Author, Author! — Robert Whitlow

4 Aug

Robert Whitlow is a film-maker and a best-selling author of eight legal thrillers. He is also a contributor to a short story The Rescuers, a story included in the book What The Wind Picked Up by The ChiLibris Ring. In 2001, he won the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction, for his novel The Trial.

His debut novel, The List, was made into a movie starring Malcolm McDowell.

In 2010, Whitlow’s second novel, The Trial, a film based upon Whitlow’s Christy Award Winning book The Trial, and directed by Gary Wheeler, was produced as a movie. The screenplay for the movie The Trial was written by Mark Freiburger. The movie starred Matthew ModineNikki DeloachRobert ForsterClare Carey and Bob Gunton [1]

Robert Whitlow is also a practicing attorney and lives in North Carolina.  (From Wikipedia)

Robert Whitlow stands at the top of the list of my book club’s favorite authors.  We have read and discussed all of his books, except two:  The List (which some had already read, but we watched the movie) and Water’s Edge (because it has just come out).  I had the opportunity to sit down with Robert and his wife Cathy at the ICRS last month.  Here are some highlights of our talk.

BTB:  What is your writing schedule and research practices?

Robert:  Because I still practice law, I tend to write in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends.  I like to keep time open for my family though. When deadlines are coming close, I will spend much more time.  As to research, my legal experience helps with that aspect of my writing.  I will do research on the places in which the books are set.  Water’s Edge is set in northwest Georgia, an area we lived in for some time.  I also did research on Ponzi schemes for Water’s Edge. But, generally I have very little actual research hours invested in each book.

Kathy:  He is very disciplined in his writing schedule.

BTB:  Of all your books, which one is closest to your heart?

Robert:  My first book, The List and  my book Jimmy are what I call “inspired books”, books I had to write.  Writing Jimmy had a huge impact on my life.  Following the publication of Jimmy, my daughter gave birth to my grandchild who has Downs Syndrome.   My other books I believe are “sanctified imagination”.

BTB:  Jimmy had an alternate ending published online, why?

Robert:  I presented the publisher with both endings and they choose the ending to be published in the book.  A movie version of Jimmy is also currently in the works.

BTB:  Are the movies adapted from your books different?

Robert:  I am involved in the whole process of producing a movie.  The movies become independent works from the book on which it is based.  For The Trial, the focus was on healing from grief, so parts of the novel that were not integral to the focus were not included.

BTB:  What is your newest book, Water’s Edge, about?

Robert:  A young lawyer on the rise in Atlanta is faced with the death of his father, also an attorney. He has to deal with all the issues involving his father’s death, including the closing of his law office. In the novel, the young lawyer has to go back to his roots in order to find purpose in his life.  I have used Jeremiah 6:16 for this book (The Lord said to his people: “You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path.  Ask where the old, reliable paths are. Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it. If you do, you will find rest for your souls.”  But they said, “We will not follow it!” NET)

BTB:  Can you tell us about the novel you are currently working on?

Robert:  The first draft of my newest novel is due August 1.  It will be a standalone featuring a High School student faced with an unplanned pregnancy.  The year is 1974, the year of the Roe v. Wade decision.  The action then jumps to a point in the future.  It will be a very emotional story.  (Robert shared a little more about the book, but Kathy very wisely advised I not tell too much!  Let’s just say, you won’t want to miss this one when it is finished.)

A Big Thank You to Robert and Kathy for speaking with me.  

My Husband’s Impressions:

Copies of Water’s Edge were snapped up quickly at the ICRS, so the publisher, Thomas Nelson, sent me a copy of to read and review.  Unfortunately that copy was snatched up too — by my husband!  Brian is a huge fan of Robert Whitlow and was eager to read Water’s Edge. Because it was his birthday, I let him. Here are some of Brian’s thoughts about the book.

It kept me wanting to read more and more.  The main character, Tom Crane, has a set view on what success is, until he returns to his hometown and to the law practice of his dead father.  He runs into all kinds of people around town who tell him what a success his father is, something he has a hard time believing since he has bills and back taxes to take care of.  His uncle is also was a great character.  A retired preacher, he is often awakened at night to pray for the issues Tom is facing.  And the prayers, often unknown to Tom, impact the direction that Tom goes.  The scripture the uncle quotes is very relevant and applicable for the day to day.  Probably the best book Robert Whitlow has written.”


(I received Water’s Edge from Thomas Nelson.  The opinions expressed by my husband are his alone, no coercion from anyone, including me!)

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