Interview // Author N. Lombardi Jr.
UPDATE: Justice Gone, winner of the National Indie Excellence® Award for best Legal Thriller!
Our latest author interview is with N. Lombardi Jr. His latest book, Justice Gone, is currently available.
What inspired you, originally a groundwater specialist, to become a fiction writer?
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.
Although fiction, each of your books is written with a central true story at heart. Does this help or hinder how you want to develop a story?
Not really, the actual event, in the case of Journey Towards a Falling Sun, a heartache, in Justice Gone, a fatal beating of a homeless man, merely provided the seed for the story, so I see this as a plus. However, the former book was based on my experiences in Kenya, and I had to discipline myself to avoid the novel from becoming too autobiographical. On the other hand, The Plain of Jars was somewhat of an exception, as it is a historical novel and I had to get my facts straight, i.e. the story had to be accurately woven around true situations. Other than that, there was plenty of room for my imagination.
Justice Gone readers meet heroine Tessa Thorpe. Although Tessa’s written debut was unpublished she shined in your latest release. Will readers have the opportunity to have more adventures with this character?
Tessa Thorpe first appeared briefly as a very minor character in Journey towards a Falling Sun, and at that time I never envisioned her to be a major character in future novels. I don’t know what made me choose her to be the hero for a manuscript I wrote in 2015, as yet unpublished, entitled Woman in the Shadow. In any case, I did not get as enthusiastic a response as I would have liked from my publisher, so I shelved it and wrote Justice Gone, which takes place a few years later in her life. This unpublished story is undergoing a fine tuning as regards editing, and will be my next release. The story concerns her recent past and explains how she became the person she is in Justice Gone. I am also about to embark on a new novel that takes place when she is a young professional, working on a high profile case as a forensic psychologist at the tentative age of 24.
What has been your most satisfying moment while writing?
This is difficult to answer, as there are many satisfying moments. I define these moments when I get an emotional reaction from my own writing, such as laughing or crying. They occur in all the stuff I write.
What is your biggest writing pet peeve?
Obviously, writer’s block, which seriously delays progress on a manuscript. The other is marketing – trying to grab attention for the book while being swamped by thousands of other titles.
If you only had one sentence to capture a new reader for your books, what would it be?
Wow – that’s difficult. Mainly because the first 2 novels were cross-cultural adventure stories, while I’ve now crossed over into mysteries and thrillers, and it’s also hard to avoid hyperbole. I’ll give it a shot: “Love them or hate them, Lombardi’s novels will take you on an emotional ride.”
What author has inspired you the most in your writing?
Quite a few, and a very diverse collection they are: Thomas Hardy, Elmore Leonard, Trevanian, Peter Matthiessen, Shirley Jackson, and Patricia Highsmith, to name a few.
What one book do you recommend that every mystery, thriller and suspense lover read (not including your books)?
It’s always difficult when you have to pick one book for anything. And the choice would change if asked on another occasion. So for now, I’ll say Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg- I remember turning the pages with bated breath.
Of course we have to know, what is in-store next – books, events, etc.?
Justice Gone will be featured in 3 blog tours starting April 2, April 20, and April 29. I’m also waiting for the results of the National Indie Excellence Awards, which come out in June where Justice Gone was entered as a nominee for Best Legal Thriller.