Marietta local Lance LoRusso is a self-described “attorney with a writing habit.” Most recently, he’s the published author behind “Hijacking Justice,” an eight-episode tale of detective Johnny Till. In this new installment of LoRusso’s Blue Mystery novel series, Till finds himself thrown in jail and charged with triple murder after being ambushed while visiting Ingram County on the Georgia Coast to help put away a serial rapist. LoRusso has authored more than seven books, all self-published, thanks to his extensive experience representing more than 120 law enforcement officers. Cobb Life Editor Madison Hogan asked LoRusso to share some of his insights as a writer and talked the nitty gritty about the life of crime, justice and storytelling.
CL: How does inspiration strike you?
LL: I’m fascinated by how people interact with each other and face life’s challenges. Many of my stories and plot lines arise from exchanges I’ve witnessed or by imagining how a person would feel if they were placed in a trying predicament. Practicing law and serving as a law enforcement officer provides a seemingly endless supply of such events. Both professions witness the very best and the very worst on the full spectrum of human behavior.
CL: What separates this book from other pieces you’ve written? What connects it?
LL: My first books are non-fiction. “When Cops Kill: The Aftermath of a Critical Incident” and “Blue News” are about law enforcement while “Firefighters in The Hot Seat” is about the fire service. While I have written fiction books, like “Peacemaking and Parallax,” “Hunting of Men” is my first full-length novel and the first in my Blue Mysteries Series. Writing a story in long form provides more opportunities to develop characters. My latest in the Blue Mysteries Series is “Hijacking Justice”… Both novels present the realities of law enforcement and portray how real law enforcement officers solve crimes through the story of Johnny Till, a young homicide detective. The novels and the non-fiction provide the public with a side of law enforcement reality which is not typically portrayed in movies and television.
CL: Do you have any rituals or best practices for writing?
LL: I’m very fortunate to be able to sit and write at the drop of a hat. Writing energizes and refreshes me like a cat nap on a long, rainy day. I know some authors have rituals of shutting out all noise, locking themselves away for days at a time, or outlining every detail prior to writing, but I am able to sit and write whenever I have time or need a few minutes to recharge my batteries. The best practice — don’t let a desire for perfection drive procrastination. Just start writing. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in seventeen days. I doubt he spent a lot of time outlining prior to putting quill to parchment.
CL: What advice can you share with other local aspiring authors?
LL: Pick a topic and genre that allow you to get lost in the world you are creating through your writing. Don’t focus on commercial success when deciding what to write.
CL: How has your environment influenced your work?
LL: I get to represent heroes every day — firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs and their families. It’s the best job in the world. Unfortunately, especially recently, their lives are filled with a lot of turmoil and personal struggles as a result of the negativity thrust upon their professions. Their dedication to their communities provides a lot of inspiration, and it’s an honor to write books that highlight their triumphs, expose the public to their realities and celebrate their commitment to protect the lives of strangers.
CL: What’s your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite?
LL: I love allowing my creativity to take over because most of my professional writing is formal, direct and geared toward a commitment to a mantra of, “Brevity is bliss.” No one likes editing… except maybe editors. Maybe.
CL: What separates your work from the rest of the world?
LL: I’m most proud of three comments about my writing. People have said my books opened their eyes to some of the realities facing law enforcement officers, readers have commented that my books are quick reads but pulled them in emotionally and public safety professionals have told me that I’ve remained true to reality. The emotions and struggles you will read are real and raw, and the action scenes are intense reflecting my experience representing over 120 law enforcement officers following officer-involved shootings and other critical incidents.
In a world of electronic distractions, I want readers to learn, escape and enjoy the time they graciously set aside to explore my writing.
The following is an excerpt of Lance LoRusso’s latest novel, “Hijacking Justice.”
A blinding flash ripped through Johnny Till’s vision like a bolt of lightning piercing a peaceful dream on a stormy night. Just as his mind recovered from the insult, another, then another burst shattered his vision. The flashes reminded him of night fire exercise on the police range, and his brain searched for the missing sounds of gunfire, the push of recoil, and the pungent smell of gunpowder. Flash, flash, flash — this time more rapid but distant and his eyes saw the rapid movement of shadows at their origin. The next flash was not as bright, but soon after, a plume of glass erupted toward him, the fragments dancing in the air reflecting in the limited ambient light and nearly forming a rainbow.
Suddenly aware of a trigger beneath his right index finger, Johnny pulled hard and fast, but the gun would not fire. Instead, the resistance of the trigger seemed to build, heavier and heavier, as if the gun was resisting him with all its effort. The flashes came again as he felt he was moving. His brain scrambled to find a safe place and panic set in because his firearm was useless. Survive, fight, win! The words echoed louder and louder until only the thunder of his heartbeat could compete.
As Johnny’s struggle raged, staggered pillars of light pierced four narrow windows illuminating particles of dust hovering in the air like stars on a clear night. The strong spring sun brought warmth to locations fortunate enough to receive the heaven-sent reminders of life outside the thick walls. Two beams landed on Detective Johnny Till —one on his feet and one on his face. The industrial surroundings and thin, issued blankets did little to help fight the cold that seemed inescapable. As the merciful, warm light slowly rescued him from another restless night, Johnny’s mind stopped the replay of the internal terror he couldn’t escape.
Hopeful that the last few months were just a horrible nightmare, Johnny gathered the courage to pull back the curtain of his eyelids to look beyond the horror chamber that his mind had become and slowly opened his eyes. Adjusting to the natural light on his face, he wiped the sweat from his forehead, and nearly stopped breathing when the orange sleeve of his inmate uniform combined with the smell of industrial cleaners and the dank odor of his thin mattress signaling the start of another day in the Ingram County Jail. Forcing himself to take a deep breath, longing for fresh air, Johnny lay still, staring at the ceiling as the fragments of memory flooded back piecing together how he turned from a law enforcement witness in a serial rape and homicide case to a man being held without bond for murder.