Hopkinsville attorney Jason Holland has written his first novel -- a legal thriller called "Honor Thy Father."
Years ago, Holland was inspired by his father to write the book. His father had Alzheimer's disease and died in 1999.
"Shortly thereafter, I remember I was mowing the yard and I thought 'my dad had Alzheimer's disease so that statistically makes me more likely to have it. What would that be like?' " he said. "'I'm an attorney. What if I was still practicing and I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease?' That turned into this (book)."
An avid reader, Holland said he gravitates toward mystery-thrillers and spy novels written by best-selling authors like John Grisham, Richard North Patterson, Dennis Lahane and Michael Connelly.
"I'm a big reader, I have been my entire life," Holland said. "It took a long time, but eventually I figured out that it was my inability to write like my heroes that made me write like me."
In "Honor Thy Father," Holland writes about Cassandra Warren, the wife of a wealthy, Kentucky business tycoon, who is brutally murdered at her lake home. Criminal attorney Hunter Cameron's own nightmare is just beginning as his best friend, Kirk, is the prime suspect in the crime.
"The murder is almost an exact replica of a murder that happened in the same house 40 years before," Holland said about the plot.
"Caught up in a tangled web of small-town intrigue and politics, Hunter fights to prove his friend's innocence. What no one knows is that Hunter is hiding a deadly secret of his own and that catching the real killer and saving Kirk's life may very well cost him his own …," according to a news release.
A Chicago native, Holland graduated with a double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Murray State University before earning his law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law in 1997.
Having lived and worked in Hopkinsville for more than 20 years, Holland decided to set his novel in the town he and his family call home.
"Most first-time authors you'll find a lot of it is autobiographical because you're writing for the first time. You just tend to write about things you know," he said. "I took the liberty -- perhaps for literary convenience -- to combine (Hopkinsville and Cadiz). Basically, Hopkinsville has informally annexed Cadiz. I just call it all Hopkinsville."
Many local Hopkinsville locations make cameo appearances in Holland's book, including Ferrell's, the Woodshed and the Corner Coffeehouse, according to the release.
"Anyone who reads this and those who have will recognize them immediately," he said. "It makes it more authentic and these are fun places."
Holland said none of the book characters are based on real people but instead are a "hodge-podge" of things and habits of people he has encountered.
"A lot of the circumstances in (the book) were real -- like some of the medical treatments (the main character) gets are the very things I watched my dad do," he said. "With stories, you are taking things you're seeing every day and just putting them on paper."
Using his experience as a criminal defense attorney, Holland said he included the legal aspects of the case into the narrative.
"There are a lot of courtroom proceedings in it, but I try not to inundate you with it," he said. "I try to move it along. It's certainly not meant to be a treatise on criminal procedure, but at the same time, I wanted it to be entertaining and mostly technically accurate."
Holland's book is a 20-year labor of love. He started writing the manuscript in 1999.
"I always had the beginning and the end,
SEE HONOR/page c6
from page c1
but I didn't get really serious about it until 2005. I wrote pretty determinedly and knocked it out in about five months," he said. "I started to market it to agents and, back then, before the digital age (they said) it was kind of long for a (debut) novel."
Having received a few rejection letters at the time, Holland shelved it for more than a decade.
About a year ago, local retired editor Charlotte Hendricks offered to read the manuscript and help him edit it.
"We were thinking of ways to market it, and of course the digital age had come into (play), so the length was not as significant," he said.
Hendricks shared the book with New York Times bestselling author and Hopkinsville resident Teresa Medeiros, who is the CEO of Amber House Books publishing company.
Soon thereafter, the trio met for lunch to discuss the future of "Honor Thy Father."
"We had to bring a lot of it forward because I had completed it in 2005. There was very little reference to cell phones. I had written about landlines. That was really the process," he said. "It could have disappeared into nothing. It was just happenstance of Charlotte getting a hold of it, knowing Terri (and) them both liking it."
Amber House is publishing Holland's novel, which is available online as an e-book for the Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and Smashwords. It is available in print at Amazon and will be arriving soon at Barnes and Noble.
"Prior to reading 'Honor Thy Father,' I had only published books from some of New York publishing's top romance authors. But as soon as I started reading Jason's manuscript, I realized it was something special," Medeiros said. "He made me cry. He gave me chills and I knew this was a very special book that deserved a wider audience ... He's been a real joy to work with throughout the editing and publication process, and I hope this is just the beginning of a successful publishing career for him."
As his book hits shelves and digital platforms, Holland said some readers have discussed the television or movie potential for his book.
"I would certainly take the call (from producers)," he said, chuckling. "I think it fits better in a one-season Netflix series. It is a very intricate story … I think it would be pretty hard to fit it into a movie (timeframe), unless you're talking 'Dances With Wolves' length."
Holland said he has an actor in mind he would like to portray attorney Hunter Cameron.
"He was too young in 2005, but he's the right age now -- Kevin Costner," he said. "I wish it could somehow come across his desk. I think he's the right age for it."
Holland said he plans at least one book signing event this summer and intends to speak about his debut novel in October at the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library.
Since the release of "Honor Thy Father," Holland has started writing another book called "Honor Thy Mother," the second novel in the legal thriller series he has planned.
"I finally completed this (first) book, and I'm very proud of it … I feel totally free to work on the next one," he said. "It's not a traditional sequel, but there is a character that rises up out of this (book) --- a female character. I think people will like her a lot."
Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or email@example.com.