Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cody Fowler Davis - Attorney and Author

Some men respond to a midlife crisis by buying a Harley, a convertible, or a speedboat.  Tampa attorney Cody Fowler Davis decided to write a book instead.  The result: Green 61, a legal thriller that gives readers an insider’s view into the workings of our judicial system.  It tells the story of Anderson Parker, an idealistic young lawyer who leaves his lucrative position at a high-powered Tampa firm because of a philosophical conflict with Justin Cartwright, the firm’s ruthless, win-at-all-costs founder. Anderson soon finds himself facing off against Cartwright in a civil suit involving a boating accident that resulted in three deaths.  The story will keep you flipping pages right to the end.

The novel, a finalist in ForeWord's "Book of the Year" Awards, resonates with the realism that can only come from a writer who knows his subject from the inside out.  “Everything about the book is pursuant to the law in Florida,” Davis says. The two main characters, Parker and Cartwright, are composites of “the best and worst attributes of lawyers I’ve known.” In fact, the protagonist’s name (Anderson Parker) comes from the names of two attorneys who worked with Davis. 

The idea for the story came to Davis while he was sitting on the porch of his Useppa Island vacation home, looking out over the water at channel marker 61. “One of the side effects of civil trial work is that you look at everything and see an accident,” Davis explains. “I can’t drive through the city of St. Pete without seeing the residual effects of lawsuits. So creating the boating accident was easy.”  He then “worked backward” to handwrite the rest of the story, appropriately enough, on legal pads.  Although he had been an English major in college, his writing experience was limited to “briefs and legal stuff.” The first draft took him over six months of writing during spare time and while traveling. 

Davis comes from a family with a long legal tradition.  His grandfather, Cody Fowler, was president of the American Bar Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers.  He’s also one of the people Davis admires most because “he taught us the importance of giving back to others.” Davis’s father was a judge and a law professor, and Davis’s brother, Jim, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate.  He calls his brother's failed run for the governor's seat “one of the most emotional experiences I’ve ever had,” but he has “no sour grapes” about the results. “We have a great political system.  It may not be perfect, but it works.”  He feels the same way about the legal system, saying it has its flaws, but is “about as fair as you can get.”  He likes to quote his grandfather, who said,” Six jurors are a hell of a lot better way to end a dispute as compared to parties pacing off steps and then firing at each other with pistols." 

Encouraged by the response to Green 61, Davis has penned a sequel. Implied Consent is longer and more complex. Its storyline centers around four interesting cases Davis hopes will make people think.  He collaborated on this novel with his wife, Beth, whom he met in 1981 while both were students at Vanderbilt University. “Working together was a great experience,” Davis recalls. “It led to some arguments and screaming, but we learned a lot about each other.” Implied Consent is available on

 Davis has already started on a third novel, tentatively titled Money Rules.  In it, Anderson Parker runs for governor of Florida.  In case you think this is art imitating life, Davis is quick to admit that Parker is not his literary clone. He claims he’s “not nice enough to be Anderson Parker.”  There are similarities, however.  Like Parker, Davis left a large firm to set up his own practice, Davis-Harmon P.A. in Tampa, and he enjoys spending family time on Useppa Island, the setting for Green 61.  Although he’s a self-admitted workaholic, he loves being near the water. “My wife says when I get stressed, I put my head in salt water,” he says.  Or he puts in some time writing.  “I look at writing as more of a hobby.  I find it relaxing. It’s made me give up things like TV and internet backgammon, but it won’t replace my day job.”  You can’t help but wonder if John Grisham said the same thing.

For more about Cody Fowler Davis visit his website at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Christine Kling - Sailing Into Adventure

Christine Kling has always loved the sea. From her early years on the beaches of Southern California, she has never strayed far from the water. She became captivated by boats when, as a pre-teen, she first took the helm of a rented Lido 14. Since then, sailing has become a huge part of her life—and her writing.

Kling first moved to Florida in 1984. As a boating enthusiast, she loved the miles of coastline and the state’s many waterways. She settled in Fort Lauderdale where she lives aboard a boat on the Intracoastal with Chip, “the intrepid seadog.” After earning her BA from Florida International University, she continued on to receive her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. She had been interested in writing since her freshman year in high school when she worked on the school newspaper. She enjoyed reading books by Florida writers, especially her favorite, John D. MacDonald, but she didn’t take the plunge into novel writing until after she finished her graduate work. “I’m not a disciplined person,” she says. “I knew I wanted to write fiction, but I had no confidence.”

Although she took a job teaching high school English, she never lost her desire to write. But being a teacher and a “soccer mom” to her son, Tim, made it difficult for her to find the time. “I can’t concentrate when I can write for only a couple of hours a day,” she explains. “My ideas need to percolate. The hardest part of writing is the discipline of it—and keeping my butt in the chair. ”

Kling’s first novel, Surface Tension, was seven years in the making. It introduced Seychelle Sullivan, a Fort Lauderdale tugboat captain who shares Kling’s love of the sea and her thirst for adventure. Kling got the idea for Seychelle from Hero, a little tug in Fort Lauderdale, and its captain, a man named Red Koch. Although Red passed away two months after the publication of Surface Tension, his family members are still Kling’s biggest fans.

Kling has written three novels since Surface Tension, all centered around “topical subjects related to crime in a nautical world.” The latest in the series, Wrecker’s Key, was praised by Publisher’s Weekly as “ …a solid tale of nautical adventure.” In it, Seychelle tows a millionaire’s yacht to Fort Lauderdale for a friend. When the friend ends up dead in a windsurfing mishap, Seychelle finds herself investigating a murder. Kling got the idea after attending a meeting of some real tugboat captains. “They were talking about how some unethical people were claiming boats were salvages rather than tows. So I thought, ‘Wow! What if I take that to the Nth degree and have someone causing boats to wreck for the salvage money?’ ” The ending of the novel was a surprise— even to Kling. “I put Seychelle in a fix and didn’t know how to get her out. I didn’t want the book to end the way it did. I even tried writing other endings, but none of them worked - much to my chagrin.”

Although her books deal with death and danger, Kling tries to handle these subjects sensitively. “I sometimes joke that I kill people for a living, but I want that not to be a joke. I’ve had people I love die, and it’s a horrible loss. I never want death taken lightly in my books.” Family issues are another subject that Kling doesn’t take lightly. All four of her Seychelle Sullivan novels feature a child character because, as a teacher and a mom, most of the issues Kling cares about have something to do with children.“Family is very important to me,” she explains. “One of the biggest differences between Seychelle and me is that Seychelle doesn’t want to be a mother.”

Kling recently finished Circle of Bones, a stand-alone novel that is “more of an adventure thriller.” It was inspired by the mysterious disappearance of a real French submarine, the SURCOUF, in the Caribbean during the second World War. “There are all kinds of theories, but no one knows what really happened,” she says. “The ship just disappeared with 130 souls aboard.” In her book, someone finds the sub, but the people who sank it don’t want it to be found and will do anything to keep its secrets. Kling especially enjoyed doing the research for this novel because she is interested in conspiracy theories and the political aspects of secret societies like Skull and Bones. This new thriller took four years to write, and Kling intends to release it as an e-original in August 2011.

Kling’s readers are very important to her, and she loves hearing from them. For her, “there’s no thrill like opening an e-mail and reading something from someone who’s spent time with the people I created and has been touched by their story. Nothing else in life gives you that kind of joy.” She wants her readers to get to know her characters as real people, not superheroes. Her characters are involved in the universal struggle to survive and overcome. According to Kling, “Seychelle is a woman who is trying to get by, and she struggles to overcome her problems. In Circle of Bones, Maggie Riley, a singlehanded sailor, gets into just as much trouble as Seychelle does, but as a former U.S. Marine, she can handle herself a little better.” It is Kling’s hope that if readers see her characters overcoming adversity, maybe they will believe that they can too.

Kling says she writes all her books for readers who dream of adventure. “They may not have done anything adventurous, they may not have the courage, but they believe that adventure is a fine thing. And they’d be willing to take a chance, to put themselves in peril if necessary, to do the right thing.” So if maritime adventure is what you crave, set sail with Christine Kling, and let her be your charter captain for excitement on the high seas.

For more about Christine Kling, visit her website at

Next: Cody Fowler Davis - Attorney and Author