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Q & A for Authors > Q & A with Author Michael Rubin

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Burton | 2684 comments I would like to introduce Michael Rubin author of, The Cottoncrest Curse. He will be taking your questions about himself and his new legal thriller.

Below, you will find a little about Michael and his new book.


message 2: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments I'm looking forward to answering your questions.

I was recently at ThrillerFest in New York (www.thrillerfest.com); it was great connecting with fans, aspiring writers, and the other thriller authors who were present, like Scott Turow and Nelson DeMille. The questions that were asked during the panel discussions were thought-provoking, and I know I'm going to enjoy this Q&A as much as the panels at ThrillerFest.



The Cottoncrest Curse
The Cottoncrest Curse by Michael H. Rubin


message 3: by Michael (last edited Aug 13, 2015 03:11PM) (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments Here's a bit of information about both me and "The Cottoncrest Curse."

I’ve been a professional jazz pianist in the New Orleans French Quarter and a radio and television announcer. I live in Louisiana, practice law full time, and am one of the managing partners of a multi-state law firm, and also is an adjunct law professor.

At the annual meeting of the American Library Association held in San Francisco this summer, "The Cottoncrest Curse" received the coveted IndieFab Gold Award as the best thriller and suspense novel published by a university or independent press in 2014.

“The Cottoncrest Curse,” has been praised by Publishers Weekly as “gripping,” by the Chicago CBA Record as “masterful,” and by James Carville as “impeccably researched, deftly plotted, and flawlessly executed.”

In the novel, a series of gruesome deaths ignite feuds that burn a path from the cotton fields to the courthouse steps, from the moss-draped bayous of Cajun country to the bordellos of 19th century New Orleans, from the Civil War era to the Civil Rights era, from the infamous separate-but-equal case of Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education, across the Jim Crow decades to the Freedom Marches of the 1960s and on into the present.

At the heart of the story is the apparent suicide of an elderly Confederate Colonel who, two decades after the end of the Civil War, viciously slit the throat of his beautiful young wife and then fatally shot himself. Sheriff Raifer Jackson, however, believes that this may be a double homicide, and suspicion falls upon Jake Gold, an itinerant peddler who trades razor-sharp knives for fur and who has many deep secrets to conceal.

Legal issues form key plot points in the novel.

The Cottoncrest Curse The Cottoncrest Curse by Michael H. Rubin


REMEMBER UKRAINE NOW ReadingReindeer (readingreindeerproximacentauri) It sounds amazing! I love the historical context--makes this a must-read.


message 5: by Michael (last edited Aug 13, 2015 04:00PM) (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments Thanks, Mallory. Because this was published by a university press, the history in it was vetted by historians. The murders are fictional, but the historical aspects of the novel are accurate.

Hope you enjoy the book!


message 6: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Michael, I would love to read this, especially since is fiction with historical elements.


message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments Thanks, Skye. I would welcome your thoughts on the "The Cottoncrest Curse" after you've had a chance to read it and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about the novel.


message 8: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Indeed, Michael.


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael Burton | 2684 comments Hi Michael,

I have two questions for you:

1. How much of your personal experiences and legal work did you put into the novel?


2. What is the best advice you've received as an author?


message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments I’ll be happy to address both of these questions.

1. How much of your personal experiences and legal work did you put into the novel?

The protagonist, itinerant peddler Jake Gold, was inspired by my great-grandfather, a Russian immigrant whose parents sent him away at the age of twelve to escape both pogroms and being forcibly conscripted into the Russian army for 25 years. My grandfather made it across Europe to America and started life here as an itinerant peddler, eventually settling in Louisiana. Jake Gold’s adventures, however, are not those of my great-grandfather. Jake is a purely fictional character, but many of scenes and conflicts depicted in the novel are firmly based on actual historical events.

My legal training was invaluable in incorporating the legal themes into the novel, including the infamous “separate-but-equal” case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which arose from a ride on train leaving from New Orleans in the 1890s.

2. What is the best advice you've received as an author?

After the publication of “The Cottoncrest Curse,” I’ve had the privilege of attending and participating in a number of conferences for fans of thrillers and the authors of thrillers, including Deadly Ink in New Jersey, Bouchercon in California, and ThrillerFest in New York.

All the lawyer-authors of thrillers with whom I’ve spoken agree on three things. The first is to write and keep writing. It is important to get the story down on paper; you can refine it later. The second is to finish what you start. Don’t give up halfway. Complete the manuscript so that you have your entire storyline down. Third, the most important aspect of being a successful author is to acknowledge that the hardest work comes in editing and re-editing, eliminating everything that is unnecessary to the story or slows down the pace. They all maintain that they found their literary “voice,” the distinctive style that each has that draws readers in, through the process of editing their manuscripts.

The Cottoncrest Curse The Cottoncrest Curse by Michael H. Rubin


message 11: by Skye (last edited Aug 14, 2015 12:47PM) (new)

Skye | 325 comments I am impressed, Michael, and yes, I agree with your last paragraph. However, I think 'voice' emerges as a mystical part of the journey. It can make or break an author.


message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments Skye:

You're right in that that the "voice" of the author is determinative. What gives us as readers enjoyment in reading the novel is not merely the plot and characters, but, most importantly, the unique style that the author brings in telling the story.


message 13: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Michael, I can dislike the plot, the settings and most of the characters, but I can become enchanted with voice/tone.


message 14: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments A reader has emailed a question that I’m happy to post and answer.

The question was whether my legal career as a litigator has helped me in writing a thriller novel.

The answer is a definite “yes.”

Litigators know that, in a jury trial, the opening statement is crucial. That’s helped me a as a novelist – grabbing readers right from the start. No excess verbiage. No useless information. Draw readers in and make them want to turn the page to find out what happens next.

Second, litigators learn to boil things down to essentials so that the jury understands the gist of the case from the very first. As a writer, I try to do that in “The Cottoncrest Curse.”

Third, being persuasive in court requires using precise facts and effective communication. The same goes for writing a novel. Novelists avoid trite adjectives and search hard for exactly the right word instead of settling for a word that is merely adequate. Mark Twain said it best: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

The Cottoncrest Curse by Michael H. Rubin
The Cottoncrest Curse


message 15: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments Great answer, Michael.


message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments Another reader has sent a question: “Is it true, as your the novel suggests, that the ‘separate-but-equal’ segregation rule began as a test case to vindicate the rights of African Americans?”

The answer is “yes.”

Louis Martinet, an African-American lawyers in New Orleans, worked with others to devise a test case in the 1890s to put the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment into effect. Homer Plessy was recruited for the task of boarding a train bound from New Orleans and integrating the “whites-only” railway car.

The briefs filed by Martinet and others made all the appropriate arguments, but both the Louisiana Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld segregation in the case - - Plessy v. Ferguson, leading to the infamous “separate but equal” doctrine.

Both Louis Martinet and Homer Plessy are characters in “The Cottoncrest Curse.”

To find out more: http://amzn.to/1hGwsnt

The Cottoncrest Curse by Michael H. Rubin


message 17: by Skye (new)

Skye | 325 comments This book sounds very interesting, Michael. I am sorry I didn't know about it in advance.


message 18: by Michael (new)

Michael Burton | 2684 comments Michael wrote: "A reader has emailed a question that I’m happy to post and answer.

The question was whether my legal career as a litigator has helped me in writing a thriller novel.

The answer is a definite “y..."



Hi Michael,

Thanks so much for the great answer to this question. I'm a big fan of getting to the point and not of too much "fluff". It is so important to keep the readers attention and you touch upon how to do that...the wording has to be just right.

I look forward to reading your book.

By the way, is this your only work?


message 19: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments Thanks for the question. Book #2 is in the works. I'll let everyone know when it is out!


message 20: by Jerri (new)

Jerri Blair (jerriblair) | 2465 comments Hi, Michael, I'm a retired trial lawyer, and I agree with you that my training and experience as an attorney has helped me immensely in giving me the tools to allow my "voice" to come through in my stories. Also, like you, my characters are imbued with the reality of people I've known in my life, even though they're fictional. I haven't yet read your book, but I want to do so in the near future. It sounds like you enjoy depicting the impact of the judicial system on real life injustice. I have a more philosophical question for you. I know as an attorney, you can have a very real impact on furthering the concept of justice in the world. Can that same kind of impact occur through a novel?


message 21: by Michael (new)

Michael Rubin | 12 comments Thanks, Jerri, for the query.

I don't doubt for a minute that novels can have an impact on furthering the concept of justice.

There are many examples of novels that have had a continuing impact on society by imparting an important look a justice (or illustrating injustice and spurring society on to action). A few examples: "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Native Son," "In Cold Blood" (a combination "truth" wrapped in the nature of a compelling story); Dickens' "Bleak House," and Camus' "The Stranger." Also see "Gideon's Trumpet," which is not fiction but which had real impact.


message 22: by Jerri (new)

Jerri Blair (jerriblair) | 2465 comments You give me confidence in my own feelings that the work we do through the written word can have positive impact in the world.


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