By Stacey Longo
Former L.A. District Attorney Marcia Clark made an appearance via Skype at the Bentley Memorial Library in Bolton on January 8 to discuss The Competition, the fourth book in Clark’s Rachel Knight crime fiction series.
The event was moderated by John Valeri, who pens the Hartford Books Examiner column. Valeri kept the mood light as technical and other difficulties kicked off the event—first, Clark was caught in L.A. traffic, and then the Skype connection wasn’t working. Clark and Valeri started the discussion on speakerphone until the Skype issue was resolved.
Sixteen enthusiastic readers braved the cold weather to ask Clark about her book. The Competition revolves around Rachel Knight investigating a school shooting reminiscent of Columbine. Clark explained how she researched Columbine prior to starting to write the novel, learning more about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s psyches and situations. The Newtown school shootings in Connecticut happened right as Clark turned in her draft of The Competition to her publisher. She and her publisher decided to move ahead with the book’s publishing schedule, as the theme seemed even more relevant and important after the events in Newtown.
The audience agreed that The Competition was at times difficult to read due to the subject matter, but well written and suspenseful. Clark shared some insight into her life these days—besides maintaining a hectic publishing schedule, she also writes appeals briefs and occasionally appears on television. While the audience was respectful of Clark’s request that her most famous trial not be brought up, Clark herself did refer to it when asked why she worked as a prosecutor and not a defense lawyer for much of her career.
“Keep in mind that what you saw in the Simpson trial was not the norm,” Clark said, though she did admit that there is a lot more freedom when working as a defense lawyer. “You only have to convince one person [of reasonable doubt], not twelve [of guilt].” Clark started her career as a defense attorney, but “I wanted to represent the victims,” she explained regarding her move to the prosecutor’s table.
Clark was articulate and endearing as she answered questions. She and Valeri played off of each other well, and attendees praised the event. As one person in the audience posted on Facebook later in the evening: “Great time tonight listening to John Valeri interview the brilliant Ms. Marcia Clark!”