Interview with V Frank Asaro, author of ‘The Tortoise Shell Code’





V Frank Asaro is a lawyer, musician/composer, inventor and author/philosopher who began developing the theory of co-opetition not long after he was selected out of law school as lawyer-clerk to the California Courts of Appeal. He went on to receive the highest-category law career peer review, Martindale Hubbell rating, and appeared in Who’s Who in American Law, 98-99 and Who’s Who in the World 2000.

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Q: Thank you for this interview, Frank. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Tortoise Shell Code, is all about?

A:     It is a high-seas crime novel, but it is more than that. Ship sinking’s, romance, fisticuffs, revolution, courtroom drama, and a host of thought-provoking concepts of life spark the mind.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A:      Anthony Darren, the main character, is a young lawyer who reaches the pinnacle of success, but is caught in a rip-tide of barratry – conspiracy to sink a ship for insurance. He is innocent and spends a good part of his young life trying to free himself from the maelstrom of accusation and incarceration. He finally gains freedom through the strength of personal conviction together with the efforts of Laura – his love and sometime legal secretary – and his daughter Andrea. Not only does Andrea become his protégé, but she follows in his footsteps, becoming a great young lawyer herself. Anthony’s client and friend, Joe Cruz, and Moby, the giant helicopter pilot, add their weight and color to Anthony’s redemption.

While in prison, Anthony writes a philosophical work. It correlates to the reasons for his break-out; he is called to the double mission of helping with revolution in Costallegre, while on a quest to find the witness who can clear him.  He puts the theory of his book to good use.  And it plays a role in bringing peace to the Republic of Costallegre while proving his innocence.  At the same time he and Andrea take down those who framed him. The taste of revenge is reminiscent of the story of the Count of Monte Cristo. It should be noted that Anthony’s book incorporates the real-life concepts from Universal Co-opetition, your author’s non-fiction work, published in 2011.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A. The characters are taken from parts of real people and combinations thereof, but not all of one person.  So I would say that for the most part they are figments of creation with a good deal of back-up reality.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I wanted to talk about a series of independent events, most of them fictional.  I wove them through plots and subplots of my creation.

Q: Your book is set in San Diego, California and parts of Central America.  Can you tell us why you chose this city and the other locations in particular?

A: The story depicts the last days of the great American tuna fishing industry, which was home ported largely in San Diego.  The outcome is similar to what happened to the sardine industry in John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. From San Diego, first and second generations of Americans of Portuguese and Italian heritage and all their multi-million dollar ships, embarked for the fishing grounds.  These seiners traveled several thousands of miles along the eastern and western pacific to find schools of tuna.  Often, the tuna seiners put in for repairs at the ports of the fictional country of Costallegre, located in Central America.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: The setting and related travel form the highway of life of the story.

 Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: That happens to be a very pivotal page of the book.  Joe, the ship’s owner, is about ready to tell Poncho, his chief engineer –El hermano leche– milk brother, to watch out for an evil plot to sink the tuna boat while on her just-departing maiden voyage. He will give Poncho the Tortoise Shell Code.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: It is hard to pick a favorite, but coming quickly to mind is when Anthony’s defense counsel is cross-examining a prosecution witness who claims to have found the Lord and says he studies the bible.  Over a battery of objections, counsel wants to know if the witness would recite the Ten Commandments.  The witness cites some, but fails to state a crucial one.  Counsel cocks his head like an eagle and asks “…How about …Thou should not bear false witness against thy neighbor?  The stunned witness says he is sorry for forgetting.  Counsel says “You should be…”  The courtroom bursts into an uproar.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Frank.  We wish you much success!

A:  I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks,


V Frank Asaro


Off the coast of Southern California, the Sea Diva, a tuna boat, sinks. Members of the crew are missing and what happened remains a mystery. Anthony Darren, a renowned and wealthy lawyer at the top of his game, knows the boat’s owner and soon becomes involved in the case. As the case goes to trial, a missing crew member is believed to be at fault, but new evidence comes to light and the finger of guilt points in a completely unan­ticipated direction.

Now Anthony must pull together all his resources to find the truth in what has happened and free a wrongly accused man—as well as untangle himself. Fighting despair, he finds that the recent events have called much larger issues into question. As he struggles to right this terrible wrong, Anthony makes new and enlightening dis­coveries in his own life-long battle for personal and global justice.


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