Three Questions About Good Intentions

Q: What was the impetus for writing GOOD INTENTIONS?

A: I think that working in the area of child protection has to be one of the most challenging jobs there are. Whether you are a social worker, attorney or judge, the decisions are always difficult. There’s that famous line by Tom Waits in his song, “Fumblin’ with the Blues.” It goes, “Two dead ends but you still have to choose.”  That’s what it’s often like. You have to choose the best of two or three bad options, and you have the lives of these children hanging in the balance. There’s one point in the book where the narrator says something like, “if I remove a child from his parent, then I’m breaking up a family, and if I keep a child in the home, then I’m putting kids at risk and being a lazy bureaucrat.” Although it is a complicated subject, I thought it would make a stimulating environment for a legal thriller/mystery. I’m not aware of many other books where child protection proceedings are a focal point, and I thought it might educate readers as well as entertain.

Q: Tell me a little about what the book is about?

The main character is Jim Thompson. He is a very young judge assigned to handle child protection cases, and he’s not well respected. Around the courthouse, his nickname is “The Kitten.” When one of the children he placed in foster care dies, there’s a public backlash. Then his mentor and the person who helped him get appointed to the bench is murdered.

Q: Your protagonist, Jim Thompson, is filled with doubt but has to make difficult decisions every day. You don’t often see judges portrayed in that manner, what were your thoughts when creating that character?

A: I think it is fun to play on the edges of the genre. It’s interesting. So often judges are vindictive, corrupt, or biased on one end of the spectrum. On the other end of the spectrum, they are heroes and the perfect protectors of justice. Judge Thompson is, in many ways, far more realistic. He’s a smart young judge. He’s trying to establish himself, but he hasn’t earned the respect that comes after serving on the bench for twenty years. So he has to strike a balance. He has to ask questions and work to find the right decision. When there isn’t a clear answer, he has to pick a path despite his doubts. It’s part of the job of being a judge. A judge can’t dodge a tough decision. He gets paid to make decisions and make decisions quickly without all the information. There will never be enough information. 

Darrin Friedman