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Restoring Passion and Purpose with Legal Thriller Novelist, Oliver Hayden Harris

February 7 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Inspiring Adventures with Miz Meliz featuring Author, Oliver Hayden Harris

Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 6:00 pm Pacific

Restoring Passion and Purpose

If you ask Oliver Hayden Harris what he likes to talk about he will tell you,Police Violence, government corruption, political science, science science, cosmology, the Second World War.” I know, because I asked him. I was not sure if I would have much to talk to him about in my upcoming interview on Inspiring Adventures. Yet, I am always interested in what inspires people to make a change in their life. I knew that Oliver had spent his life as an attorney, and now has begun a career as a novelist. I am interested in discovering what it took for him to restore the passion and purpose in his life.

Oliver Harris was inspired foremost by his parents, who encouraged him to read, study, experience music and the arts. Other inspirations are great men in history, such as Washington and Lincoln, Churchill and Roosevelt. Also great, breakthrough, scientists such as Galileo, Kepler, Darwin, Newton and Einstein inspired him. His final inspiration was his alma mater, the University of Chicago, with its broad cross-disciplinary course of study, encompassing Literature, Music, Politics, Mathematics, Science, History and Philosophy.

It doesn’t surprise me that an educated, intensely motivated, well-read man would turn to writing as a passion.

Many Americans in the latter stage of a career – or even already in retirement – have discovered that it’s never too late to reinvent themselves. Folk artist Grandma Moses was in her late 70s before she began her painting career. Colonel Harland Sanders was in his 60s when he launched Kentucky Fried Chicken. Arnold Schwarzenegger reinvented himself a couple of times, going from professional body builder to actor to governor of California.

“Sometimes referred to as “encore careers,” these second acts can reinvigorate you and give you a reason to greet each day with anticipation, says Oliver Harris, who wrote his first novel after working for more than four decades as an attorney, including as a criminal-defense lawyer in Chicago.”

jo-jo“In my case, I was able to incorporate elements from my original career in law into my encore career as a writer,” says Harris, who put his knowledge of Chicago’s crime and corruption to use in his novel “JoJo” (www.readjojo.com).

“I’m still working as a lawyer, and I work nights on my writing,” Harris says. “So, I’ve pretty much added a second career into my life.”

He has tips for others who also feel the urge to reinvent themselves late in life:

• Realize that purpose is important. After years in the same profession, it’s easy to become burned out and to operate on auto pilot as you perform the tasks of your job. Essentially, people can lose their sense of purpose. When they reinvent themselves, that purpose can be reignited. “You’re much more likely to be successful when you’re driven by a sense of purpose,” Harris says.
• Find what excites you. Harris says he always wanted to write, so it was not surprising that pounding out a novel could become a passion for him. If you’re reinventing yourself, the reinvention might as well center on something you’re passionate about. That could mean returning to college to earn a degree, learning to play a musical instrument, or embarking on the career you dreamed of as a child but put aside for more practical pursuits.
• Don’t convince yourself that it’s too late. It’s not, Harris says. Many years ago, the newspaper advice columnist Dear Abby received a letter from a 36-year-old college dropout who wanted to return to school to become a doctor. But this would-be physician worried that it would take at least seven years to finish all the schooling. “In seven years I’ll be 43,” the letter writer lamented. Abby responded with a question. “How old will you be in seven years if you don’t go back to college?” As it happens, Harris spent seven years working on “JoJo,” setting aside writing time between 11 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Burning the midnight oil paid off, so it definitely wasn’t too late to get started, he says.

Harris believes it’s important to put your mind to its full use.

 “With law I was only using part of my brain,” he says. “I wanted to use all of my brain and what I am capable of, which is why I began writing my novel.”

headshotOliver Harris

Oliver Harris, author of the legal thriller “JoJo” (www.readjojo.com), has spent 45 years as a trial lawyer, prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He has worked in both Chicago and in Palm Beach County, Florida. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Chicago and his law degree is from the Indiana University School of Law.

“I spend most of my leisure time reading. Subjects can be as diverse as The Trial of Socrates, Darwin, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Quantum Mechanics, current novels by writers such as Jay McInerney and Michael Koryta, and many of the classics such as Bleak House, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment and the novels of Jane Austen, to name just a few in each category.”

“Jojo was inspired by an idealistic woman lawyer I knew, whose idealism always got her in to trouble with bad and powerful people. A young, idealistic woman lawyer joins a large law firm in a big city where she finds corruption, disillusionment and murder. She has the mind of Voltaire, the vocabulary of a truck driver, and the soul of Blanche Dubois. She is an early victim of sexism in the legal profession. She is intrepid and fights City Hall. Her fragile soul encounters and suffers the Moloch of the City, its courts, its politics and its police. The narrator has fallen in love with her, but she disappears without a trace one November. The police suspect that the narrator has abducted and killed her. The narrator thinks she may have been murdered by the Mob because of her involvement in city politics, and the award of a city-wide cable franchise. The narrator finds himself trying to decode what happened to her by tracking her life through the corrupt and murderous City, as it is related in her letters and journals.”