Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. She set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. Pamela consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.
An author, attorney and motivational speaker, Pamela spent fifteen years as Managing Counsel for Toyota, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of the absence of women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. She is now an award-winning author of multiple legal thrillers, including Anybody’s Daughter, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction, and her new release, Abuse of Discretion, a shocking look at the juvenile justice system in the context of a troubling teen sexting case.
Prior to her legal career, spent several years as a television news writer and associate producer. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and earned a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University and a law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of teen sexting, child sex trafficking, self-empowerment and fiction writing.
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A Kid’s Curiosity … A Parent’s Nightmare
Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen-year-old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice?
Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.
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We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?
After finishing law school, I became an avid reader of legal thrillers—especially books by John Grisham. But I was increasingly disappointed by the lack of diversity in the genre. I never saw any lawyer characters who were women or African-Americans in the legal thrillers I read. That void was what prompted me to take a stab at writing a legal thriller myself. In the process, I discovered my passion.
Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
Once I have a storyline in mind, I start outlining. In my head, I see each chapter as a scene from a movie. I’ll write just a couple of sentences for each chapter, outlining the book from beginning to end. That can take a couple of months because I’m developing the plot as I go. Once that’s done, I start writing and will write the first draft all the way through without much editing. Then I’ll go back and start revising. The real writing is in the rewriting. The whole process takes about a year.
Although I have a great home office with bright yellow walls and encouraging affirmations on the wall, my favorite place to write is a coffee shop with cushy chairs and good food. I love Panera Bread. And I’m definitely a morning writer.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
In Abuse of Discretion a kid’s curiosity turns into a parent’s nightmare. Graylin Alexander is a model fourteen year old. When his adolescent curiosity gets the best of him, Graylin finds himself embroiled in a sexting scandal that threatens to ruin his life. Jenny Ungerman, the attorney hired to defend Graylin, is smart, confident and committed. She isn’t thrilled, however, when ex-prosecutor Angela Evans joins Graylin’s defense team. The two women instantly butt heads. Can they put aside their differences long enough to ensure Graylin gets justice? Unbeknownst to Angela, her boyfriend Dre is wrestling with his own drama. Someone from his past wants him dead. For Dre, his response is simple—kill or be killed.
How did you get the idea for the book?
I was talking to a law school classmate who was lamenting the fact that he had yet another teenage client facing life-altering consequences as a result of sexting. He’s
a criminal defense attorney and explained to me that children as young as 13 and 14 were being prosecuted for distributing child pornography after taking naked selfies and sending them to a classmate. I was floored when he told me that these children faced the possibility of having to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives if convicted. I immediately knew this was a topic I wanted to address in a legal thriller and Abuse of Discretion was the result.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
Graylin is my favorite character. He’s a fighter who sticks to his guns even when his attorneys and father try to explain the risks he’s taking. His naive belief that innocent people don't get convicted is something that I wanted readers to ponder.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Making sure I got the law write. I practiced criminal law and knew nothing about the juvenile justice system. It was eye opening to find out how different it was.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a stand-alone book that’s currently titled The Perfect Lawyer. It’s about a dynamic young female attorney who’s struggling with bipolar disorder. As a society, I don’t think we deal very well with mental illness. I want to shine a light on the condition and hopefully educate people in the process.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?
Never give up on your dreams. I experienced a lot of rejection from traditional publishers early in my writing career. My third book, Murder on the Down Low, was rejected by nine publishing houses, which forced me to self-publish. I’m now a successful indie author, with nine books to my credit. When two major publishers who rejected my earlier books later solicited me, it truly validated my decision to take charge of my own writing career. It was also quite validating when Anybody’s Daughter won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction against four traditionally published authors, including Walter Mosley and Terry McMillan. In the words of Tyler Perry, “We don’t have to wait for someone to green light our projects. We can create our own intersections.”