By Miguelina Perez

A graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School, Allison Leotta lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her two sons and husband, a defense attorney. A federal prosecutor for twelve years before retiring to pursue a writing career, Allison wanted to bring stories that not only told about the heartbreaking tragedies, acts of shocking evil and vulnerable victims she witnessed, but also the moments of real heroism, true love and healing she experienced.

Many crimes stem from love gone wrong, and are committed by the victim’s most trusted ally: a spouse, lover, friend, or parent. Her protagonist, sex-crimes and domestic-violence prosecutor Anna Curtis, sees the worst things that people do to their loved ones. Her books explore Anna’s dark childhood, which drew her to this job, as well as the effects that living in this violent world have on her personal life today, as she struggles to have a happy and normal romantic life.

Allison’s first novel, Law of Attraction, was published in 2010 by Simon & Schuster. The Washington Post called it “a racy legal thriller…taking on a still-taboo subject.” Suspense Magazine named it one of the best books of the year and Library Journal gave it a starred review, calling it “riveting.”

Its sequel, Discretion, was released in July. Author David Baldacci has called it “…a first-rate thriller. Leotta nails the trifecta of fiction: plot, pace and character. Ranks right up there with the wonderful Linda Fairstein.” Romance Reviews Today awarded Discretion a “Perfect 10” and nominated it for Best Book of the Year.

Recently, I chatted with Allison about her books, writing and how often art imitates life.

Miguelina: Your first book Law of Attraction is loosely based on your career as a prosecuting attorney in the Washington, D.C. area. I know you wanted to tell the stories of people affected by horrible crimes and the judicial system, but there has to be a deep rooted reason that compels you to tell these stories. Is there a more personal reason?

Allison: I try to write compelling novels about how the legal system works — and doesn’t work — through the lens of a sex-crimes prosecutor. At the heart of many of these stories is the intersection of love and hate. I was surprised to find that many crimes stem from love gone wrong, and are committed by the victim’s most trusted ally: a spouse, lover, friend, or parent.

My heroine, sex-crimes and domestic-violence prosecutor Anna Curtis sees the worst things that people do to their loved ones. My stories explore Anna’s dark childhood, which drew her to this job, as well as the effects that living in this violent world have on her personal life today, as she struggles to have a happy and normal romantic life despite her past and present wounds.

Miguelina: What is next for Anna Curtis?

Allison: Funny you should ask – I just turned in the manuscript for the third Anna Curtis book.  The story involves a brutal gang called MS-13 and the mystery of a colleague’s death.  Anna is also dealing with some juicy personal issues. I’m really excited about the story. I’m also excited to get a pedicure to celebrate turning in the manuscript!

Miguelina: Authors usually do series in threes, but any thoughts on a new series?

Allison: Some folks at Simon & Schuster have mentioned the possibility of spinning off a new series based on one of the characters in Discretion, as ass-kicking FBI agent named Samantha Randazzo. That could be fun!  I also have some ideas for stand-alones. So many books to write, so little time.

Miguelina: You have been called the female John Grisham – How do you feel about that?

Allison: It’s a wonderful compliment. Grisham is one of the great storytellers of our time. I’ve loved his books since I was in high school, and I have a new appreciation for how skillful his writing is.  I used to think a book that’s easy to read must be easy to write. Not true. It takes a lot of work – condensing, refining, polishing – to make a book that fun, smooth, and addictive.  So I’m delighted to be compared to Grisham.  I’m also glad to bring some female interests to the legal thriller, including romance, cute shoes and hunky male leads.

Miguelina: What is next for Allison Leotta?

Allison: Other than that pedicure?  Seriously, I want to take about a week off now, to decompress from the final push for book number 3. And then I’ll start thinking about whether to put Anna through a new adventure or try something different myself.  I saw so many fascinating stories in twelve years as a sex-crimes prosecutor. The challenge isn’t finding inspiration for the next story, but simply choosing which idea I want to live with for the next year. Most importantly, I want to become a better writer with each book.

Find out more about Allison at her website.