22 February, 2019

#Interview with N. Lombardi Jr., #Author of Justice Gone

About the Book:

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? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

An Interview with the Author

This week it is my pleasure to interview N. Lombardi Jr. Would you please introduce yourself to my readers and share something about your life.
I was born in a working class family in New York City, and my life's path has gone in an unlikely direction. I've been a groundwater geologist for many years, enabling me to work on three continents and in over ten countries, and this offered me the opportunities to experience firsthand a diverse collection of cultures. Eventually the course of my work took me to Cambodia. I fell in love with the place and kept it as my home base. After 7 years, I married a Cambodian woman, and we built a house in the countryside in the southern part of the country. Where we live, there is everything: mountains, sea, rivers and estuaries, and a nice quaint town 10 minutes' drive away. I am truly lucky. 

When did you write your first book and how did it come about?
I never intended to be an author, but intermittent events in my life spurred me to write and now I've reached the point of no return. The first time was 30 years ago, and it was a catharsis for a broken heart, a romance adventure set in Kenya, and it was therapy for getting over what I considered, at the time, the loss of the love of my life. It's also a story about cultural confusion in East Africa. 

In the 1980's it was much easier to get an agent, which I did, but after she submitted the manuscript 15 times, with rejection after rejection, I put it on the shelf for 30 years. It was finally published in 2014 as Journey Towards a Falling Sun, a romance adventure set in Kenya. 

My second novel was actually the first one published, The Plain of Jars, started in 1998, and I laboured over it for 15 years while working as a groundwater geologist in various countries. I had no intention of writing again, but when I visited Laos and learned about the secret war the US waged against that small nation (without an official declaration of war) and discovered that more bombs were dumped on that country than all the munitions dropped in World War II, I felt I just had to write about it. The novel was published as my first, in 2013.

Do you always write in the same genre or do you mix it up?
My first two novels were what I call cross-cultural adventure novels, but I found to my dismay that these were difficult to market, and consequently did not sell well. I like to read mysteries and thrillers, and I found I could write about current events in such a genre. So these are the types of books that I'll write from now on.

When you write, do you start with an idea and sit down and let it evolve, or do you make notes and collect ideas on paper beforehand?
I usually get ideas way in advance of actually writing the story, but they do evolve during the writing process, usually ending up significantly different than my original conception. I don't make notes, or put my thoughts on paper, they're all in my head.

Would you like to give us a short excerpt from one of your books?
Okay, a very short one, from the latest book, Justice Gone. It's the start of the trial, when the prosecutor greets the blind lawyer, Nat Bodine:

“Didn’t we meet last year at the meeting of the New Jersey Bar Association?” Bodine asked, as his daughter collected their papers and put them in their briefcase.
“Yes, I believe we did.”
“Thought so. I never forget a voice.”
That comment threw Fiske off-center for a moment. “I just wanted to, well, shake hands so to speak, before we come out fighting.”
“Is your hand out there in the air, waiting for mine? Cause if it is, you can put it back wherever you had it. I don’t shake hands these days. And while you’re at it, you can remove that smug smile off your face. I don’t have to see it, I can tell by your tone. You’ve already pissed me off, and this is just the arraignment. So I’m not exactly in a gentlemanly mood. And if you try to set up my client by having him mingle with the others, there’ll be hell to pay. Getting my drift, son?”
Fighting words for sure, but the word that provoked Fiske the most was the condescending “son,” just as Bodine had figured it would. “Is that a threat, Mr. Bodine?”
Emily tugged at her father’s arm with the covert message that he quit this repartee. He turned to leave, but not before saying, “No, Mr. Fiske, just a consequence.”

Who is your favourite character and why?
I really don't want to be biased towards my main characters, so I have to choose three characters, one from each novel, that are close to my heart, and for some reason they are all women.

In my first book, The Plain of Jars, we have Dorothy, a 64-year-old widow, a rather insular individual, who, with great courage, makes the decision to travel to the other side of the world, and is transformed into an intrepid truth seeker.

Then I must give honourable mention to Kampeng, the loyal and devoted Laotian guide, and the Venerable Kru Jarun, the wise yet feisty Buddhist spiritual master.

Similarly, we have another character transformation seen in Journey Towards a Falling Sun. Pamela Emuria, an innocent and virtuous idealist, is tragically exposed to the realities of life after reluctantly entering into a taboo love affair. The resilience and integrity that she shows thereafter makes her an Anna Karenina style of heroine.

And finally we have Dr Tessa Thorpe in Justice Gone. Strong willed and committed, she confronts adversity head on with a warrior-like attitude fighting for what she believes is right. 

Once again I have a runner-up from that novel, the testy, incorrigible blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine.

Actually, I love all my characters, which makes your question particularly difficult.

Which of your books gave you the most pleasure to write?
Oh wow, another tough one. You should include "pain" in that question, because there are times when writing any of my novels that, I must admit rather awkwardly, I cry. So again, I cannot choose.

If you could pick any famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
For this particular book, I would have to say John Grisham. In fact, I sent him a copy through the publicity department at Doubleday, though I doubt I'll get a response. I figure, "What the hell…". The reason I chose him is that Mr. Grisham has written many legal thrillers with social issues embedded in it: homelessness, corruption, unscrupulous behaviour of insurance companies, etc. I think he would like my book because of the topics that surround the plot.

Name three things that you believe are important to character development
One thing that annoys me as a reader is when I get three pages of biodata and emotional baggage about a character, which breaks the flow and pace of the narrative. I really don't care about what school the person graduated from or the broken love affairs of the past. I believe in showing, not telling. With a succinct physical description, crisp and distinctive dialogue along with actions, the reader can get a pretty good picture of the character. Interesting things about the person's past can be brought in with well-timed snippets, but it's mainly how they express themselves verbally and their behaviour, including how they react to the various situations they are confronted with.

What is the best marketing tip you have received?
Now, we are surely embarking upon a different tack.
Because I'm an Indie author with a small press, I have to stop my writing to engage in marketing full-time. I'm not very good at it, and I still don't know which tactic has the most impact. Even experts cannot say with any certainty, because in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - there's an undefinable interaction. I have used blog tours, Goodreads ads, and giveaways. Some authors heavily depend on discount promotions, but unless your self-published, you lose money on these campaigns, as the fees for the newsletters are greater than the royalties you earn.

What is the biggest factor for you when selecting a book to read?
I read the editorial reviews first, only as an initial screening to determine Indy authors from the big publishers, and then go on to the readers' reviews. I do this because I have a different attitude for these two classes of books. While editorial reviews lend some credibility to the title, I am suspicious of heavily touted trendy bestsellers. For the readers' reviews, I look at all the five star, three star, and one star reviews to see why people like or dislike the book. Then I make my decision.

Do you have your own website? 
Yes, I do, http://author-n-lombardi-jr.com, but I don't recommend any one visiting it, since all the content is also conveniently available on my Goodreads profile. I only created a website because people tell me an author must have his own website, and everyone keeps asking me for the URL. To make a good site, you need time, and I'd rather spend time writing. It's bad enough that I have marketing as a diversion. 

Are you working on a new book at the moment?
I've finished a manuscript, tentatively titled Woman in the Shadow, again with Tessa Thorpe as the main character. This novel is written in the first person, and gives insight into who she really was and how she metamorphosed into the person we see in Justice Gone. To speak the truth, I wrote this before Justice Gone, but because my publisher was not as enthused about it as I was, I shelved it.

Do you have any events or book promotions coming up that you would like to tell us about?
First, let me introduce my latest novel, Justice Gone, and explain that its creation 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.

As for promotions, the book will be publicized through virtual book tours: Rachel's Random Resources, Goddess Fish, Sage, b00k r3vi3w Tours, and Enchanted Book Promotions book tours, as well as a few Twitter campaigns.

About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People's Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:
Website * Goodreads * Amazon

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