From Law To Gothic Fiction: My Journey From Lincoln’s Inn To Vernon Hall

From Law To Gothic Fiction: My Journey From Lincoln’s Inn To Vernon Hall

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein aptly describes the strength of reason and facts versus the power of one’s thoughts and imagination, yet many a times these antithetical notions tend to overlap. A prime example of this is a piece of fiction where the author creates a unique setting with a fascinating set of characters but at the very core of which lies an intricate mystery or legal drama that can only be deconstructed by the reader’s logical astuteness.

Being a barrister by profession alongside being a fiction writer, I can personally vouch for how fascinating it is to delve into the very recesses of one’s imagination – in my case, to explore uncharted territory and pen it down in the form of a book. My academic career commenced during my time in the UK where I seemed to excel in the subject of English literature but decided to pursue a career in law instead, hoping that I would, one day, stand with victims of injustice and advocate for their rights and liberties. I studied law from King’s College, London and pursued an LLM degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, specialising in Criminology and Criminal Justice. I studied for the Bar Vocational Course from BPP Law School and was subsequently called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn.

While I currently work as a legal consultant for a firm and conduct trainings for professionals, I feel that my passion for writing and literature has led me to a very enchanting path. I finally surrendered to the power of my imagination and wrote my debut novel, The Rose Within – a Gothic Romance, which was published in the UK.

Although The Rose Within is primarily a Gothic novel reminiscent of traditional Gothic works such as Rebecca, The Woman in White and even Jane Eyre, the book has other universal themes as well which we experience in legal practice all the time. To start with, and to rather put it in black and white terms, it is a struggle between good and evil, whether in the context of criminal law, human rights or even labour laws.

As part of my LLM degree, I studied mental health law which shed light on the many wrongs that had been inflicted on victims of mental illnesses in earlier times and how brutally those victims had been treated in what were termed as ‘lunatic asylums’. It is, of course, despairing to witness such cruelty in the modern world with all our technological advances and our rhetoric regarding human rights, but the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and the chasm in the legislative framework of mental health and its actual implementation, are all tragically very real. This is something I have touched upon quite vehemently in The Rose Within by illustrating it in the life of one of the leading characters and the struggles faced by her as a victim of trauma.

For those wondering how the Gothic theme ties in with the legal themes: Gothic culture isn’t just about ghouls and goblins, it focuses on many significant legal issues such as property matters, inheritance, wills, and of course to add to the suspense there is always an element of fraud and deceit, as well as murder and conspiracy to conceal the fraud and deceit. There is plenty of this in The Rose Within, in fact, an entire chapter in the novel is dedicated to an inquest and most lawyers who are fans of John Grisham novels or even earlier Dickensian courtroom dramas such as Bleak House, will find it to be a fascinating read.

I wanted to do more with my book and having been deeply inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical, The Phantom of the Opera, I also composed songs and a music video for the book, aiming for it to be adapted as a cinematic production in due course, god willing. To my surprise, the book ended up being a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2016 and even won a silver medal in the ‘Mystery Fiction’ category of the Global E-Book Awards 2017.

My second novel, Vernon Hall & Other Stories has recently been published and is available at Liberty Books. This one contains Gothic themes as well and you just might find ghouls and vampires too. But remember, such Gothic characters are always metaphors for societal, cultural and sometimes even legal issues.

I have mainly focused on morality in Vernon Hall & Other Stories where each of the four stories embodies significant moral themes. There is often an overlap between law and morality and indeed, at the very core of laws internationally, exist universal principles of morality, such as right versus wrong and fairness versus injustice. My latest book, with its vivid stories and extraordinary characters, takes one to a completely spectacular realm where logic and imagination become intertwined. In the words of Jordana Landsman, who reviewed my book on behalf of the US Review of Books:

“With sympathetic characters and apt atmospheric descriptions, this collection is a fun-filled and appropriately sinister monster mash of evil monks, werewolves, angry ghosts, embalmed corpses, and haunted houses. The action and introspection are well-balanced, and…the emphasis stays squarely where it belongs—with the central characters who are navigating life and livelihood while being distracted and thwarted by forces beyond their understanding and control.”

My journey from Lincoln’s Inn – one of the renowned Inns of Court and an arena for lawyers and judges – to the fictional world of Vernon Hall – an imaginary castle by the sea with ghosts and ancient secrets – has been an absolutely exhilarating one! Quite frankly, the extremes of law and logic and my wild imagination have successfully complemented one another and I think this interconnected path of law and writing has been the one I was destined to embark upon.

“Sometimes God pushes you on a path you never thought you would take and the spiritual journey that lies ahead, is often a life-changing one.”
– Vernon Hall & Other Stories.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any other organization with which she might be associated.

Sana Pirzada

Author: Sana Pirzada

The writer is a qualified Barrister from the UK. She has studied Law from King’s College, London and specialised in Criminology for her LLM from the London School of Economics. She offers legal consultancy services in Karachi and alongside pursues her passion of fiction writing. Her debut novel ‘The Rose Within – A Gothic Romance’ has been published in the UK.