The “L” in LEAP stands for “Law,” but it could also be an abbreviation for “Literature,” given the Center’s regular appearances at book signings and author discussions. This week the LEAP Center enjoyed a talk by Patricia Hunt Holmes, whose first novel addresses the problem of international human trafficking.
Patricia Hunt Holmes spent three decades as an attorney for Vinson & Elkins, one of the largest law firms in the country. For the last two decades of her career, she was a partner at the law firm. She also has a Ph.D. in Russian and Asian History.
She’s a smart woman.
Following her retirement a few years ago, Holmes began taking workshops on writing, and the idea of a novel took shape. The result of that journey is “Searching for Pilar,” a novel that spans Mexico and the US, with much of the narrative set in Houston–one of the largest human trafficking hubs in the country.
Holmes began her talk by reading from the novel, focusing on a passage that lays out how a person might get ensnared in human trafficking. In this case, the novel’s main character, Pilar, shows up for a job interview, where she is drugged and kidnapped.
This scenario was inspired by a true event, and Holmes assiduously researched the novel to make it ring true. In fact, one of her sources was Linda Geffin, the former Chief of the Harris County Special Prosecution Unit. Indeed, Ms. Geffin attended the discussion, and thanked Holmes for “addressing a serious issue” in the form of a thriller so that “more people might become aware of this issue.”
Following the reading, Holmes offered a brief slide show, illuminating locations that inspired her work. Then, Dr. Sandra Frieden (Professor of German at UH), led an engaging Q & A with Holmes .
Following the discussion, Ms. Holmes signed books, chatted with new fans, and caught up with long-time friends.
While Holmes signed books, Bianca Saldierna was able to strike up a conversation with Ms. Geffin, who discussed the formation of the Special Prosecution Unit, and her own experiences as Chief. Ms. Geffin was engaging and helpful, offering an insight and advice to Saldierna, an aspiring attorney.
By the end of the event, it was just Saldierna, Geffin, and Holmes (and the nice folks at Brazos Bookstore), and this provided Geffin and Holmes a chance to catchup a bit and Saldierna a chance to learn from two experienced and successful attorneys.
It was Ms. Holmes’ first major book signing, and she handled it well. While providing an intriguing overview of the book, she also informed her audience of the seriousness of human trafficking in Houston, spent time with each member of the audience, and took time to help a young woman with a bright future.