Louisiana History as Backdrop for Debut Novel

By Maria Giordano,
Killer Nashville Staff

MHR Photo
Mike Rubin

You could say that Mike Rubin was destined to become a writer. It was as “they” say in his blood. His mother was a short story writer, his father a federal judge whose opinions are still quoted today, and his wife has written numerous television scripts and has served as a developmental editor of nonfiction books.

A Louisiana native and full-time attorney, Mike had already penned over forty articles for periodicals, newspapers, and law reviews, and several non-fiction law books, before taking up historical fiction.

His debut novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse”, combines many of his talents in what he calls a legal thriller.

“Although I have written a number of legal books and articles, my wife, Ayan, and I developed the story and characters of “The Cottoncrest Curse” during our daily, early morning walks,” Mike said. “We wanted to create a tale that dealt with issues of family identity, truth, justice, race, and religion in the context of a compelling, page-turning thriller.”

The story deals with three major questions that can apply to anyone, he added.

“Can we ever really know the whole truth about our family history?  If we learned the truth about our heritage, would it change our perception of others or ourselves?  And, do we have a responsibility to tell the unvarnished truth if it would hurt some but help others?”

RubinCOTTONCREST COVER_jktfront(HR)Cottoncrest is not a real plantation, but Rubin took care in creating the historical context surrounding the story because LSU Press, a university press that has a special concentration in southern history, published the book. His work was researched and vetted by historians for accuracy, he said.

He explained that his descriptions of plantation life, Civil War battles, how physicians cared for the wounded, the plight of both sharecroppers and former slaves, the details of raising sugar cane, the culture, the speech patterns, and the New Orleans locale are all historically accurate.

“Likewise, the historical events surrounding the famous separate-but-equal case of Plessy v. Ferguson, described in the novel, are true,” Mike said. “Attorney Louis Martinet, who is depicted in the novel, was a real person, a black lawyer succeeding in racist, post-Reconstruction Louisiana. It was Martinet who came up with the idea of creating a test case to vindicate the rights of former slaves under the 14th Amendment. Martinet had a great plan and solid legal theories, but unfortunately it took almost six decades before the United States Supreme Court came around to the views he had articulated in the 1890s and overruled Plessy with the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954, which figures in the storyline as well.”

Steeped in his Louisiana history and legal know-how, Mike will be attending the Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference for the first time. He looks forward to meeting with fans of thrillers, other writers, and making new friends.

Michael H. Rubin’s career has many facets.  A full-time attorney who is Chair of the Appellate Practice Team of the multi-state law firm of McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC, with offices ranging from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast up the East Coast from Florida to Washington D.C. to New York, he’s also been a professional jazz pianist, performing in the New Orleans French Quarter as well as a radio and television announcer.  A nationally-known public speaker and raconteur, he has given more than 400 presentations throughout the US, Canada, and England.  A prolific writer, he has authored a number of non-fiction books covering a variety of legal issues as well as writing over 40 articles for professional journals and periodicals; his writings are used in law schools and have been cited as authoritative by state and federal courts.  He’s been president of the Louisiana State Bar Association, the Bar Association of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and of the national American College of Real Estate Lawyers.  His debut novel, The Cottoncrest Curse, published in September of 2014 by the LSU Press, has been praised by Publishers Weekly as a “gripping debut mystery,” by James Carville as a “powerful epic,” and by Sheldon Siegel, New York Times best-selling thriller writer, as “impeccably researched, deftly plotted, and flawlessly executed.”