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Interview with V. Frank Asaro: The Tortoise Shell Code

Posted by on January 7, 2013


About the Book: Off the coast of Southern California, the Sea Diva, a tuna boat, sinks. Members of the crew are missing and what happened remains a mystery. Anthony Darren, a renowned and wealthy lawyer at the top of his game, knows the boat’s owner and soon becomes involved in the case. As the case goes to trial, a missing crew member is believed to be at fault, but new evidence comes to light and the finger of guilt points in a completely unan­ticipated direction.

Now Anthony must pull together all his resources to find the truth in what has happened and free a wrongly accused man—as well as untangle himself. Fighting despair, he finds that the recent events have called much larger issues into question. As he struggles to right this terrible wrong, Anthony makes new and enlightening dis­coveries in his own life-long battle for personal and global justice.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your background

For many years I enjoyed a career as a litigation counsel. Right out of law school I was lucky enough to get a job as law clerk/lawyer-assistant to the California Courts of Appeal. There I had the opportunity to write up a new legal concept that became prominent. That job opened the door to practicing in the field of maritime law, along with some work in an assortment of subfields: business fraud, plane crashes, landslides and other fascinating fact situations. However, being in the courtroom trying cases all the time, I felt that I was in constant combat. There is no denying that it kept me awake nights. But I finally figured out how to get some relief – a zone of peace – by writing scraps of fiction stories for an hour or so in the middle of the night. Often I couldn’t remember the next day what I had written. The notes piled up in a drawer, and I discovered years later that I had the makings of some novels in those piles. In my semi-retirement I dusted off those old manuscripts.

2) Where did you come up with the idea of “The Tortoise Shell Code”

Ever since those early days I was struck with how we need to cooperate as we compete – like in playing chess, or football. We get a better result if we synthesize those two behavioral traits. For example, capitalism I find it is not all Darwinian competition. There is much trust and confidence and fair dealing that must go along with competing for the price or market share. So this synthesis of cooperation and competition is what I call co-opetition. Other people later started using that term to describe how it works in business. I wrote a book called Universal Co-opetition that applies the concept to all life, even to physics and beyond that to the universe – really. I wrote The Tortoise Shell Code in order to novelize the ideas of Universal Co-opetition.

3) I found it very interesting throughout the book how you would introduce characters and they later appeared throughout the book. Did you have that all mapped out as you wrote the book?

I have to say that I pretty much mapped it out. Different characters you meet in life influence what you end up doing or where you go, or whether you succeed or not. It is probably good to think of that when you first engage with them. What is revenge, but a matter of setting something straight between some prior characters in life?

4) The characters were very well developed throughout the book, did you have a favorite?

Hard to say that I had a favorite. Some I really felt a bond with and I would actually feel for them – almost to the point of – dare I say it – weeping for them. With one character, I got to a point in the story where I realized that the person had to be eliminated. That was tough to do. The three that took the bicycle ride and much later stood on the podium in the end were all favorites.

5) How long did it take you to write “The Tortoise Shell Code?”

As I said I had scraps of notes from years and years ago, ending up with about 800 pages, but I put it all together in about six months thinning it to 430 pages.

6) Did you base any characters after anyone you knew in real life?

The characters are composites of people I knew in real life, but not wholly of any one person. It is all real fiction.

7) Where does Anthony Darren go from here? 😉

That’s a very good question. All those things you learn and experience in life and stories you deal with, especially as a litigation lawyer; I am thinking of weaving another adventure for him.

8) What is the one takeaway you want people to get from your book?

That’s easy. I want them to understand and use the concept of Co-opetition in life and apply it to government, politics, and business and to dealing with family and our kids. I believe it is a good way of avoiding polarization.

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions V. Frank Asaro!  Now you’ve learned a bit about the author:

My thoughts on the book:

Have you ever read a book and weren’t sure what you would think about it when you first receive or buy it?  But you keep an open mind and give it a try?  Well, those were my thoughts with this one.

However, as I opened the first few pages and began to read, it was easy to connect to the characters and to the story that was happening within it.  You were rooting for the good guys and hoping that the “bad” guys would get what was coming to them.

As you are watching the court cases unfold before you, you are interested in what happens next, and by the last 100 pages of the book you just can’t put the book down because you’re wanting to see what happens, and how it all ends.

Yes, that was “The Tortoise Shell Code” for me.  I really enjoyed this one, and recommend picking up a copy especially if you love the law, in depth character’s, and want a little something to think about afterwards.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the Tortoise Shell Code for review. 

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