is taking over our lives.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I write at home. We have a small office tucked away downstairs, with frosted glass on the windows. I sit there surrounded by piles of papers and books, unable to be distracted (at least in theory) and work at a PC. If I have the luxury of a clear day, then I just start as early as possible in the morning and keep going as long as I can.
Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really. I just try to get words down on the virtual page, even if they will be heavily edited (by me) later on. And I have a small Pinocchio wooden puppet, which a friend bought me a couple of years back (when I launched The Pinocchio Brief), so he sits nearby and offers tips and inspiration.
Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
It’s always been milky coffee and biscuits, with the healthy snack option (carrot sticks) in reserve. I particularly like McVities chocolate hobnobs.
What is your favourite book?
That is soooo hard. But I never tire of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, brimming with injustice and innocence. And if I’m allowed a favourite (older) childhood read it was definitely The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, featuring the feisty, non-conformist Maggie Tulliver.
Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I have lots of ideas for stories to write and I can see that they may not all fit the crime fiction genre. But I think there will always be a ‘twist’ in there somewhere. That reflects the stories I like to read too.
Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
The safest answer to that question is clearly ‘no’ but I often use things I overhear people saying or I repeat their favourite expressions. Constance and Judith, my legal duo, are very much a reflection of the many shrewd, smart and sparky women I have worked with over the years, from whom I have learned so much.
Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I have a book by my bed and frequently scribble things down in the early hours (only to find them difficult to decipher in the morning). It’s a really lovely Smythson notebook, given to me by my colleagues on finishing a contract for legal work, ahead of the publication of my first novel.
Which genre do you not like at all?
I’d have to say horror, purely because I get so scared when I read most horror books.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Co-writing would be VERY difficult for me as I am a perfectionist and I like things done my way (there I’ve said it). Even if the other person was a fabulous writer, I imagine we might just possibly fall out. Having said that, I would have liked to write something with my dad but, sadly, he died thirty years ago. I have recently been enjoying myself decoding some plays and poems he wrote in his inimitable, flamboyant style (he was an English teacher) when he was a young man. It would have been a nice father/daughter experience.
If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Maybe Chile? I travelled through for around a month as a student, but I was constantly moving around. My memory is of a beautiful country of tremendous contrasts, both in terms of the scenery (volcanoes and glaciers in the south, desert in the north) and the population and it has a fascinating history. There must be so many hidden places where crimes could go undetected and criminals could hide.
Thank you, Abi Silver and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Yorkshire-bred, Abi Silver is a lawyer by profession. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and three sons. Her first courtroom thriller featuring the legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb, The Pinocchio Brief, was published by Lightning Books in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. Her follow-up The Aladdin Trial, featuring the same legal team, was published in 2018.
Read more about Abi and her work at www.abisilver.co.uk .
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