Interview with Marcella Nardi
by Maria Teresa De Donato
Some time ago Marcella and I talked about one of the literary genres in which she ventured, namely the Legal Thriller.
In this interview, on the contrary, we will be focusing on her Crime Series.
MTDD: Hi Marcella, and welcome again to my Blog and Virtual Cultural Salon.
MN: Hi Maria Teresa, and thank you for inviting me again.
MTDD: Let's dive right into your publications, starting with the protagonists Marcella Randi and Lynda Brown, "two female detectives, one password: Justice".
Introduce us, please, to these two characters, their concept of Justice, and their consequent relationship with it.
MN: Marcella Randi and Lynda Brown have a lot in common, but also many differences. I am not referring only to the fact that one is Italian and the other is an American from Seattle, who later moved to Rome. I am referring to their life background and character. Marcella Randi has the same physical features that I have, and, in some respects, she also resembles me temperamentally. She is a lively, passionate, and sharp woman. She has never disdained romantic relationships, despite having suffered a lot in her life. Although nearly sixty, sentimentally speaking Commissioner Randi loves to be transgressive, holidays, and social life. Lynda Brown, on the other hand, after a toxic relationship, while still living in Seattle, closed herself up in a hedgehog, with regards to romantic relationships, always putting work at the top of her priorities. Once arrived in Italy, Lynda gets married, but she is not lucky. After a few years of happiness, she becomes a widow. Her work overwhelms her more and more, letting her to neglect the daughter her late husband adopted years before they met. What unites them (Marcella Randy and Lynda Brown) is their desire for justice, even if, sometimes, this means circumventing the rules of the investigation.
MTDD: Marcella Randi is the protagonist of one of the series you wrote and to which Via San Vitale 1, Appearance Deceives, and Vendetta belong.
How are these three novels similar and how do they differ?
MN: Actually, two short novels also belong to the series: A prova di Serial Killer (To Serial Killer Proof) and Amori & Vecchi Rancori (Loves and Old Grudges). The three novels you mentioned are different from one another. The only common thread is Marcella Randi with her desire to reveal the crime, her stubbornness, her smile, and jokes. In Via San Vitale, 1 (St. Vitale Street, 1), our detective is still a university student who sees intrigues everywhere and who often helps her father, Commissioner of the Homicide Squad in Bologna. Thanks to her curiosity and insight, the young Randi uncovers an international espionage crime, whose actors are in her building and the one across the street. In "Appearance deceives", we find an adult Marcella Randi, on the threshold of fifty years and who is a commissioner at the homicide squad of San Fedele in Milan. It is a novel with strong tones in which her passionate side also emerges. One of the two dead, brutally murdered, was an old flame of her. This novel gave birth to a Spin-Off Oltre i Limiti della Passione (Beyond the Limits of Passion), which is an erotic novel in which she recalls one sad and passionate love story of twenty years before. As for the third, Vendetta, I am going to reply to your question through my next answer.
MTDD: Vendetta is a detective story with a historical background.
Why did you make this choice?
MN: For two reasons: I love medieval history and I love thrillers. It has often happened to me, in my career as a reader, to come across novels whose events have their roots in ancient times. An American friend of mine, who lives close to where I live, still keeps the boarding pass of her ancestors who arrived in the USA with the Mayflower (four hundred years ago). This gave me the cue to invent a plot for a thriller that had ties to a family that lived seven hundred years earlier in Cagli, under the then Montefeltro dukedom.
MTDD: For Vendetta you will have had to do some specific historical research.
What arrangements did you make?
MN: The same I make for all my novels, even the modern ones. Since due to my education I am neither a policeman nor a biologist nor a historian, every time I write about something I am not familiar with, I do some research. For historians, I generally create a sort of ‘chronological and geographical map’ of past places and events that I want to write about. For this novel, to create a link with the present, I searched the ‘meanders of the Internet’ to find an ancient monastery that had ‘modern and very sharp’ abbesses. I found that of Cagli, no longer active, which 700 years ago was under the Dukes of Montefeltro. In those years three abbesses of noble origin and very modern for those times stood out. This helped me to create a link with the events of the present, which take place in an existing monastery and under the current jurisdiction of the Milanese Flying Squad: the Viboldone monastery.
MTDD: What particularly fascinated you about this detective story and especially about its preparation?
MN: The historical aspect, as well as the fact that three abbesses, at the time, gave the dukes and the bishop a lot of trouble. While changing the name, I have studied what is known about their life. I chose the one that intrigued me the most.
MTDD: You describe Lynda Brown, the character of your second series, as a detective who "feels a strong need to investigate what happened, in an attempt to make sense of the darker mysteries of her life."
How much of fiction is there and how much of reality belongs to you in this character of yours?
MN: Marcella Randi looks a lot like me, Lynda Brown is very different. I wanted to create a character different from me, albeit with interesting characteristics. There are only a few aspects that unite us. Meanwhile, I would say that I tried to make it as less ‘fictional’ as possible, giving it a character typical of many detectives. Similarly, we have Rome and Seattle. Contrary to what she does, I live in Seattle and lived in Rome in the past. We both dislike contradictory reasoning. For this reason, some of my friends, over time, have detested the fact that I quickly discover lies. I immediately notice the contradictions. It may be because of this that I love reading and writing detective stories. We both have no children and are almost the same age. We have nothing else in common.
MTDD: Lynda Brown is the protagonist of Sarai solo mia (You Will Be Mine Alone) and Io non dimentico (I Do Not Forget).
Tell us about these two cops and their possible commonalities or differences.
MN: The two novels have very little in common, other than Detective Lynda and her assistant, Isabella. It is certain that in both novels we notice the same investigative approach, but the locations of the crimes are different: the first takes place in Rome in a luxurious residential area; the second in the province between Rome and Viterbo. What inspired me? I would say that reading the crime story, the two stories told in the two novels are part of the sad reality that you read in the newspapers. The second novel was inspired by some facts related by a friend of mine who works for the juvenile court department in Seattle. She told me sad stories that over the years have resulted in terrible violence. For the first novel, however, I read a short article about some murders that took place in a luxury neighborhood on the outskirts of Genoa. But I wanted to place my character in Rome.
MTDD: Is Marcella Nardi more Marcella Randi or more Lynda Brown?
MN: As I have already mentioned, both in terms of physical appearance and many aspects of character, I certainly look more like Marcella Randi. It is no coincidence that I gave her a surname that is an anagram of mine.
MTDD: Would you like to mention some particularities of the other novels of both of these two detective series?
MN: First of all the names of the characters. I amuse myself by choosing names that belong, in full or as an anagram, to people I know. Another singular fact concerns Vendetta. I was stunned when, wanting to also have a beta reader (before I only had one editor who would control everything once I had finished my writing), the person who came forward, whom I didn't know at all and who over the years has become one of my closest friends, is called just like the abbess of the monastery of Viboldone. I refer, of course, to the name I invented in the novel. It was a truly extraordinary coincidence. Maybe it was written in the stars.
MTDD: A question that many ask themselves is: Does the 'perfect crime' really exist?
How would you reply, but above all how would Marcella Randi and Lynda Brown answer this question?
MN: In certain situations, I would say that all three, Marcella Randi, Lynda Brown, and myself would reply that the perfect crime does exist, but…only in very rare cases. I explain it on behalf of all three. By perfect crime, we mean a crime, typically a murder, for which no traces and evidence could lead the investigators to find the culprit. Such a crime has some specific aspects: the killer must be a perfect stranger to the victim; he/she doesn't have to live near (his/her victim); he/she must not have any connection points, for example, he/she must never have frequented the same place; and, dulcis in fundo (last but not least), he/she must not commit any serial killings. This explains why some serial killers are often eventually identified, but only after many years. A serial killer rarely has any connection with the victims. When they are arrested, often after many years, it is because they make mistakes or similar actions that allow detectives to find connections and then arrest them. But… a serial killer is a criminal psychopath who, therefore, acts for no real reason, other than to enjoy seeing the fear in the victim’s eyes. For the rest of the crimes, as my distinguished detectives would tell you, the perfect crime does not exist. The bulk of the crimes, however, have a motivation connected with the victim.
MTTD: Thanks Marcella for having been my guest again.
How about reminding our readers how they can get in touch with you and/or buy your publications?
MN: Thanks to you, Maria Teresa, for having invited me again. Talking about my novels is always a pleasure. People can contact me through my website: www.marcellanardi.com, or through LINKTREE they will have all my Internet contacts (Facebook, YouTube, etc.): https://linktr.ee/Marcellanardi