Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Allison Leotta

Allison Leotta is a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C. She has been a federal prosecutor for ten years. Like the heroine in Law of Attraction, her debut legal thriller, Leotta started out in the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases. She now handles the most serious sex crimes in D.C. Allison is a graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School.

A couple of weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
It’s embarrassing to admit this as a thriller writer, but I put down the top thriller of our time to read a non-fiction book about the 2008 presidential race.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is pretty much required reading for folks in my profession, and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. I was about 75 pages into Dragon Tattoo, when I casually picked up Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. My husband had the political tome sitting innocently enough on our dresser. I flipped to the first page. It starts: “Barack Obama jerked bolt upright in bed at three o’clock in the morning.”

I was hooked.

I’ve heard that you can become addicted to crack after trying it just one time. For me, Game Change was like that. I’ve been taking hits whenever I can. Babies are napping? Read a few pages. Going to the bathroom? Read a few pages. Waiting for the finicky computer to reboot? Read a few pages. Luckily, the stuff is free, otherwise I might’ve re-mortgaged my house to get a few more hits.

I’m rationalizing my addiction as research. I’m a sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and my own legal thriller, Law of Attraction is about love and violence in this city. My next book will be about a political sex scandal in the nation’s capital. Surely this political story is research?

But – no. If I’m being honest, I will admit I’m just reading it because it’s a great story.

Game Change takes a behind-the-scenes look at the last presidential election. The authors somehow interviewed everyone involved and wrote it all up in an addictive tell-all / political commentary / thriller narrative. The tone is somewhere between The New York Times and The National Enquirer. We all know the ending, of course, but I still can’t wait to hear what happens next. Some of the stories – especially about the candidates’ marriages – are so intimate and embarrassing, I feel like I should take a shower after reading them. But there’s also a glimpse behind the curtain of political showmanship, to the hearts of the players involved, that is simply breathtaking. It has made me watch CNN with a new perspective.

I’m almost done with the book. I’ll miss the story, but, unlike finishing a novel, I know I’ll still be able to follow the characters – on the nightly news.

Afterwards, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with Stieg.
Visit Allison Leotta's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue