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Woody Hanstein lives in Farmington, Maine and has been a trial lawyer for thirty years.  He is the author of six published mysteries: Not Proven, Cold Snap, State’s Witness, Mistrial, Sucker’s Bet and Alibi Blonde and a number of short stories. He teaches at the University of Maine at Farmington and coaches that college’s rugby team. He is also the founder of the Smiling Goat Precision Juggling Corps.

In “Endgame,” a lonely young man befriends an older neighbor toward the end of his life and as a result receives a legacy.  What was your inspiration for this story?

There really was no inspiration for “Endgame” – I started with an overly timid school teacher and decided he should receive a letter which might shake him out of his doldrums.  I play chess infrequently and badly, but somehow that game still ended up being the passion which tied the young teacher to his elderly neighbor.

The villain in your story, in some ways, is a big bank. Given the turmoil of the last few years, are you making a statement here?

I really never thought of the bank as the villain – it really just got (to the penny!) what was coming to it for cheating an employee.  It’s not a very lawyerly thing to say, but “self-help” can sometimes be a far better way of obtaining justice than simply accepting what a courtroom will produce.  (And now that I think about it, a number of my past Level Best stories have had a “self-help” kind of theme).

What are you working on now?

In my spare time I’m working on another Pete Morris mystery, but I am getting side-tracked both by my efforts to recruit jugglers for the Smiling Goat Precision Juggling Corps — Maine’s pre-eminent (and only) troupe of marching jugglers and also to help prepare my UMF college rugby team to defend its Maine Championship next month.