The Whole TruthThe Whole Truth
James Scott Bell
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Desperate to keep his law firm afloat, attorney Steve Conroy has agreed to take the case of convicted criminal, Johnny LaSalle, particularly since there's a lucrative retainer connected with taking this case. After interrogating Johnny LaSalle, Steve wonders, "Could this be his long lost brother who was kidnapped at age seven from their bedroom and never found?" Is it possible to unravel the world of corruption and redeem his firm and a possible relationship with a long-lost brother?

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James Scott Bell james scott bell

Romans 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 



 Our Interview with James Scott Bell

How did you come up with the concept for The Whole Truth?

The news, specifically the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping story.  That's often how it happens for me.  I'll read or hear a news item, and then start playing the "what if" game.  Elizabeth was taken from the bedroom she shared with her sister.  I turned that around to brothers, and asked myself what the effect might be on the younger brother, who feels guilty that his older brother was taken.  That forms the prologue.

Is any part of The Whole Truth factual?

Other than the tweak of the Smart story, nothing.  As I usually do, I made it up, but drew on my legal experiences and research.

How closely is this The Whole Truth based on your life or a case you’ve had?

Nothing at all, though I based the character of Johnny LaSalle, in a small way, on a defendant I once observed in court when I was clerking for the DA's office.  He came in, hands shackled behind him, but holding a Bible.  That fascinated me.  He had piercing blue eyes and seemed like the kind of guy who could gather followers around him.  Was he a sincere believer, or a con man?

That's one of the questions in The Whole Truth.

How long did The Whole Truth take you to complete?

Most of my first drafts take about four months. T hen there is the editing process, a couple of months.  But I'm usually thinking of ideas months, sometimes years, before I start writing.

What is the symbolism for the title The Whole Truth?

There is a major puzzle in the center of the novel.  Who is Johnny LaSalle?  Is he who he says he is?  And what really happened all those years ago?  Is there something my lead character, Steve Conroy, doesn't know?  Something shattering and life changing?  Of course! This is a novel of suspense, so nothing is quite as it seems.  Will Steve ever learn the whole truth?

Do you have a favorite character in The Whole Truth? Why?

Two minor characters caught on for me.  Curls and Red.  Two retired ladies who volunteer at a county hospital, and bicker at each other in the nicest way.  I based them on my two great aunts, who lived together, and operated in exactly this fashion.

How much research did The Whole Truth take?

I'd say the "usual" amount. I did setting research, brushed up on the law, researched cult movements.


Do you prefer to write Suspense and Intrigue Legal thrillers or historical stories?

I really do like both genres.  I loved doing the Kit Shannon series and the novel Glimpses of Paradise, all which took place in L.A., my home town, about 100 years ago.  Those novels also had legal thriller aspects to them.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

We live in a visual, quick cut culture.  We writers have to be able to grab readers on page one and keep them grabbed.  And we have to deal with the fact that every week more plots, plot twists, plot ideas and plot material is paraded across TV and movies screens, and in bookstores, all over the world.  And still appear to be original.  This is not a profession for the faint of heart.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

The office hours.
Also, creating each day, which means something new is always happening . Sometimes it's like pulling hydra teeth, but at least the challenge is never exactly the same.

Is this a stand-alone book?

Yes, The Whole Truth is a stand alone novel, contemporary suspense.

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

Always.  I am working on a suspense series that began with the novel Try Dying.  I am also working on my next Zondervan suspense title.

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

Raymond Chandler. The greatest. But also many others. I'd name Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Saroyan, John D. MacDonald, and the many hands who wrote The Hardy Boys mysteries.

What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?

 Jack London, when he began his writing dream, said he wouldn't wait for inspiration. He'd go after it with a club. He set out and wrote, wrote, wrote. And learned, learned, learned. Do some part of both of those things every day. Write something and learn something (through books, writers conferences, writing groups, etc.)


What message would you like your readers to take away from The Whole Truth?

I usually leave that to the readers. But if I had to pick a word, I'd pick "hope."

Do you have any speaking engagements scheduled in the near future?

I will be teaching at a few writers conferences this year.  Mount Hermon in March and October, Philadelphia in August, Spokane and Minneapolis (for ACFW) in September, and on a Caribbean cruise in November.  Very tough duty.

What is your greatest achievement?

My family, but only in cooperation with God. I have him to thank.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To write novels readers can't put down, and along the way explore themes that are meaningful to me and, I hope, to others.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I like to travel with my wife. We like the ocean and have a few getaway spots we favor. Like Santa Barbara. I went to college there, and it's a great place to unwind. But for murder, mayhem and general crime, I always come back to L.A.


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