Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blogoversary: Marcia Clark Interview & Giveaway

Welcome my blogoversary (year number two now, wow how the time flys), I am very happy to start off my Blogoversary Author Interviews and Giveaways with an author I just discovered in the past year who wrote a murder mystery novel with a great female protagonist (Guilt By Association). Who knew it would be by an individual who was a house hold name in the 1990s (I think I just dated my self there). Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:

Marcia Clark

Which was your first desired occupation as a child, Author or Lawyer or something else?
Author. I discovered Nancy Drew when I was about 6  years old, and that was the beginning of my addiction to crime (not as in committing it, just reading) both true and fiction, which continues to this day. I thought about writing novels off and on for years after that, but never mustered the guts, or the confidence – what if they didn’t sell? I really like living with indoor plumbing. But then I went to law school and  found a way to satisfy my obsession with crime. From the very first week, I knew I was going to practice only criminal law.

You are one of the most well known Los Angeles deputy district attorneys, what spurred the change to writing fiction novels?
After the Simpson trial, I was too emotionally shredded and disillusioned to stay in the D.A.’s office. I had to find a new career path. So I did a variety of things, like hosting on various cable shows, speaking appearances, correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, etc. Then I wound up getting hired as a consultant on a one hour drama that was based on the L.A.D.A.’s office. The creator of the show persuaded me to write a few scripts with her. And then we wound up creating some pilot scripts together for FX, Lifetime, and VH1. I think it was the fun of script writing that gave me the confidence to finally take a crack at writing a novel. A long, winding road, isn’t it? LOL. But I’m so happy to have found my way back to my childhood dream.

You are a media commentator and columnist on legal issues; do you think that you will always be involved law environment?
I hope so. I do love the law and I still practice, just not in the courtroom. I handle court appointed criminal cases on appeal, which keeps me current with what’s going on, legally speaking.

What was more challenging, the O. J. Simpson Trial or writing and trying to get a fiction novel published?
There is no comparison. O.J. Simpson was a nightmare from start to finish. Months before we started trial, we were told in no uncertain terms from a variety of sources that we had no chance of getting a conviction, that the best we could hope for was a hung jury. Still, I got up every morning with a fire in my gut, believing that I’d find a way to get the jury to see the truth, to do justice. Imagine throwing yourself at a brick wall all day, then going home, going to bed, and getting up the next morning…to do it all again. That’s what the trial was like.

Writing the novel? No question it was tough. And I actually wrote a few novels before I wrote the one that became Guilt by Association, the first in the Rachel Knight series. During those years, I was working full time on criminal appeals, which was an 80 hour a week endeavor. So I was working on the book from about midnight to four a.m. for a while. By about the fourth year, I got an agent interested, and spent that year taking notes from the agent’s assistants. But at the end of the year, they felt I hadn’t gotten there. And I agreed with them. We parted ways, and I thought long and hard about what didn’t work. I realized it was my story, so I threw it all out and started from scratch. I was pretty tired at that point, and there were many nights I’d be writing at two and three in the morning, thinking ‘no one may ever see this.’ But I knew I had to give it this one last try. I had to get it right, if only to prove to myself that I could. So it was by no means an easy road, but it doesn’t bear comparison to the trial.

Why do you think that the public had/has an obsession over the O. J. Simpson trial that it is still talked about today (as well as mentioned in every review of your book that I have read including my own)?
The Simpson trial presented a vortex of social issues at a time that was particularly emotionally raw, especially in Los Angeles. The Rodney King riots – the most violent mass uprising in the 20th century – had happened just two years before the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. Racial tensions were still at an all-time high. And the defendant was a wealthy, nationally famous football icon, who was African American. Just those factors alone would have been enough to grip national consciousness. And they still are. Even now, 18 years later, the coverage of Trayvon Martin’s killing immediately reached a feverish pitch, and most likely will again when the case goes to trial. Now add in the fact that back in 1994, technology for the first time, presented the media with the capability of televising all of the courtroom proceedings, gavel to gavel, nationwide to every major network. The issues the case presented – clearly still of searing impact today, the celebrity of the defendant, the constant coverage, all combined to make that case what some have tragically called the first hit reality show.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
They’re all challenging in their own way. I couldn’t say that any particular genre is harder or easier than any other. No matter what you’re writing – romance, thriller, noir, you’re always going to have to make yourself sit down and write every day for months at a time. Then rewrite. And rewrite again. Then take notes and rewrite again. Best selling thriller writer Joe Finder has a great quote in his email signature: "Writing is manual labor of the mind: a job, like laying pipe."
—John Gregory Dunne
I think that sums it up nicely!

I know it has been said that a legal mystery can be a hard genre to write because of the need for accuracy. What do you think are essential aspects when writing a legal mystery?
I agree that legal mystery requires some degree of accuracy. Verisimilitude is part of the attraction to the genre, the sense that the story, even though outlandish at times, could be true. You can’t deliver that feeling unless the story is procedurally correct, whether it’s in the field doing an investigation, or in the courtroom. For example, when there’s a courtroom scene, the testimony, the questioning, the objections and the judge’s rulings, have to be as realistic as possible, even if somewhat overly dramatized, or the readers will walk away. Today’s readers have seen so many real trials and case investigations on television, they know what actually happens, so you can’t take too much artistic license. You can take dramatic license, in fact you must. But procedurally speaking, you’ve got to keep it real.
Since you have the experience of being a prosecutor, did you find that it was easy to draw on your experiences and put them into a book? Was it important to you to have a realism factor in what Rachel experiences and investigates within the book?
Yes, I do think it was a distinct advantage that I’ve practiced criminal law for so many years – both as a defense attorney and a prosecutor. I know how things go in a criminal case, and that means there’s a certain amount of research I don’t have to do. And  I can’t help but put my own experience into the books. You write what you know, right? That doesn’t mean that the characters, the stories, are literally ripped from real people or cases. They’re not. What I would say is that having spent my life as a criminal lawyer, the people I’ve met, the things of seen, all inform the characters and stories I create.

As for realism, yes, it’s important to me. As I said, I think readers of this genre expect the procedures, the legalities, to be correct. I know I do. So I make the investigation, the action in court – basically all the procedural aspects – as accurate as possible. Personally, when I run into something in a story that I know could never happen, it takes me out of the moment. I never want a reader to feel that way with my books.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
I do! “Killer Ambition,” the third novel in the Rachel Knight series, comes out next year. I call that the Hollywood book because it involves a world famous film director and his teenage daughter. And in “Killer Ambition” Rachel goes to trial. I wanted to show readers an entire case from beginning to end, so this book will take you from the moment Detective Bailey Keller (Rachel’s BFF), first gets the call, all the way to the jury verdict.

And, exciting news: cable network TNT has optioned the books for a one hour drama series. I’m attached as executive producer, and Dee Johnson, who’s attached as showrunner/executive producer, will write the pilot. Nelson McCormick is attached as director/executive producer.

What is one book on your shelf that you cannot wait to read (can either be a new or old favorite).
One? Seriously? No, I can’t pick just one. I’ve got such a long list of “To Read” I’d need another page for this interview! But I will share what I’m reading right now: Stephen King’s, “11/22/63.” This is big time excitement for me. I love his writing but haven’t been able to read him because he scares the bejeezus out of me. LOL! It’s a tribute to his talent, but it’s been a bummer not to be able to read his work. So I’m glad to finally be able to read this book, and I’m loving it. Btw, for anyone who wants to write, I highly recommend his book, “On Writing.” It’s fantastic.

Marcia Clark has now become an author to watch out for outside of the courtroom and I recommend her novels for those who are looking for a book that accurately portrays the work of a Deputy District Attorney but does not limit the suspense and thrills. Marcia has very nice supplied two of her books for a giveaway to help me celebrate (enter with Rafflecopter below, open to USA residents only). I want to say Thank You once again to Marcia for being part of my Blogoversary and make sure to check back in a few days to see who the next author who is going to be featured.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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