Marcia Clark has a full-throated laugh that comes easily these days. The hard-charging prosecutor, who in 1995 tried and failed to convict O.J. Simpson of murdering his wife and her friend, has changed. After the O.J. case, she left the district attorney's office in search of new challenges. Her fame catapulted Clark into the media as a commentator, TV host and speaker. Her nonfiction book about the O.J. trial, Without a Doubt, became a bestseller. Like any good prosecutor, she's still quick to ask a question, even in an interview, but is less reactive and more reflective.
Now Clark has written her first novel, Guilt by Association. It's a murder mystery, but the story bears no resemblance to the facts in the O.J. case. "Been there, done that," Clark says about the "trial of the century" — while suggesting a view of her own life.
Now 57, Clark is mastering reinvention. In an interview with the AARP Bulletin, she offered reflections on her varied career and advice for others who want to try a new path in life. She also left the clear impression that she is open to new challenges, or as she put it, "never say 'never.' "
Q. When do you first remember thinking of being a writer?
A. I loved writing when I was a kid, and thought about being a writer then. But I didn't have the confidence or belief that I could earn a living that way, so I never took myself seriously. I chose law because writing was involved. I didn't realize how boring legal writing was, but I even learned to love that. Now I'm doing criminal appeals, which is all writing, so it is weirdly full circle for me.
Q. Are you glad you spent so much of your career as a lawyer?
A. I felt very fulfilled in law. I was taking on a mission that was important to me. It made me feel good about my place in the world.
Q. You started as a criminal defense attorney. What made you switch to the prosecution?
A. I found that my sympathies lay with the victim. I wasn't unsympathetic as a defense attorney, but my strong feelings for the victims were getting in my way. I identified too much with the victim. I felt I wasn't being as fair and competent for my criminal clients as the job demanded. You either do the job well or don't do it.