The Truth About Thea: A Q & A with Amy Impellizzeri

10/22/2017 10:49 am ET

Booklist writes that THE TRUTH ABOUT THEA “will keep readers guessing until the end,” and they are not wrong! Calling on her years in the legal system, Amy Impellizzeri takes readers on a wild ride through the Philadelphia justice system.

After listening to a lot of podcasts about the justice system recently, I wanted to start with this; can the court ever establish truth? Is it possible?

Well, the lawyer in me has a pretty lawyer-like response to this question. “Is it really the American court system’s responsibility to establish truth?” Is it even possible to establish the truth? After all, as one of the main characters of THE TRUTH ABOUT THEA says: “It’s laughable when you think about it – how many truths there really are – no?”

In my experience, the judicial system is less interested in the truth than it is in fairness. And while these two might seem synonymous at first glance, they are not. Even when a criminal defendant has unequivocally committed the act she is accused of, the judicial system insists upon a trial of her peers to consider all available circumstances, including how the crime was discovered and possible defenses to her crime. This is why the Constitution prohibits any defendant from being forced to confess her actions. Miranda rules and evidentiary limitations exist in criminal cases not to help establish the truth, but rather to keep police and other authoritarian power in check for all of our citizens. Statutes of limitations exist to encourage timely reporting of crimes and preservation of evidence. In civil cases, the courts are constantly evaluating not just the facts of the case, but how society would prefer to allocate the division of resources and financial responsibility for risks taken by parties in business with one another.

So can the courts establish truth? Maybe. If that’s what they were designed to do. Which they probably are not.

On the flip side, what does it take to be a good liar?

Oh, but aren’t we all good liars?

Have you ever said, “No, it’s fine, really” - when it’s not?

Ever complimented your boss’s outfit when you just really wanted bonus points?

Ever posted a picture of a sunrise on your facebook profile with tears streaming down your face over a heartbreak, or an argument, or a trauma, or some other sadness?

I think we all tell small untruths constantly. And the question is, at what point do we forget what our own truth is? At what point do those lies become our personal truth? That’s what THE TRUTH ABOUT THEA sets out to explore.

What do you miss about being involved in the legal system? When you are watching the news or reading online, what raises your sense of justice and makes you want to jump back in? Or does it just make you want to write more?

I had an incredibly diverse legal practice. I spent over thirteen years as a corporate litigator working on complex legal cases which were incredibly challenging and interesting. I argued before judges all over the country for high profile clients. But I have to say the days I miss the most were the ones sprinkled throughout that time that were spent working for lesser known clients: namely, pro bono work that I did in the early 2000’s for parents and children navigating the special education laws in New York City. That was incredibly rewarding. I wish I had done more of it, frankly.

And yes, these days, my tools of justice are my pen and my platform. My years as a lawyer taught me that words are indeed powerful. I find power in putting my words out into the world. And I don’t even have to abide by the evidentiary rules to do so!

What’s next for you as a writer?

THE TRUTH ABOUT THEA marks an interesting point in my career. Some have asked if I’m switching “genres” by releasing a book that is being marketed as a psychological thriller after two categorized “women’s fiction” novels. I have been incredibly lucky up until this point to simply write the stories I want to write without regard to labels. I credit the creativity and forward thinking of my publisher, Nancy Cleary, of Wyatt-MacKenzie in this regard.

I’m currently working on a novel entitled “Why We Lie.” It’s about a young married couple who are rising stars in one of my favorite places, Washington DC, whose lives are turned upside down by a tragedy. My hope is that I can keep writing the stories I want to write. And that book clubs and readers will continue to find them.

And that I never. Ever. Have to go back to practicing law for a living. 😊

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