Friday, July 27, 2012


I must start this interview by saying I've gotten to know Marcia better over the last week, and she is one great lady.  She's down to earth, funny, and very generous.  I'd like to thank her for taking the time to stop by.

Marcia Clark, a former prosecutor who gained fame as the head prosecutor in the OJ Simpson murder case, added the title of author to her resume several years ago.  She writes a series of successful books based on the character, Rachel Knight, who happens to be a Deputy District Attorney.  I've had the pleasure of getting hooked.  I recommend you begin this series with the first one, "Guilt by Association"

What made you want to become a writer?  Where did the idea of Rachel Knight come from?

I’ve always wanted to write fiction, and specifically crime fiction, ever since I was a kid and found myself addicted to Nancy Drew. But I didn’t have the confidence to take the plunge and try to make a living at it. In hindsight, I think my addiction to crime stories probably had something to do with my decision to practice criminal law. I knew that was what I’d do from the first month in law school. Then I joined the D.A.’s office and well, you know…

I didn’t revisit my childhood dream of becoming a novelist until I’d done some writing for television. I think that experience gave me the confidence to give it a shot. 

The idea of Rachel Knight came straight out of my life as a prosecutor. The life of a real prosecutor, the one I had before the insanity of the Simpson trial. I wanted to relive – and share with everyone – the incredible experience of being a prosecutor in the Special Trials Unit in Los Angeles. 

How long did it take you to write the first book?

There were actually a few “first” books before I got to Guilt by Association.  I took a lot of runs at it before I got to the point where I had the right mix of characters and plot. But once I put that mosaic together, it took me about nine months. I think it would’ve taken a lot less time had I not been carrying a full case load at the time. I do court appointed cases on appeal, which is all written work, no trials. The good news about doing appellate work is that you can write your own hours. The bad news is that the hours total about eighty per week. So I did a lot of midnight to four a.m. sessions on the book.

Where do you get your character inspirations come from?

They all came from Rachel. I envisioned her first, then built outward from there, asking myself, “who would she be friends with?” And, in the course of the story, I always plot it out based on what would really happen next, and who might Rachel and Bailey run across as they investigate. I also had to figure out where Rachel lived. A character’s living situation is an important means of showing who he or she is. So I asked myself, “where would Rachel live?” Rachel has close friends, but she acquired them slowly, over time. Her early childhood trauma left her guarded, wary, and desirous of anonymity. 

Taking those traits into account I…well, wait, true confession time: there was another consideration that came into the mix. My own fantasy. I am not a big fan of housework and cooking, so I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if she lived in a five star hotel?” That seemed like a realistic fit for Rachel, given her “issues” and so I found a way for Rachel to live at the Biltmore Hotel, which is a landmark hotel in downtown L.A., close to the courthouse. In the second book, “Guilt by Degrees,” I gave Rachel an upgrade to a suite, so she could have her best friends, Detective Bailey Keller and fellow prosecutor, Toni LaCollette, crash with her after a night of partying.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

For the first draft, I make myself sit and write nonstop for at least six hours a day, six to seven days a week. I write continuously so I can keep a feel for the pacing and stay inside the story. Once I’m through the first draft, I take as much time away from the book as I can before I do the first rewrite so I can bring fresh eyes.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?  If so, do you have some tips to break the spell?

I never have writer’s block. Ideas flow freely and constantly and all I have to do is dip a ladle into that stream for the next book or story. Doubling over with laughter now. Hold on, I’m still laughing, I need to take a second.

Okay, I’m back. Do I ever have writer’s block? Every single day. I don’t have any magical answers for how to break through. My way is simple and painful: I make myself sit in front of the computer and bang out every stupid idea that comes to mind until something decent falls out. I won’t necessarily stay with whatever I land on, but that “system” seems to get the juices flowing. Eventually.

Can you tell us about any challenges getting your first book published?  

I traveled a weird and backwards road to publication. When I finally finished writing “Guilt by Association,” I realized I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t have an agent, didn’t know any publishers – in fact, didn’t know anything about the publishing business. All my professional writing experience had been in television. So I asked my dear friend, Lynn Reed, an avid reader who had been involved in book clubs and blogs, for advice. She introduced me to award winning literary fiction writer Katharine Weber, who introduced me to then-Random House editor, John Glusman. And John really liked the book. He told me I had to have an agent and set me up with interviews. I got lucky and scored the best agent in the universe (let me tell you, those interplanetary interviews are a bitch), Dan Conaway at Writer’s House, and Judy Clain at Little, Brown/Mulholland Books, the best editor in the universe (again, lots of space travel involved). Though I didn’t wind up with John Glusman, I really loved him and would recommend him to anyone looking for a terrific editor.

Do you have any advice or suggestions for aspiring writers?

The best advice I can give is the advice Stephen King gave in his fantastic book, “On Writing:” READ. Read every day, read everything, read the good as well as the bad. He’s right that you learn more from the bad stuff than the good. And of course, write. Write every day. Don’t worry about whether it’s Proust, just put pen to paper or rather, hands to keyboard, as long as you can, every day. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, but don’t expect writing to be an easy ride to fame and fortune. In the years before I got published, I spent more nights than I want to remember working away until three and four a.m., wrapped in a blanket, bleary-eyed and wrung out, and wondering whether anyone would ever read a single word I’d written. Writing is lonely, hard work. At the time I figured it was probably just me, that the people who made a living at it could bang out books blindfolded, with one hand on the keyboard. I’ve since learned – after reading what those authors said, and I don’t think they’d lie about it – that it’s hard work for everyone. That was comforting. I guess. 

What do you like to do for fun, when you’re not busy?

Mainly read. Though lately I’ve also discovered the joys of Twitter. When marketing director Miriam Parker first signed me up and gave me tweeting tips, I didn’t really get it. I just couldn’t figure out what I’d have to say that would be interesting to anyone else. Eventually, I decided not to worry about that. Laughing. And it’s been great fun meeting people there, hearing what they’re doing, what they’re thinking. In many ways, it’s what we get from reading books: the ability to experience things vicariously and discover new ways of seeing the world from our living room.

What project are you working on these days?

I just turned in my third book, “Killer Ambition.” I’m starting work on a short story, due out next spring, and my fourth book. And TNT has just optioned my books for a one hour drama series – very exciting! I’m attached as an Executive Producer and Dee Johnson, Executive Producer and Showrunner is writing the pilot script even as we speak.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your attention?

I can’t think of any “debut” authors, but one of my recent finds is Sean Chercover. His latest book, “The
Trinity Game,” comes out July 31st, and I got to read an advance copy. It’s sensational! I loved it

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you so much for reading my books, and for your support. And I’d love to hear from you on Twitter (thatmarciaclark) and Facebook (thatmarciaclark), so come on over any time! And Dawn, thank you for this interview!


  1. Dawn, fantastic interview with Marcia Clark! I truly enjoyed reading it. Sounds like she's got a great sense of humor! :)

  2. Yes she does. Her books are also good if you like crime fiction.

  3. Nice interview. Although I only know Marcia from Facebook contact, she is a very nice lady and obviously a very hard worker.

  4. Thanks Mary - I met her through FB as well. She IS a nice woman, and very funny.

  5. I had no idea Marcia Clarke was writing fiction. Great interview.

  6. Hi Peggy - yup, and it's good stuff

  7. This was an awesome interview Dawn! I am going to pick up her book, If I'm Dead on Amazon Kindle.

  8. Hi,
    I enjoyed your interview with Marcy and can only say i agree one hundred percent with reading. For me, being a great writer, means loving to read and that means not only what you write, but what others write. You can learn so much more and more than that, you will discover your own voice.
    Thanks for the interview. It was very interesting.

  9. Thanks for stopping by, Pat :) Always nice to see you. And Jada (Thriller Ink Spot), thank you as well, my friend :)