Featured Interview With N. Lombardi Jr
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
For a kid raised on the Lower East side of Manhattan and the northern part of the Bronx, I seemed to have wandered far from my roots – life’s path taking me to 3 continents and over 10 countries as a groundwater specialist. Never thought I’d end up as a writer. Never thought I’d settle in Cambodia, either.
We live in a cozy little house in the countryside and we have a crippled dog we adopted as a pup, and it’s a nice feeling to see her content in knowing she finally found a home.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I must have been about 7 years old when I started reading adult books, mostly biology text books, believe it or not. I twasn’t until I was 13 that I started reading grown-up fiction, and not until 28 when I first attempted to write seriously.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
Patricia Highsmith (pyschological thrillers) Thomas Hardy (historical fiction), Elmore Leonard (quirky crime), John Le Carre (spy drama), and H.P. Lovecraft (realistic horror) are among the ones I can think of at the moment. For literary fiction, Herman Hesse and Hari Murakami. And they all inspire me. Almost all genres interest me, depends on my mood.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Justice Gone, my latest book, was inspired by a true event, the fatal beating of a homeless man in a small Californian town. This was such an extreme case, and one which did not include any racial elements, that it exposed the utter abuse of authority in which an outraged public reaction was inevitable. The town was Fullerton, the man’s name was Kelly Thomas, and the year was 2011. Although the police officers were indicted by a grand jury, they were acquitted in their trial. So I asked myself a question: if someone felt that justice was denied the deceased, would they take it into their own hands? This became the seed for the story.
So, finally, after 2 cross-cultural adventure stories (which by the way did not sell well) I had a chance to write something that had a broader appeal. Justice Gone is embedded with many of the stirring controversies in today’s cultural climate as well as offering a detailed look at the legal system (it’s also a whodunit), a mystery/legal thriller which publishes February 22, 2019, a book that I expect to have strong appeal to commercial fiction readers. The story encapsulates current social issues: police brutality, homelessness, the plight of returning war veterans, the frenzy of the press, and the mechanics of the US judicial system.
Of course, I had to modify the true account to fit the needs of my novel. For one, I moved it to the east coast, i.e. New Jersey. The reason for this, is that’s the place where Tessa Thorpe, our heroine, lives – 2 hours away in New York City. Why did I choose NYC to be her home?
The answer is rather complicated. Before I wrote this, I had written my first Tessa Thorpe novel, named Woman in the Shadow. But because my publisher was not that enthused over it, I shelved it and wrote Justice Gone, namely because it was more topical. The previous story takes place in NYC, where Tessa lives, and I didn’t want her to move to California. Got it?
Because race has been claimed as a factor in many fatal encounters with the police, I had thought to make the victim an African-American. But then I felt I was being too exploitive of the news stories. So I kept the Caucasian identity. But instead of a man suffering from schizophrenia (Kelly Thomas), the man’s mental health issues lay in his bouts with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) originating from his combat experiences in Iraq. Here now, were the conundrums of 2 social problems we have thus far failed to make any meaningful progress – homelessness, and the plight of returning veterans scarred by the atrocities of war.
The idea of a blind lawyer came from John Grisham’s true-crime book, An Innocent Man, so the character of Nathaniel Bodine ultimately came from a real live person (although with a significantly different personality).
Here is the back cover blurb:
When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.
A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.
Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.
Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?
It took me 4 months to write the first draft, and 6 months to edit it.
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