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Lawyer and writer Robert Rotenberg reads on his grandmother's sofa in his downtown Toronto office.

Tim Fraser/tim fraser The Globe and Mail

When I sold my first novel, Old City Hall, and signed up for a couple more, I was still working full-time as a criminal lawyer. Getting enough time to finish the second book, The Guilty Plea, meant I had to turn over the murder trials to my partners, give up my downtown office and write on the living-room couch of our semi-detached home.

The temptations of the kitchen, and all those luscious cookbooks, were the inevitable distraction, and soon I was wandering from coffee shop to coffee shop, laptop in hand. Last October, I was talking to Eddie Greenspan, one of my key readers, who owns a downtown bank building. "Eddie," I blurted out, "all I need is a door and a window."

He had just the thing. A small space where I've moved in my books, my posters, my trinkets and my grandmother's old couch, where on a good day, once I've done five or six hours of writing and dealt with my clients, I'll curl up and read. This week, I started The Free World, by David Bezmozgis, with whom I studied at the Humber School of Writing. Already I'm transported into another world by his precise, moving prose.

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Robert Rotenberg is a Toronto lawyer, the former editor of T.O., The Magazine of Toronto, and the author of two legal thrillers set in Toronto.

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