Before he began his career as an author, Frederick Schofield was a US Marine and a successful attorney. Inspired by his unique experience representing sex workers in Atlantic City, Frederick was compelled to write a mystery novel, The Boardwalkers. Frederick was also motivated by knowledge from his own personal history to write A Run to Hell, a thriller about the murder of famous Hollywood actress, Grace Kelly. In our interview with Frederick, we discussed his past, his years practicing law, and ultimately what led him to pen these two captivating stories.
Interview with Frederick Schofield
Tell us a little bit about your background. What was your career before you began writing?
I am a proud U.S. Marine veteran. For many years, I colorfully practiced law. Some might argue too colorfully. At one time, I represented more sex workers than any lawyer in Atlantic City, which meant I defended more sex workers than any lawyer in the world. That drove me to pen The Boardwalkers, a salty murder mystery and legal thriller set in a seaside gambling resort. Think of it as a foundation for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire, Part II.”
What ultimately inspired you to start?
Love of storytelling. A Run to Hell is a historical mystery that reveals the Mafia assassination of Academy-award winning actress Grace Kelly, after she became Princess of Monaco. That aspect of the story comes from dual sources: Philly mob clients and my father, who grew up next door to Grace and was the same age. My uncle was a best friend of Grace’s brother Kell, who was also mob murdered with their brother-in-law, four hours and a dozen city blocks apart.
Run leads to the joint CIA/FBI operation in Panama to capture or kill drug kingpin and dictator General Manuel Noriega. That story also comes home. My mentor in criminal law, Raymond J. Takiff, was one of three criminal lawyers defending Noriega upon U.S. federal drug charges.
What part of these stories do you think readers will find most intriguing?
My tales are flavored by biting back stories that motivate characters to experience personal growth in the face of danger— or die. Life versus death is always an intriguing matchup. So are diverse characters, whose struggles can’t always be overcome . . . while grasping at passion, and sometimes hoping love stands a chance.
How much is A Run to Hell based on fact versus entertaining embellishment?
In A Run to Hell, Lee is a cagey mob lawyer and his female counterpart, Jaime, is a toughened FBI special agent. Both must settle personal scores. Lee confronts the trio of true-to-life Mafia murders. Jaime is an immigrant to the United States, a first-generation citizen haunted by the true-to-life demise of a Central American hero, whose terrifying murder was preserved on a recording still maintained by the CIA.
Both characters are driven by their pasts to a mission: stop a dictator from pouring billions-of-dollars’ worth of Columbian cocaine into the United States through the Panama Canal. There is no conjury in the back tales sending Lee and Jaime on their Run to Hell.
Can you briefly describe the premise of The Boardwalkers?
When The Boardwalkers was originally released, an ex-wife complained that I killed her on the first page. I was compelled to reply: “In fairness, you didn’t die until the second page.” That murder sets in motion a seventy-year mystery. The adult mecca called Atlantic City is exposed from the demise of prohibition to the birth of casino glitter palaces.
Here, you learn about love from a killer with a heart and search for your soul among the soulless. Compelling backstories motivate friction between a Mafia boss and a trial lawyer in the desperate here and now, where only one of them can survive.
What personal experiences led you to write these books?
In 2018, I spent three months receiving inpatient healthcare for combat-connected conditions. As I recovered from three surgical procedures, I was encouraged to rework these stories. Twenty years earlier, initial printings had sold more than 22,000 copies before the small publishing house went belly up.
The gutted and restyled results delivered characters and themes that are wonderfully contemporary. I have been told that my writing style matured, and the characters have more depth. Go figure. Better than figuring: enjoy taking A Run to Hell and strolling with The Boardwalkers.
What are you working on at the moment?
A thriller close to the heart that’s unready but aching to be revealed. Agents are welcome to reach out via Frederick-Schofield.com.
To learn more about Frederick’s two popular novels, The Boardwalkers and A Run to Hell, you can find them listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. You can also learn more about his work and upcoming projects at his website here.