Even after writing a successful novel that has been made into a movie, Ahwatukee Foothills author Landon J. Napoleon is still relatively unknown.
"With all my success I still feel like the Valley's best kept secret. But I think that has the potential to change," he said.
Napoleon, who has been an author, essayist and journalist for 20 years, has high hopes that his planned seven-book legal drama series will launch him into recognition.
The first book, The Rules of Action, debuted this summer and covers the first 10 years of a prominent Phoenix lawyer's career.
The novel is a work of fiction, but that doesn't mean Napoleon didn't thoroughly research his subject. Napoleon said he immersed himself in the legal world; spending endless hours with his source and sitting through an entire murder trial.
"I think real life makes the best fiction. Many of the characters and things that happen in the book are better than anything I could have made up. I spent five years of my life doing everything in my power to make it the best it can be, and I really believe this is good," Napoleon said.
Agreeing with Napoleon, Amazon reviewer P-Funk said, "I am in the grieving period one goes through after being immersed in the world of a well-crafted book and then having it end all too soon ... I can't wait for the next installment in the series."
Online reviews can make or break a sale, but Napoleon's three most important critics have yet to weigh in.
The high-profile attorney the book is based on, Hollywood writer David S. Goyer and Napoleon's wife all have read or are currently reading The Rules of Action, and who knows what possibilities could come from that.
Maybe another adapted movie deal?
Before becoming a co-writer of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Goyer sent Napoleon's first novel ZigZag to the big screen in 2002.
"For your book to become a movie is every author's dream," Napoleon said, adding that he thinks The Rules of Action would be even better fitted as a movie than ZigZag because of the way the story is woven together.
Set in the 1970s, the book follows Connor J. Devlin - Napoleon's re-creation of the anonymous lawyer - as he graduates from law school and enters a "long fight against corporate greed and indifference," according to Napoleon's website.
The next six books will mirror a detective series that follow the same set of characters but incorporate different cases. The series will cover the full 35 years of the attorney's career in law.
Napoleon estimates he spent thousands of hours sitting in his home office with his English Bulldog snoring at his feet while he wrote, re-wrote and edited the novel.
A process he hopes will go more quickly with the second book, The Dark Action, which he expects to have finished by the end of 2011.
Napoleon will be hosting a Q&A session, reading and book signing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 17 at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe.
He is also teaching a writing workshop focused on writing successful openings at the same location from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sept. 25.
Napoleon encourages writers of all levels to participate and said, "Writing is like a muscle. You have to use it and train it. I don't only write fiction, but everything I write helps my fiction."
He offers another piece of advice to aspiring authors: "Read everything. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies ... pick up a romance or vampire novel. Read something you wouldn't normally read."
The Rules of Action is selling nationwide in bookstores and online for $18.95. For more information on Napoleon, visit his website at www.LandonJNapoleon.com.
Erica Tiffany is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.