Guest Post: True Confessions of a Real-Life Juror

the holdout coverHave you ever wondered where novels come from? Sometimes their beginnings are as dim and remote as rivers. That’s my little lead-in to Laurel Osterkamp, award-winning author of four full-length novels and two novellas, among them The Holdout, a marvelous coming of age novel involving reality TV and—of all things—romance while on jury duty. In this guest post, Laurel gives us a sneak peek into the beginnings of The Holdout. So, Welcome, Laurel!

I really wanted jury duty.

For one, I would get out of teaching for a week or two. It was close to the end of the school year and my seniors were super squirrely.  But there was more to it than just that. I’ve seen my fair share of legal dramas, and I thought it would be cool to sit in that box and decide the outcome of a court case. So when I got my summons I felt like I’d been awarded something cool.

But that was nothing compared to actually getting picked.  The lawyers interviewed us, not individually, but as a group.  And we all had to state where we were from, our marital status, age, and profession. I was one of two people who wasn’t a native Minnesotan, and the other guy couldn’t speak English. I believe that for that reason, the defense wanted me. It was a court case between a famous and successful Minnesotan businessman and a Turkish boating company. Of course the defense would want someone, anyone, who was from out of town. That person was me.

And like Robin in The Holdout, I did become one of two people who spoke up for the defense during deliberations.  Actually, there are a lot of similarities between my jury experience and Robin’s.  More similarities include:

  • The jurors. I made their personalities a little more extreme in the book, especially in Four’s case. Hopefully the real-life Four will never read The Holdout, because she’ll probably hate me if she does. But other than that, I borrowed a lot from real-life.
  • The case. It was actually about yachts, and I learned a lot about cold-molding epoxy, which is a method of boat construction.
  • The routine. We did get prox-cards, which were keys to our very own jury room. We did get treats all the time, and we also took stretching breaks and had our own screens in front of our own cushy chairs. But my favorite part was that the bailiff always said, “All rise for the jury” every time we entered the room.
  • The deliberations. It was basically ten to two in the end, and the guy who agreed with me was the foreman of the jury. He was also worthless. I also wound up arguing with the juror who inspired Nick/Ten but it was also him who I respected the most out of all the jurors.
  • The verdict. But you’ll have to read The Holdout to find out more about that.
  • The best part was walking away at the end. Knowing that I’d be able to walk away made me more willing to speak out than I’d ever been before.
  • Nick/Ten really had been on three juries in two years – one county, one state, and one federal. So if you think that’s not possible, think again!

But there were differences too:

  • There was no romance. There were some single twenty-somethings on the jury, but I never picked up on any sort of spark between them.
  • There was no real-life handsome bad-boy who inspired Silas Smythe. Too bad. The trial would have been more interesting if he had been around.
  • I did eventually learn most of the juror’s names.

In the end, jury duty was a great experience, if for no other reason that it inspired The Holdout. I recommend it even for people who aren’t geeks like me. You’ll learn a lot, and in the end, you’ll have an interesting story to tell.

LAO_2_600Laurel Osterkamp gets very attached to her charactersScared Together is her newest story starring Lucy, who debuted in Campaign Promises, a free novella Laurel released to thank all her awesome readers. Then Lucy’s story continued with November Surprise and Blue State, both available on Amazon. Most recently there’s The Holdout, also featuring Lucy, but the main character is Monty’s cousin Robin, and it’s about love, justice, and reality TV.

You can find Laurel on Twitter but she doesn’t tweet super often. A better idea is to follow her blog, www.laurelosterkamp.blogspot.com, or Lucy’s blog, www.novembersurprises.blogspot.com, where you’ll read about Lucy’s career, marriage, and politics.

Laurel teaches in Minneapolis, MN. She enjoys her boot collection, spending time with her husband and two chatty children, and finding time to write.  Her other novels are both award winning –  Following My Toes and Starring in the Movie of My Life. Visit her at www.laurelosterkamp.com.

And you can find her books at AmazonSmashwordsBarnes & Noble, and Kobo.

StarringNewCoverAug2012_600Blue State Cover 4

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