V Frank Asaro is a lawyer, musician/composer, inventor and author/philosopher who began developing the theory of co-opetition not long after he was selected out of law school as lawyer-clerk to the California Courts of Appeal. He went on to receive the highest-category law career peer review, Martindale Hubbell rating, and appeared in Who’s Who in American Law, 98-99 and Who’s Who in the World 2000.
Why was writing The Tortoise Shell Code so important to you?
I wanted to novelize the concepts of my non-fiction book, Universal Co-opetition, published in 2011. Should exclusivity of that method lay only with Huxley, Ayn Rand, Orwell, E. Burdick, Dumas and notable others?
What was the writing/creative process like?
It was totally fun. I did it to escape the vortex of combat as a litigation lawyer. Often I would write in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, not remembering the next day what I had written. Of course, by then I usually was back in the courtroom.
How did you come up with the title?
I was running titles by my twelve year old granddaughter, Molly. I told her that a tortoise shell code actually was given in a scene from the story. That’s it! She said.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was surprised and flattered when best-selling author Spencer Johnson, M.D. (Who Moved My Cheese, and co-writer of The One Minute Manager) read over my extensive synopsis of what became Universal Co-opetition. He kindly phoned all the way from Hawaii and said, “…You must write this book…” Regarding The Tortoise Shell Code, I heard good things from editor Mark Clements, among others.
What books do you believe influenced you in your life?
I have been very much influenced by novels with a message – not only those by the writers noted above, but by many others, a few being: Steinbeck, Melville, Hemmingway, and William Golding.
How much influence did you have in the cover of your book? Did you initially have a different idea of how it would look?
Publisher Bettie Youngs of Bettie Youngs Books should get the credit for that one. She liked the way the plume of smoke on the sea would attract a typical book browser. I considered the subject out of my realm.
Can you describe a typical day for you?
As I said, the first drafts I wrote mostly in the middle of the night. Being a litigator, I had zero time to write at the office during the day. Later, when I semi-retired, I thinned the manuscript down – from 800 pages to 400 pages, a lot of the clippings I hated to leave on the floor. But who would pay for an 800 page book these days? So, lots of computer time - to Starbucks; debates with a few other writers, and back to the computer at home where I love to sculpt thoughts and scenes. I have two or three other manuscripts piled up.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I’ve had many “been there done that” phases to my life. We move on from things, depending on the exigencies of keeping fit for the age we go through: scuba diving, black diamond snow skiing, sailboat racing, mountain and cliff climbing, ranching/horses, Amazon jungles and rivers – anything to escape the pressures of continuous court battles.
What do your family and friends think of your writing?
You like to hear the applause, don’t you? “…keep it going dad…” or “switching careers, eh...”
What do you think is more important – a good plot, or good characters? Why did you choose the one you did?
Although it is definitely fiction, you must have some experiences in order to write about what you know. The plot and story must be good, and exciting. And the characters must be like real. I put them together from composites of parts of actual people. Before law school, I worked in ship yards, aircraft plants, industrial banks, and unloading rail cars, to name a few. Professionally, not only did I practice maritime law, I worked in the other legal fields as well: Landslides, plane crashes, ship sinking’s, business disputes, shareholder battles and others. In the mornings I would be in the board rooms advising the bankers. At night I was visiting inmates in the jails doing charity criminal defense work – having been appointed by the presiding federal judge. And I had the good fortune to have traveled many places in the world, some for clients, and have tasted rich bits of life – all valuable for weaving the yarn.