How do you…?
Stop right there. This is, hands-down, the most-asked question I get. Although I’m three-quarters Irish, my last name is French. It’s pronounced “less-kwah” (the opposite of more-kwah) and, of course, was my father’s last name.
In what order were your books published?
You can check the Books page or: Sunburn (1981), Son of Holmes (1986), and Rasputin’s Revenge (1987). The Dismas Hardy group of books began with Dead Irish (1989), and continued with The Vig (1990), Hard Evidence (1993), The 13th Juror (1994), A Certain Justice (1995), Guilt (1997), The Mercy Rule (1998), Nothing But the Truth (1999), The Hearing (2001), The Oath (2002), The First Law (2003), The Second Chair (2004), The Motive (2005), The Hunt Club (2006), The Suspect (2007), Betrayal (2008), Treasure Hunt (2009), Damage (2010), The Hunter (2011), The Ophelia Cut (2014), The Keeper (2014), The Fall (2015), Fatal (2017).
Why do I feel like I read A Certain Justice and Guilt out of order, even though by looking at the published date I can see that I didn’t?
I wrote A Certain Justice first and in the course of writing it came up with Wes Farrell’s account of this trial he’d done that made him lose faith in the law. So when I finished that book, I decided to go both backwards and forwards and tell the whole story of Mark Dooher in Guilt. In a real sense, Guilt is both a prequel and sequel to A Certain Justice. The events of A Certain Justice happen chronologically between Parts IV and V of Guilt.
In what countries are your books published?
John’s bestselling books are printed in 16 languages and published in more than 75 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, South America, Sweden, Turkey, United States and United Kingdom.
Where did you go to law school?
I didn’t. I graduated from Cal Berkeley with a degree in English Literature. I get my legal whatever-it-is from practicing lawyers, most notably my great friend Al Giannini, whom I’ve known since we were fourteen years old, and who has been a violent crimes prosecutor in the Bay Area for years.
I heard you are also a musician. What’s up with that? Are you still making music?
As a matter of fact, music is still a big part of my life, so much so that about five years ago I formed a record label, CrowArt Records.
The first project on CrowArt Records was a CD of original piano solos, the melodies written by me and performed by master pianist (regularly working at the Bel Air Hotel) Antonio Castillo de la Gala, entitled Date Night. Fans of Dismas Hardy will know that Diz and Frannie set aside every Wednesday night for some time alone together—it’s their date night. And this CD celebrates the elegance and romance of San Francisco at the turn of the millennium.
There are now several CDs available from CrowArt Records, the most recent being “Whiskey and Roses” which, as the name more or less implies, is a bunch of original country and western tunes, produced by Doug Chancellor, me, and Richard Montgomery (former guitarist for the David Grisman quintet). This CD features my “roots” pretty prominently, with a lot of songs from the Johnny Capo era and several new ones as well. I invite you to give a listen to tracks from this CD as well as all of the others (including the brilliant multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven and mind-blowing saxophonist Heath Walton) on the music side of my website. I hope you find there’s a lot to like.
Where does the name “Dismas” come from?
I was raised Roman Catholic. In the pantheon of saints in that religion, Saint Dismas is the “good thief” on Calvary, who was crucified next to Jesus. He is the patron saint of thieves and murderers.
Do you ever share recipes for food cooked by characters in the books?
We just added this section to the website! Some of Dismas’s magical black frying pan recipes will be coming soon… For now, Andrea’s Peasant-Style Spaghetti Carbonara from The Hunt Club is online. Check back… there’s more to come!
How do I find a hardcover copy of Sunburn? What about Son of Holmes and Rasputin’s Revenge?
Sunburn was never published in hardcover. Presently, it is simply out of print, and extremely rare. I understand there are a few online booksellers that have it, but it’s going in paperback for, literally, hundred of dollars per copy, and that’s just too much. There is talk afoot that this book may be re-released in the next year or so in a quality trade paperback edition, which I think would be very cool. When and if this develops, I’ll update the website and keep readers informed.
I bought Hard Evidence in paperback recently, but feel like I’ve read it before. Why is that?
Hard Evidence was RE-released in paperback in June 2002. Sorry for the confusion. It was originally published in 1993, and is the first of the Dismas Hardy trial books.
In the first two books of the series, Dead Irish and The Vig, I had no idea that I was starting to write a series, and in those books, Dismas Hardy worked as a bartender at the Little Shamrock in San Francisco, a very real bar founded in 1893 where I had once bartended myself. When we first meet Hardy in Dead Irish, he is 38 years old, “divorced, an ex-marine, ex-cop, ex-attorney. He’d even, for a time, been a father.”
Hard Evidence marks the beginning of the “courtroom” books, and the Hardy we meet in these pages is basically the man as we know him through the rest of the series.
I would love to see one of your books made into a movie. Are there any plans, and who do you see playing the lead roles?
As to the movies, I’m represented in Los Angeles, but none of my books has yet to make the complete journey from page to screen. That, as they say, is show-biz. My own choices for the gang include Dennis Quaid as Diz and Delroy Lindo as Abe but that’s about as far as I’ve taken it.
Would you be willing to list some of your favorite books by other authors?
I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, and have several favorites. I’ll list my top picks in fiction below, both in my genre and outside it. I read tons of non-fiction as well, but that’s for another day.
Mystery and Thriller (in no particular order)
The First Deadly Sin (Lawrence Sanders)
Presumed Innocent (Scott Turow)
Innocent Blood (P.D. James)
Free Fall in Crimson (John D. MacDonald)
The Chill (Ross McDonald)
Small Town (Lawrence Block)
Degree of Guilt (Richard North Patterson)
When the Bough Breaks (Jon Kellerman)
Laguna Heat (T. Jefferson Parker)
Power Curve (Richard Herman)
Cat Chaser and Be Cool (Elmore Leonard) (okay, that’s two)
Snow Falling on Cedars (David Guterson)
Compelling Evidence (Steve Martini)
The Gold Coast (Nelson DeMille)
For Whom The Bell Tolls (Hemingway)
The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
War and Peace (Tolstoy)
The Alexandrian Quartet—Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, and Clea (Lawrence Durrell) (Taken as one book)
Voyage (Sterling Hayden)
All of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series (22 books)
Bloody Season (Loren Estleman)
The Debt to Pleasure (John Lanchester)
The Plague (Albert Camus)
Paris Trout (Pete Dexter)
Jackson (Max Byrd)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (John Fowles)
The World According to Garp (John Irving)