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Marcia Clark: LibraryThing Author Interview

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Marcia Clark, a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, was the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Her debut novel, Guilt by Association is out this month from Mulholland Books. Clark lives in L.A.

What made you decide to write a novel? Did you enjoy it more than writing non-fiction?

I've always wanted to write a novel, and over the years, story ideas would come to me, that would make me want to get busy and do it. But it wasn't until about five years ago that I really decided to get off my duff do it. It was one of those "now or never" things.

I always wanted to write the kind of book I like to read, and I've always loved mystery/thriller novels. Though non-fiction can be fascinating, fiction gives you the freedom to create a whole world; a story that intrigues you, the kind of characters you want to explore, the issues that interest you. Its hard work, no question, but it's a lot of fun.

Did you find that real-life experiences or cases influenced the plot of Guilt By Association?

Definitely, though not in any direct or specific way. Real-life experiences gave me the general idea to fashion stories around people leading secret lives, the things they choose to keep hidden, and the mash-up of good and bad in all people. But the story was pure fiction. I never had a case like either of the ones in the book.

Rachel Knight and her associates seem generally comfortable with, shall we say, breaking the rules. Did you observe similar behaviors during your time in the DA's office?

Oh, no you don't. Book or no, I've still got the right to remain silent.

Are there any lines or scenes in the book of which you are especially fond?

When did you laugh? When were you moved? Those are the scenes and lines I'm most fond of.

What's some quirky aspect of your writing process?

Define quirky.

Writing in the nude? I don't do that—too cold. And too upsetting.

Writing in high heels? What would it matter? I'm sitting down. Anyway, I don't do that, either.

Writing with a quill pen? I don't do that. It would be silly. Which is probably why no one does it.

So you probably wouldn’t call my process quirky.

I like to write continuously until the book is done. So I'll write for as many hours a day as I can stand without going brain dead and cross-eyed, for as many straight days as possible. It helps keep me in the moment and totally immersed in the story. After I've finished, I'll put it aside for as long as possible. Then I'll go back and take the first editing pass.

What authors or books did you love as a child?

I was a huge Sci-Fi nut. Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Damon Knight ... I could go on and on. But before that, I was addicted to Nancy Drew. She was my hero. Even after I cracked the formula—that every time her dad went away on business, she got into something—I still loved it.

What are a few of your favorite crime novels?

All of the books by James Ellroy and Robert B. Parker. And William Diehl, Laura Lippman, David Baldacci, James Lee Burke. I've got to stop, there are so many terrific authors out there, and I'll never be able to name them all.

What's on your bookshelves?

All of the above and many, many more. Oh! Rafael Yglesias – Dr. Neruda's Cure for Evil, among others he’s written. See what I mean? Impossible to remember everyone, just impossible.

What are you reading now?

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott. A terrific book. And I love her writing too. Can we add her to the list? I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night and remember more authors I wanted to mention, I just know it.

Can we expect another Rachel Knight novel soon?

Yes! I've just finished the second book, tentatively titled Guilt by Degrees. Writing these novels is my bliss, so I hope to be writing Rachel Knight novels for a long time to come.

—interview by Jeremy Dibbell

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About author interviews

Each month we feature a few exclusive interviews with authors in our "State of the Thing" newsletter. Know an author who might want to be interviewed? Find out more.


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