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"There was no winning," Clark tells PEOPLE of dealing with the press

By Patrick Gomez
Updated March 02, 2016 11:30 AM
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Credit: Coral Von Zumwalt

Marcia Clark was no stranger to hard work, but being a prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson murder trial proved to be a much harder job than she anticipated – and not for the reasons she expected.

“It was unprecedented,” Clark, 62, says in the current issue of PEOPLE of the media attention she received during the trial. “I’d dealt with press before but they had always approached me in a non-intrusive way.”

As the trial began, Clark was the midst of a divorce from second husband Gordon Clark and a custody battle over their two sons – Kyle, now 26 and an economist, and Travis, now 23 and working at a startup – Clark was viciously mocked in the press for her failed relationships, parenting style and appearance.

Five months into the trial Clark faced a public humiliation when topless photos of her hit tabloids.

“I really didn’t want the spotlight, but there was no way to escape it. And there was real hostility there,” says the best-selling author. “People would try to give me advice like, ‘You shouldn’t come across tough. Wear pastels. Talk softer.’ I thought, ‘So I’m going to present that I’m someone else? Then I’m some cream puff who can’t take the heat?’ There was no winning this.”

For more from Clark – including why she thinks Simpson “got away with murder” – pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Clark – who is currently being portrayed by Sarah Paulson on FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story – says she didn’t mind the press attention as much on a personal level as she did professionally.

“I hated the way it impacted the case – the way it impacted the witnesses,” she says. “Everyone forgot Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, and it became this enormous circus. That was terrible.”

Clark’s new crime thriller Blood Defense is available in bookstores May 1 and her best-selling Simpson trial memoir Without a Doubt (featuring a new forward) is available in e-book form now. The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story airs Tuesdays (10 p.m. ET) on FX.