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Author John Lescroart makes virtual visit to Brawley library

May 13, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Legal thriller author John Lescroart paid a visit to the library here Friday evening and talked about his life and books, and took questions.

Oh, his visit was actually a virtual one, that is, via real time videoconference.

Davis resident Lescroart was actually at the public library in Woodland being interviewed as part of the video author program offered by the Los Angeles-based California Center for the Book.

Wearing green chinos and a black shirt with tropical drink motif, the balding, mustachioed, bearded and bespectacled Lescroart (pronounced Less-kwah) said he became a writer overnight because he lost his legal clerk job at a law office after contracting spinal meningitis at Seal Beach. He was in a coma for 11 days and was not expected to survive.

After recovering he decided to write full time. He said that unlike other artists he did not have an unhappy childhood, though as lead character for his books he chose someone with "a ton of baggage." The character, Dismas Hardy, is an ex-cop, an ex-father, an ex-husband and an ex-attorney.


"So, when we meet him, he's really at the bottom; who by the end of the book has been redeemed," Lescroart said.

Lescroart's latest book is "The Hearing," a legal thriller.

Lescroart was asked why race plays such an important role in his books. He said it is because he grew up to the age of 12 in Houston where there was still segregation, though his parents were from the east side of Brooklyn and were not prejudiced. In fact, Lescroart said his first job was setting pins at a black bowling alley in the black neighborhood in which he lived.

Lescroart was asked what his strengths are as a writer.

He said he has a pretty good sense of humor, a strong narrative voice that includes good grammar, an adult voice, good dialogue and realistic scenes that make his books easy to follow.

Lescroart offers the following advice, found on his Web site: "This is the only life you have. Get out there and live it. It's not dress rehearsal. If you have a dream, and you're going for something you truly believe in, the only way is to pursue it in spite of all the other excuses you can find. As soon as I defined myself as a writer, everything fell into place."

A handful of people attended the videoconference event here.

El Centro resident Cynthia Dagnino said the videoconference was entertaining.

"I found out about an author I've never read a book of, and now I'm interested in doing that," she said, adding that she will read his latest. "I read the book cover and it sounded really interesting."

Dagnino described Lescroart as animated, entertaining, quirky and "good on his feet."

Also attending was El Centro resident Tom Barrington, a deputy county counsel, who was asked what he thought of Lescroart's legal writing.

"The program was actually pretty good," Barrington said. "He's an interesting individual and seemed to be pretty candid about things."

Barrington said the one Lescroart book he's read, "Guilt," is less ludicrous than those by other authors when it comes to accuracy about the legal profession.

"It's actually pretty good," Barrington said, adding he will read Lescroart's early tomes.

Brawley library assistant director Connie Barrington said the purpose of the videoconference program is to allow a rural community to have access to and discuss questions with best-selling authors.

Other authors who have participated in videoconferences include Mary Higgins Clark, David Macaulay and Sidney Sheldon.

Other videoconferencing facilities include the Imperial County Office of Education, Imperial Valley College and the Brawley Elementary School District.

Besides best-selling authors, the facility was recently used to present information on investment opportunities for women, titled "Chicks laying nest eggs." It also allows for the broadcast of topics of interest locally, thus precluding the need to travel to the event.

Connie Barrington said she hopes a cadre of interested individuals will become involved in the events.

The California Center for the Book vision is to promote reading, to improve literacy levels in California, to encourage the study of the book, book arts and printing, and to celebrate the book.


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Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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