Life Imitates Art for Linda Fairstein

We’re suckers for a good love story, so we couldn’t resist when we heard that Linda Fairstein eloped with her very best friend, just as her longtime protagonist Alex Cooper was finding love with her own companion in Devil's Bridge. It’s a charming tale we know you’ll love. Take it away, Linda!

The first novel in my series featuring New York City sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, Final Jeopardy, was published twenty years ago. I gave Alex an NYPD homicide detective, Mike Chapman, to partner with on solving the city’s highest profile cases. Mike is brainy and handsome, good-humored and sexy — but at the outset I had absolutely no vision of a long-term plan for anything except their professional relationship, even though the sexual tension between the couple is what fueled the element of romantic suspense in these capers. This summer, the 17th novel in the series, Devil’s Bridge, will be published, and much to the delight of many of my readers, Coop and Chapman have turned their partnership into an intimate one.

There’s an old adage we all know that says life imitates art, or — as I have often wondered throughout the last year — is it that art imitates life?

Last September, I eloped with my best friend of 45 years, Mike Goldberg, turning a very long-time friendship into a most unexpected romance. The timing was uncanny, as my Mike and Coop’s Mike entered new phases of their lives at the very same point in time.

I graduated from Vassar College — then an “all-female” institution in 1969, having chosen that superb liberal arts school to major in English literature, with dreams of writing novels someday. I realized I needed a career to support myself, and decided on the University of Virginia School of Law for my next degree, in order to pursue a job in public service, my other keen interest. There were 340 students who entered with me — about a dozen of them were women — and most of our class assignments placed us in alphabetical order for seating. The first day of school I met Mike, by virtue of the alphabet. He had already married months earlier, and we launched on a friendship that carried us through the next four decades — often double-dating, studying together, dining with friends and family — and always with a remarkable gift for making each other laugh.

In 1972, Mike headed for Manhattan to take a job with a prestigious law firm, he was top of our class, with a little help from my compulsively neat class notes, while I went in the same direction for a position with the great District Attorney’s Office there, where I was put in charge of the country’s pioneering Special Victims’ Unit four years later. It's the same job I gave to Coop when I sat down to pen her adventures. Hardly a day went by that Mike and I didn't talk with each other, throughout good times and difficult ones. I remained in that office for 30 years, until 2002, by which time I had published my non-fiction book and five Alexandra Cooper crime novels. There was no shortage of material to draw upon, and the work was richly fulfilling.

In 1987, I married a spectacular guy, Justin Feldman, who was 28 years my senior. We had the kind of love story that I believed only came along once in a lifetime. And when Justin died in 2011, at home with me at the age of 92, I was more than content, having enjoyed the pleasures of a great, long marriage.

Throughout all those years, Mike checked in on us when Justin and I left for our home on Martha’s Vineyard, where I spent most of each summer scripting Coop’s stories. And I got to watch with enormous pride as Mike’s kids matured to adulthood.  He was able to find joy in the ranch he built for his family in Montana, and he relaxed on his yacht, an entirely self-made man in the Caribbean. Life had treated us both quite well.

Two years after I was widowed, and after Mike’s marriage ended in a separation, he asked me if we could start dating. I approached the idea with great trepidation, afraid that if romance did not work for us, I would be compromising one of the best friendships I'd ever had. The thought of losing the guy who had been my closest friend for four decades terrified me. I should have known, instead, that the trust, loyalty, warmth and affection that had infused our relationship for so very long would be a natural foundation for falling in love — at any age.

So it’s still very mysterious to me that I was plotting to put Alex Cooper and Mike Chapman under the covers together just as my own love life was ratcheting up a notch.  Coincidence? The workings of my over-active imagination?

I have come to believe that in this case, life has indeed imitated art. It’s a wonderfully happy thing that romance came to Alex Cooper, and to me, at the very same moment.

Well, now you have to read Devil's Bridge, out this week! And for more mysterious tales, be sure to visit our Everything Mystery page.