Interview with Marcella Nardi, Author
by Maria Teresa De Donato
Today, it’s with great pleasure that I am going to introduce to you my friend and fellow writer, Marcella Nardi, who like myself has been living in the USA for many years. Marcella also has numerous publications to her credit, all linked, in one way or another, to the world of mystery, investigations, detective stories, and the like.
Today we shall be focusing on one of the genres she is most fond of: the Legal Thriller.
MTDD: Hi Marcella and welcome to my Blog and Virtual Cultural Salon. It is a pleasure having you as my guest.
MN: Thank you Maria Teresa, I am happy to be "virtually" with you right now.
MTDD: Marcella, why don't you start by introducing yourself? Tell us a little about yourself, who you are, your studies, career, hobbies, and anything else you wish to share with our reading audience.
MN: I was born in Veneto in a pretty medieval town: Castelfranco Veneto. I lived in many Italian cities, first because of my father's job, and then because of mine. Dad was from Vicenza and mom is from Puglia. I think I got the best of both, or at least that's what I like to believe. In 1986 I graduated in Computer Science, working in this field for 22 years, before moving here to the USA. I have many passions and hobbies. I love ancient and medieval history, photography, travel, gardening, DIY (=Do It Yourself), as well as reading and writing. I have also other interests. But those I mentioned are already enough.
MTDD: Where and when did your love for writing originate from and how did you end up publishing your books?
MN: I have always loved reading and writing. In those days, children used to read and watch almost the same things on TV as their parents. My mother was a crime fan and she used to write poetry, as she still does. I learned to read and write before starting school. I immediately abandoned the fairy tales to read detective stories. I believe that the love for thrillers comes from the fact that they stimulate our minds to discover pitfalls and intrigues.
MTDD: Since you started your writing career, you won several awards. Why don’t you tell us about them and explain with what criteria you chose which literary competitions to participate in?
MN: I am not very inclined to participate in literary awards. There are very few of them that are truly serious, while many, unfortunately, just ask for money and that's it. The two main ones, which I trusted, were competitions held, as every year, by two high-end organizations. One is the medieval culture association "Medieval Italy", which each year receives awards from the Presidency of the Italian Republic, and the other is the Italian Association of Book, Science, and Research" (Italia mia: a young award among the young people (Associazioneitalianadellibro.it)). The criteria was based on the topic and the seriousness of the two groups. I happened to participate in other competitions, but often it was just a waste of time. In the first of these two important competitions, the theme was a short novel set in the fascinating setting of the Italian Middle Ages. I came in third place. It was 2011. On the other hand, it was 2014 when I won the only and first Italian prize with the theme "My Italy". A short novel was required in which a beautiful and historic Italian city would be highlighted. I turned Dante's story of Paolo and Francesca into a mystery novel set in Gradara. The three juries (80 Italian libraries, about forty jurors around Italy, and the committee of the Italian Book Association), voted for my story with about 87% of the votes. Over time I won other awards here and there, but they were not as prestigious as those ones.
MTDD: Let's mention for a moment the genres you got involved in and then let's focus on the Legal Thriller explaining what exactly it is and how it differs from other genres.
MN: I have ventured into the following genres: Historical Mystery; Romance; Paranormal; Police and Legal Thriller.
The Legal thriller fascinates me a little more than the detective novel because the main character in the latter, usually a criminal lawyer, has much more freedom in the investigation since he is not required to follow a particular protocol but only his instinct, while still being careful not to go against the law. We remember, for instance, the great Perry Mason. In my case, I created a Seattle attorney, Joe Spark, who is a character with a great love for the triumph of Justice, the real one. He is quite particular a lawyer, one of those who in order to make sure that the truth always triumphs ends up earning less money .
To better clarify to our readers, here is the difference between a detective novel and a legal thriller:
• In the detective novel, the investigator is always a representative of the authority. In Italy, it could be the Police or the Carabinieri. The detective must respect a certain procedure during the investigation and must, or should, always move in full compliance with the law/inquisitorial rules.
• In the legal thriller, the investigator is a lawyer with a passion for investigations and for the triumph of "true justice", not just that of the lawyer with the best public speaking abilities, as the great Cicero said. So in a novel of this kind, the protagonist has more "freedom of action” when it comes to his investigations.
MTDD: I know that you are also very fond of history, especially the medieval one. How do you use and include this passion of yours in your books in general and specifically in the Legal Thrillers we will be talking about today?
MN: I only use my passion for the Middle Ages for historical novels. I wrote one and an anthology of medieval tales.
MTDD: Speaking of which ... and before getting to the heart of your publications: What justice truly means to Marcella Nardi?
MN: To me, "justice" is something that goes beyond the laws that can vary from state to state. Justice should always be the triumph of law and ethical aspects. We are all the same, regardless of gender, skin color, and socio-economic background. I realize that the answer, however, is very difficult and complex, because we do not all have the same mentality.
MTDD: In 2019 you released your first Legal Thriller Morte all’Ombra dello Space Needle (Death in the Shadow of the Space Needle) in the breathtaking series "The Investigations of Attorney Joe Spark".
How did the idea for this book come about? Who is Joe Spark? and What should/could the public expect from reading this book of yours?
MN: Joe Spark is an attractive Seattle attorney in his early fifties. For me, it was a challenge: creating a male protagonist was not easy. I also wondered: "Marcella, if you were just a reader, what kind of man would you like to see in action as a detective?". It was not, however, just a challenge in these terms; it was, above all, the desire to experiment with the construction of a new character, a new personality, and a new approach to investigations. Joe Spark is a hypochondriac, he doesn't like technology, he loves good food and beautiful women, but he has a difficult relationship with them. However, he is a man with a sharp mind, endowed with great deductive and observation skills. He loves justice, the true one. In the name of true justice, Joe Spark will never be a wealthy lawyer, but he will always be drawn to discovering what lies behind a crime.
In "Death in the Shadow of the Space Needle", the reader will participate in the search for the killer, but as soon as he believes he has figured out who he is ... that’s when he will have to start from scratch. I like, when I write, to give credible yet false leads and then have more than one twist in the end. This novel is a real "cold case" in which Joe Spark will open a real Pandora's box.
MTDD: In 2020 Joe Spark gets back in the game in L’architetto dei labirinti (The Architect of the Labyrinths), your second Legal Thriller. Tell us about this book and explain if and how in the meantime there has been an evolution of the character 'Joe Spark' compared to how he was and how he operated in Morte all’Ombra dello Space Needle (Death in the Shadow of the Space Needle).
MN: In this novel, I present a Joe Spark who "dares" to declare his love to a woman he has fallen in love with. We see him safer, while his acumen in solving a strange case that opens with the discovery of a triple murder in a deconsecrated church remains unaltered. His "modus operandi" does not change, while the type of plot does. We see a Joe Spark who is more confident in making certain decisions that are not easy. Unfortunately, I can't spoil so I can't reveal some important aspects, but I also believe that, after six detective novels, as a writer I have evolved into the Legal thriller genre.
MTDD: In your search for plots, characters, and historical contexts, in your opinion, does your Italianness emerge more or rather your immersion in the American culture? and With what criteria do you adapt the setting in one country rather than in the other?
MN: I think my being “Italian” emerges a lot. What is certain is that having traveled a lot since I was a child and after living in the USA for 13 years, some of my points of view are affected by different cultures. I lived the first 13 years of my life in Northern Italy, then until the age of 24, I lived in Taranto (Puglia, Southern Italy) and, finally, the last 22 years of my life in Italy I spent in Milan.
The different settings are affected only by my knowledge of the various cities. I preferred to set the Legal Thriller series in Seattle, as I know the city and its surroundings quite well.
MTDD: Marcella, it was a great pleasure to have you as my guest today and I am sure we will meet again on other occasions to continue talking about your other publications.
Should some readers be wanting to buy your books or just to contact you, how will they be able to do so?
MN: Thank you to you for the pleasant "chat". Here are some of my references online.
My official website: www.marcellanardi.com
My Author Page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.it/Marcella-Nardi/e/B01AOABPVS
My Facebook group of Books, Culture and Curiosities: (1) Il salotto di Marcella Nardi: Cultura, Libri & Curiosita' | Facebook