The books shown on the left are by Ralph Zeta. Click on the cover to order.
This interview was conducted by Douglas R. Cobb on October 27, 2011.
The author of this remarkable thriller has graciously agreed to do an interview with me. Read on, to learn more about this talented
author, and Cry for Justice.
Douglas R. Cobb: Ralph, thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me! First off, I'd like to ask you what have been some books you've been influenced by, and do you have some favorite authors you'd like to mention to our readers?
Ralph Zeta: My pleasure. There are too many books out there I’m sure influenced me even in the smallest of ways. A few that stand out are; Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Paradise Lost, The Old Man and the Sea, Divine Comedy, Don Quixote as well as more modern works such as Love in the Ruins, Cats’ Cradle, Slaughter House Five, Presumed Innocent, among others, also stand out.
Douglas R. Cobb: : I've read that you are a financial advisor and money manager, but your main character, Jason Justice, is a lawyer. What gave you the idea to write a novel about a lawyer who solves crimes?
Ralph Zeta: Great question. I think for purposes of developing the character of Jason Justice it seemed appropriate if were in a position that would naturally allow him access into the private lives of the Palm Beach society, a sort of natural and believable “gateway” to trouble, if you will. Being a divorce lawyer, I think, did this quite well.
Douglas R. Cobb: Jason Justice certainly has a jaded outlook on the institution of marriage, though he does all right with the women because he's a rich, handsome lawyer. One reason that I'm sure he has a negative attitude about marriage is because he's a divorce lawyer, and sees mainly marriages that have fallen apart. But, could you please tell our readers, Ralph, what it is about Jason's parents' marriage that also has influenced his negative opinions regarding marriage?
Ralph Zeta: It is said that we are all the product of our experiences and circumstances. Jason is certainly not an exception. The years spent bearing witness his parents’ crumbling marriage, what the acrimonious relationship did to them, the changes to their personalities, certainly had a formative effect on him. For a young Jason Justice, home became a cold stark place, an environment so toxic and so crucial that it forever shaped Jason‘s views and is the root cause of his “allergy” to marriage.
Douglas R. Cobb: Who is Amy Kelly, and why does she think that her stepfather might have killed her mother?
Ralph Zeta: Amy is the daughter of a Palm Beach socialite found dead at the bottom of the grand staircase in her waterfront mansion. As a result Amy returns home from college to discover that her family fortune has vanished along with her stepfather. Through her mother’s doctor, who happens to be Jason’s love interest, she contacts Jason and asks for his assistance in locating her missing step dad and hopefully some of the missing fortune.
Douglas R. Cobb: How does Justice first meet his girlfriend, Nora? I'm not sure if it's true or not, but I was thinking it was likely that one of the reasons you had Jason and Nora break up was because you wanted your character of Jason Justice to be, to an extent, a playboy sort of character. Is that correct?
Ralph Zeta: Jason meets Nora while visiting his father in the hospital. Nora is an oncologist. As to their breakup, yes, to a great extent I did want Jason to remain available so he could interact with the characters that he would meet down the line as he followed the missing step dad throughout the Florida peninsula.
Douglas R. Cobb: You have a good investigative kind of buddy-buddy relationship started between Justice and Special Agent Samuel Raj Desai. He's a fascinating character in his own right. Could you please mention how the two met, and some of the jobs that Sammy does for Jason?
Ralph Zeta: Jason and Sammy met long ago in his father’s place of business. Back then, Sammy was a Palm Beach Sheriff’s detective investigating a series on mini-warehouse thefts. In the story Sammy, now retired from the PBSO, is a private investigator. Sammy is Jason’s go-to man when it comes to anything related to investigations required by some of the high-profile cases he often litigates.
Douglas R. Cobb: What are Sammy's feelings about Jason's romantic relationship with Nora and why?
Ralph Zeta: Sammy is a devout Christian and as such doesn’t approve of what he refers to as Jason’s life of unabashed promiscuity. He likes Nora and believes Jason should give up his current lifestyle and settle down with her.
Douglas R. Cobb: Ralph, what did Amy's father do that landed him in prison, and why is she so confident he was telling her the truth about the tapestry she wants Jason to recover?
Ralph Zeta: Amy’s dad was the Bernie Madoff of his time. He was tried and convicted in the largest financial crime in US history in 1988. His crimes notwithstanding, Amy firmly believes his father’s words. It was a promise he made to her. As far as Amy is concerned, her father never failed to deliver on a promise to her. She doesn’t see any reason to doubt her father’s promise now.
Douglas R. Cobb: What is it that you mean by a refrain you repeat every once in a while: "There are no victims"?
Ralph Zeta: The saying goes, “There are no victims. Just willing participants.” The adage reminds us that, more often than not, when we consider something to be too good to be true, heed the warning, to take another look, because when we don’t, when we fail to act upon those subtle but very real warning signs, we are not just victims, we take the role of a passive participant in the deception.
Douglas R. Cobb: I just have a couple more questions for you, Ralph! First, could you please tell our readers what a drug called "burundanga" is, and to what use Jason and Sammy put it? Where did Jason learn his interrogation techniques, and did you do quite a lot of research to make the interrogation scenes convincing?
Ralph Zeta: Burundanga is the street name for Scopolamine. Burundanga, also considered a “date rape” drug, is another memory-blocking drug, used by criminal elements in subduing subjects. The drug makes its victims incapable of resisting an order or asserting themselves. This makes for a very passive and willing subject, one who has some volition but will have no clear recollection afterward.
Douglas R. Cobb: Who is Kaja Slavik, and what was his job for your character, Pinkus?
If you think answering this might give too much away, you can say, "Pass".
Ralph Zeta: Pass. Gives too much away.
Douglas R. Cobb: Ralph, do you have plans to write a sequel to , or are you working on any other literary projects at the moment?
Ralph Zeta: I am working on another thriller dealing with the origin of our species and the potential repercussions of exploiting DNA to achieve the highest levels of human performance. As to a sequel involving Jason Justice, given his profession, lifestyle and background, there is a good chance there has to be at least one or two more adventures left in his future!
Douglas R. Cobb: Thanks again for taking the time, Ralph, to answer these questions! I really enjoyed reading your thrilling debut novel, Cry for Justice, and I look forward to reading/reviewing more of your novels in the future!
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