Celebrated crime author Patricia Cornwell regrets ignoring a simple piece of financial advice from media mogul Oprah Winfrey early on in her career because it could have saved her from a lengthy legal battle with her accountants.
The American novelist, best known for creating literary sleuth Dr. Kay Scarpetta, took bosses at New York-based company Anchin, Block & Anchin to court amid claims up to $40 million (£25 million) was missing from her accounts after they were put in charge of her and her partner Staci Gruber's money matters.
She was handed victory in the federal case earlier this month (Feb13) and awarded a $51 million (£32 million) settlement - but she confesses the financial trouble could all have been avoided had she listened to Winfrey and veteran U.S. radio personality Don Imus years ago.
Discussing the lessons learned from the legal triumph with U.S. Tv presenter Katie Couric, she says, "Don't trust blindly. First and foremost, make sure you know the people who are managing your funds and make sure they know you really well. You have to take the time to do that.
"Now, for example, Staci signs all our cheques; we won't trust someone else to do that for us anymore. Actually Oprah and Don Imus told me years ago, 'Sign your own cheques'. I was like, 'Oh, come on, who does that anymore?' and now it's like, 'You were right'; they were right."
Cornwell is relieved to put the troubles behind her and she is hoping to donate a chunk of her winnings to aid medical research.
She reveals, "I know that Staci and I want to take a percentage of it and do something really great with it, like maybe furthering psychiatric and mental health research, things that... can help alleviate suffering... People talk about (my) spending of money but I've also always given a lot of it away and that's probably my greatest privilege, so we hope we can make the world a slightly better place because of this."