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Life Inside The Courtroom, A More Honest Take

Allison Leotta was a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington D.C. for more than a decade. Every day when she came home from work, she would think to herself, “I can’t believe what I saw today…someone should write about this.”

She began writing in the mornings before work and at night when she got home. In 2011, Leotta left the Justice Department to write full-time. She has now written four novels about a prosecutor named Anna Curtis, and people often refer to Leotta as “the female John Grisham.”

Host Frank Stasio talks to Allison Leotta about her latest novel “A Good Killing” (Simon&Schuster 2015) and how she turns her real-life courtroom experience into fictional drama. Leotta reads from her book atBarnes & Noble in Cary tonight at 7 p.m.

Leotta grew up with the legal system in her blood. Her father worked as a federal prosecutor in Detroit, and she followed in his footsteps after attending Harvard Law School. Her husband was also a federal prosecutor in Baltimore.

Though she enjoyed her 12 years in the courtroom, she found a new love in writing with her Anna Curtis series. In addition to books, Leotta maintains a blog called “Prime Time Crime Review” in which she fact checks crime dramas on TV.

“It’s very cathartic,” Leotta says. “I used to just throw popcorn at the TV. This is much more rewarding.”

Shows like “Law and Order” and “CSI” make for good television, and Leotta enjoys those type of shows, but she says it creates what’s called the “CSI Effect.”

“Part of the challenge of a real life prosecutor is combatting the expectations of the juror, who come in expecting the Harry Potter magic science that they’ve seen on ‘CSI,’” Leotta says.

After publishing her first novel, her publisher wanted her to continue the craft. “That was one of the best moments of my entire life when I was asked to continue this series,” Leotta says. “I knew I just had to seize that moment.”

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Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.