Sunday, March 3, 2019

Interview with Nicholas Lombardi Jr.

Today we have Nicholas Lombardi Jr. to discuss his book "Justice Gone" with us. Those who have missed our review of the book can check here.

Can you tell us about your educational background and your reading tastes?
After 8 years in the rough educational system of New York City, I underwent a profound change during my high school years attending a private Jesuit school that had only 700 or so students. Practically everyone knew each other and I have to say that they were happy years. During this time, I read the classics, coming of age stories such as Catcher in the Rye, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the Lord of the Flies, and a whole host of vintage science fiction (Isaac Asmov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clark, and H.G. Wells)

Upon graduating high school, I entered the New York State university system at Stony Brook, once again a public institution which was also a very depersonalized environment. I was a science major, and my fiction reading decreased, except for some literary works, such as Herman Hesse and Norman Mailer. But I also read books to expand my mind and began to study Buddhism.
When I finally embarked on my career as an engineering geologist, I had limited time for recreational reading, but my experiences in foreign countries provided ample learning experience and led directly to my first 2 novels, The Plain of Jars, a cross-cultural adventure story set in Laos, and Journey Towards a Falling Sun, another cross-cultural adventure that takes place in Kenya.
When did you decide to become a writer and when did you start writing?
My career as a groundwater specialist kept me busy, and I never gave a thought about becoming an author. However, while in Kenya I fell in love with a woman, and this relationship was doomed from the start. As a kind of catharsis, I began to write a semi-autobiographical story which became Journey Towards a Falling Sun. As I said, it was the need to purge my emotions that drove me, without immediate plans for publishing, as I was in the prime of life as regards to my vocation. But in 1985, I did manage to get an agent who was very enthusiastic over the manuscript. After fifteen rejections by big publishing houses, however, I gave up and shelved it, abandoning any thoughts about being a writer. It wasn't published until 30 years later.

In 1996, while working in Laos, I learned of the secret war that the US conducted for 9 years, and resulted in the aerial bombardment that has given that country the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country of all time. As an American, I was ashamed of my ignorance of this matter, for I had never known of this secret war. I was so moved, I decided I would write an epic novel that would illustrate the consequences of that war which became The Plain of Jars, released in 2013.

Can you describe your current book in few lines? What’s it about?Where did you get idea for this it?
Justice Goneis a tale of what happens in a small town following the fatal beating of a homeless Iraqi war vet at the hands of police. A cascading series of events, from street protests to a vigilante shooting of three police officers leads to a multi-state manhunt for the vet's war time buddy. A controversial trial attracting nationwide attention dominates the second half of the novel. The story ends with a twist revealing the identity of the cop-killer. The idea came from a true incident - the fatal beating of a homeless man in California. It was such an outrageous act, recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube, that I wondered what would happen if someone who saw the gruesome video would mete out their own version of justice to the police officers involved.
Give us an insight into your main character(s)
While Justice Gone is populated with many interesting characters, two of them clearly stand out. One is Tessa Thorpe, who had been the psychotherapist/counselor to both the beaten man and the man accused of murdering the police officers. Her sense of justice, her commitment to her job, combined with a righteous willfulness make her an ideal heroine. The other is the lawyer for the defense, Nathaniel Bodine, who despite being blind, is a flamboyant and brilliant attorney who is sure to captivate the reader. Because of his elderly age, the confidence he possesses in his abilities, andthe fact that he has overcome many obstacles, he maintains a formidable, and uncompromising personality.
How much research did you do for this book?
I had to spend quite some time in researching the issues presented in the novel. Homelessness in America was one, as well as the sufferings of those afflicted with combat-related post-traumatic stress syndrome. But by far, the greatest effort was studying the mechanics of the US justice system, specifically legal procedures in the state of New Jersey.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
Yes, there is a trailer for Justice Gone that the publisher just made recently. The best way at this time to see it is on YouTube: 

What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I am fine tuning a manuscript that also features Tessa Thorp, although novel will be quite different from Justice Gone. the title is Woman in the Shadow, and it is much more of a dark psychological suspense thriller written in the first person from Tessa's point of view. 
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
With my current novel, and the work in progress mentioned above, there will be 2 books featuring Dr. Tessa Thorpe (Actually Tessa Thorpe first appeared briefly in Journey towards a Falling Sun). I plan to write one or two more with Tessa, and then I would like to be without the constraints that a series presents in terms of plot and theme. In fact, I am only doing this to satisfy any public demand to see her character come back, and may also bring back the blind lawyer Nat Bodine for one more appearance. Then I be free will explore other storylines.
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