“Fatal Accusation” is a newly released legal thriller, written by two Emporia State University School of Business faculty.
During the work week, Co-Author Marian Riedy teaches Business Law, and Co-Author Tanja Steigner teaches finance. Outside of the office, they write legal thrillers. Their first novel, “Fatal Accusation: A Stein & Associates Thriller,” was released Wednesday by Black Rose Press. The story is based off of a client Riedy’s firm worked with during her time as a lawyer in Washington DC.
“The story diverges madly from anything that actually happened to this client,” Riedy said. “The real thing that happened to the client — -she was very badly injured — and I stepped back and started thinking ‘how could I transform what happened to her into a thriller?’ and it just grew from there.”
Riedy said as a lawyer, she has been writing her entire professional career. However, both she and Steigner are beginning fiction writers. Starting with this legal thriller (and another in the works) is a way for them to incorporate their legal knowledge and language with creative generation.
The book follows Washington DC Attorney Miranda Patel as she delves into a case involving her former paralegal, Jessica Lane, and a near-fatal head injury she endured. As the story thickens, Patel uncovers a connection between Lane and a hacking incident at the National Security Agency. Ed Dante and Chad Blakely come into the story as they seek “justice” for past offenses against them, twisting Patel and her colleagues into a retribution scheme.
Whether or not justice is found is something the reader must chew on.
Riedy started the novel on her own and solicited feedback from her family members and colleagues, both in the business school and in the English department. Riedy even took a fiction writing class with Professor Amy Sage Webb.
“I did have several wonderful readers … but Tanja committed to it in the long-term,” Riedy said. “After the first few chapters, she got more invested, and as we went along, we were writing it together.”
Riedy did most of the writing, so the story could maintain its voice. Steigner helped craft the plot and characters.
“She’s very good at making sure I don’t miss any logical steps along the way, so I’m not leaving my reader behind,” Riedy said. “She’s a friend, a colleague and a co-author.”
Releasing this book at this time is unlike how the co-authors imagined, but they are still making the best of their resources. An dramatized excerpt of the book recorded via Zoom, found on www.RiedyReads.com, gives a taste of the characters and the conflicts they face. The blurbs about the book on the same website are written by professionals in the same professional positions as the characters.
The release is not the only thing on the co-authors mind, as the world is currently responding to the death of George Floyd and the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We certainly stand in spirit with the protestors who are demanding systemic change,” Riedy said. “That is more important right now than, obviously, this book launch.”
The co-authors’ excitement is still palpable, as the book has been in the writing process for a couple of years and the publishing process for about nine months. Many traditional presses only take manuscripts through a literary agent, and though the co-authors did send out queries for an agent, they also sent the manuscript to a handful of independent presses. Black Rose Press has been a “terrific” fit for the co-authors, and Riedy cannot speak highly enough about it.
The co-authors are currently working on the second book of the series. During the school year, Riedy said she is only able to write a few hours a week, but this summer will allow her to delve further into the mystery.
Riedy encourages anyone who wants to write to write as a means of enjoyment and/or professionally.
“Fatal Accusation” is available in print or as an eBook on Amazon and in selected bookstores. It can also be ordered from the co-authors’ website: www.RiedyReads.com.