In a post-bookstore world, or at least one where neighborhood bookstores are few and far between, book publishing is a mere shadow of what it used to be. That makes it all the more extraordinary when an author is able to see his or her work come to print by a renowned publishing house and distributed through mainstream channels. To be published again and again is rare indeed.
And so it is with local writer Benjamin Berkley of Fullerton whose second novel was released by Koehler Books on October 24. After writing a series of respected legal guidebooks, which contained their own vivid storytelling, Berkley has now transitioned seamlessly into writing engaging works of fiction. He’s taken a deep dive into writing after 40 years of practicing law—and found significant success along the way.
From as far back as he can remember, Berkley was fascinated by law. Growing up in Long Beach, New York, reruns of “Perry Mason” were central to his childhood. Law school and good weather drew him to Orange County and he soon built a robust practice specializing in estate planning and Social Security Disability appeals.
Though Berkley always enjoyed writing, he never seemed to have the time to pen the book he wanted to write. His days were filled with building his law practice and spending time with his wife and two children. It wasn’t until Berkley’s uncle became ill that he realized how important it was for him to write “My Wishes: A Planning Guide for the Inevitable.” He subsequently wrote three other self-help books before his first novel, “Against My Will” was published in 2012.
As with Berkley’s first novel, his latest — “In Defense of Guilt”—weaves together themes of morality, family and justice that are deeply connected to his Jewish values. The main character is a workaholic who is made to answer to G-d for her life’s indiscretions. “Believing that G-d sees all the good we do but also pronounces judgment on all that is bad is perhaps a controversial message,” said Berkley. “But I believe no one can escape our actions—we are all eventually accountable. And, above all, family is most important.”
Berkley’s family, which now includes five grandchildren, is especially delighted by his successes in writing. As his daughter-in-law Caron Berkley recently shared, “To see someone chase his dream is so inspiring. Ben’s literary accomplishments really underscore how having the courage to pursue your passion takes determination and hard work—but it can result in real magic.”
“In Defense of Guilt”
“In Defense of Guilt” follows the story of Lauren Hill, a driven defense attorney who has never lost a case. Representing a man accused of throwing his wife overboard on a cruise, chic, elegant and sophisticated Lauren begins to artfully present her case. But as the trial’s judge morphs into G-d (seen through Lauren’s eyes only), her life of infidelity, poor parenthood, and self-absorption is questioned by the Almighty as he charges Lauren with committing the seven deadly sins. But is this real or fantasy? Is Lauren on the edge of a nervous breakdown or is G-d presiding and ultimately deciding Lauren’s fate? “In Defense of Guilt” is a story of survival, self- discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.
Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major book sellers.
More info: www.BenBerkley.com