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Cyrus Webb Radio Interview Podcast

WRKO Interview - 2008

2008 Chet Curtis Interview - 8 In The Box

Q. Raffi, you were a prosecutor for 11 years. What made you decide to become a prosecutor?

A. When I became a lawyer, I wanted to work at a job where I felt I was making a difference in people's lives, not just bringing home a paycheck. It was rewarding work trying to make neighborhoods safe for people to live, work and play in without fear of violence.

Q. But you are now in private practice as a criminal defense attorney trying to free the same people you fought to put in jail for so many years. Isn't your work hurting the people in the neighborhoods you were trying to make safe?

A. I don't think so. More than anything else, I believe in our criminal justice system. In order for the system to work, we need to have lawyers fighting for the accused and forcing the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. In my new position as a defense attorney, I am still trying to make a difference in people's lives by ensuring that criminal defendants, especially indigent ones, are treated fairly within the system.

Q. As a prosecutor (at the time of writing Eight in the Box ), how did you justify writing a novel about a serial killer?

A. This is something I struggled with from the beginning. I did not want to write anything that would perpetuate violence against anyone, especially those who are most often the victims to these types of crimes, women and children. I believe that I have achieved my goal in this regard.

Q. What does the title Eight in the Box mean?

A. It is a phrase we used to describe jury trials when I was a young prosecutor just starting out in the district attorney's office. For the misdemeanor offenses being tried in district court the accused has a right to be tried by a jury, but it is only a six person jury with two alternates. So if a defendant refused to plead guilty to a charge, we would just say to the defense attorney, “That's fine. Let's put eight in the box, swear them in and let them decide if he did it.”

Q. How did you come up with the idea for Eight in the Box ?

A. As a young assistant district attorney, I was in court one day talking with another ADA and a Boston cop. The two of them were carrying on about a certain author who they thought was the best “serial killer” writer. The conversation piqued my curiosity, so I borrowed a book by this author from one of them and read it. As I read the novel I kept telling my wife that I could write a book like this. Being a writer herself, my wife encouraged me to do it.

I didn't have an idea for my book yet, but I knew that I had to come up with something different if it was going to be any good. Then one morning I was in the shower and the idea came to me, and Eight in the Box was conceived.

Q. You have a two book contract with Ballantine/Random House. Do you have an idea for your next book?

A. I believe that I have a strong cast of characters in Eight in the Box and that my readers would like know where they go from here. So, book two will be a sequel of sorts, with some of the same characters, the ones that are still alive.

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