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CUA Law Alumni Collaborate on Legal Thriller Audiobook: Daingerfield Island

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CUA Law alumni William T. Newman Jr. '77 and John A. Wasowicz '84 are collaborating on an audio version of Daingerfield Island, a legal thriller written by Wasowicz and published by BrickHouse Books. Newman, who trained as an actor and performs in community theater productions, provided the narration of the novel.

The audiobook will appear later this year on Audible, a division of Amazon.com, which currently offers the digital and soft cover versions.

Below is an interview with Wasowicz regarding his experiences:


How did you and Bill first meet?
We met one another 30 years ago while practicing law in the mid 1980's as members of the legal fraternity in Arlington County.  Bill was in private practice until he went on the Arlington County Circuit Court bench, where he currently sits as Chief Judge. I started out as an Asst. Commonwealth Attorney when I graduated from Catholic University's law school in '84, working for Helen Fahey, another CU grad, who was Commonwealth Attorney at the time. I left the CA's office and went into private practice until 2005, when I began working in the public sector. Although Bill and I were once close professional friends, we had not seen one another for over 10 years, except when I would go to one of the community theater productions in which he was playing, most recently "The Gospel at Colonus."

How did this partnership begin?
Following last year's publication of "Daingerfield Island," I appeared at over 30 bookstores to discuss and sign copies of the novel. Many of the people I met said that they preferred listening to books instead of reading them. So I decided to record an audio version. The first person I approached for the narration was Bill. I was familiar with his ongoing theatrical activities and I had a deep appreciation for his artistic bent. When I reached out to him, we resumed our old friendship as though it was yesterday. He was enthusiastic about the project. We began recording with a two-person podcast crew in the basement of his home, working on the project in our spare time.

How does being CUA Law alumni play into the development of your book and the creative partnership of the book?
CUA alumni are some of the most collaborative people with whom I've worked, and I've come into contact with them throughout my legal career.  As just one example, I mention Helen Fahey, who hired me as a prosecutor in the 1980's when I started my legal career. Throughout my career, CUA alumni have been mentors, collaborators, supporters, and friends. The fact that Bill and I are CUA alumni is one more data point -- another point of shared reference -- in our friendship and world view. We experienced the same discipline and instruction as law students, and that creates a certain bond of fellowship, just like people who have worked as prosecutors or as jurists.

In writing "Daingerfield Island," I molded a character after Bill.  The fictional character is a minister who delivers a particularly poignant eulogy at the funeral of one of the book's characters. At the time I wrote it, I had no idea that Bill and I would work together on the audiobook. While we were taping the book, we did a 'reading' at One More Page Books, a local bookstore in Arlington. And Bill read the section in which his character delivers the eulogy. It was fantastic and gave me chills!      
 

Why did you decide to write the book and what was the process like?
I've always had at least one novel inside of me. I'd been writing the book for years in my head. When our youngest son graduated from college in 2013, I told my wife I wanted to finish the book, and she said 'Go for it!' So I relegated myself to the computer on nights and weekends and in 2016 a small publishing house in Baltimore named BrickHouse Books decided to publish it. Through the efforts of a fantastic publisher and editor -- Clarinda Harriss and Charles Rammelkamp -- and some wonderful readers who offered critical insight, the book got finished. In the end, it sort of wrote itself, a sign that the creative process has truly taken hold, or so I'm told. It's always rewarding when you complete a project -- whether it's planting vegetables in the garden or taking words from your computer and seeing them on the printed page -- and the reception from readers and friends has been beyond my expectation.

Have you enjoyed promoting the book?

Promoting the book has been as much fun as writing it. I've been to 35 bookstores and venues in eight states, from Vermont to South Carolina, including a dozen stores in Virginia. We "released" the book at New Columbia Distillery in Northeast DC, the people who make 'Green Hat' gin. The book's protagonist, Elmo Katz, Esq. (a former Alexandria prosecutor who is in defense practice in Old Town Alexandria) drinks Green Hat in the book, and I called the distillery for permission to use their brand. Not only did they consent, but they hosted the release party. We've had similar events at the Principal Art Gallery in Alexandria. Book store owners and operators are uniquely wonderful people and they've been gracious in welcoming me to their stores, and I've reciprocated by selling lots of books to make it worth their while.

Do you plan to write another book?
Yes. "Jones Point" is being completed and I hope to publish it next year with BrickHouse Books. Mo Katz returns, this time as U.S. Attorney, along with the same characters from the previous novel, including Mai Lin, a special assistant to Katz. Like in "Daingerfield Island," I use locations in Northern Virginia and the District for major scenes. The climactic chapter of the book takes place on the Wilson Bridge.

What are some of your favorite memories from CUA Law?
One last memory is the day President Reagan was shot. I had Criminal Procedure with Clifford Fishman that night, and he talked about how horrible the day's events had been and the important role that lawyers play in society. Those words had something to do with my decision to go into prosecution and the decision to pursue my current employment in the public sector.

Another memory is my study group -- Peter Iovino, Gary Rubin, and Michael Klein -- and how we stayed together for four years of night school, always supporting and encouraging one another.

My wife and I had our first son in 1982 while I was attending law school at night and working full-time during the day.  I have a lot of memories riding Metro in those years and wondering if the rigorous schedule of work, home, and school was worth it.  Of course, it was worth every minute. A degree from CUA law school opened one of the most exciting chapters of my life, to say nothing of my book, "Daingerfield Island."