Rosie Genova is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Minestrone Mischief, her latest novel in the Italian Kitchen Mystery series.
Welcome, Rosie. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
First, these are such great questions! Minestrone Mischief is Book 4 of the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, a cozy series set in an Italian restaurant at the New Jersey seaside. The main character, Victoria Rienzi, is a mystery author and an amateur sleuth. Minestrone Mischief takes place after the summer season in the fictional shore town of Oceanside Park. The major events occur between Halloween and Thanksgiving, after a body is found on the boardwalk dressed as the detective who features in Victoria’s mysteries.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from? I’ve wanted to do a Halloween story for some time. It actually began as a novella, and I got so into the idea of Mischief Night and a costume parade, that I developed a full-length novel around it. I knew I wanted to include costumes and disguises, Mischief Night pranks, and the generally spooky atmosphere of October.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
Okay, let me start by saying that I have never had a fan who turned into a stalker! (My fans are the best, and they know it!) In this book, Victoria is harassed by an obsessive fan who ends up dead. In many ways, the story is about the relationship between writers and readers, especially in the age of social media. I always start my mysteries with What If? questions: What if the love of an author’s work crossed into obsession? What if a fan started harassing Victoria? What if he then ended up dead? And it took off from there.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them? Yikes, where to begin on this one? I love the whole Rienzi family, a tight-knit Italian clan who love each other to the point of annoyance. (I may have had some experience in this area.) So yes, while my own family has inspired the Rienzi gang, that’s as far as it goes. I will say that the formidable Nonna was absolutely based on my own grandmothers, bless ‘em. What I had great fun with in this book was giving little glimpses into Bernardo Vitali, the hero sleuth of Victoria’s mystery series. There are “excerpts” from Victoria’s book, which of course only exists in my imagination. Bernardo is sort of an Italian Poirot, and I delight in him. I’m thinking I should give him a novella of his own. . .
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about? I grew up going to the Jersey shore every summer of my childhood, and I have such great affection for the seaside towns that inspire Oceanside Park. I mostly rely on nostalgia and wonderful memories!
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel? Another great question. I worked in Italian restaurants as a college student, so I have some sense of how they operate. I’ve interviewed friends and colleagues on everything from karate moves to the use of asbestos in construction. And for every book in the series, I have done lots of research regarding manner of death, effects of substances on bodies, health conditions, how long a corpse takes to cool, and other details which make my search history a grim place indeed. (The cause of the character’s death in Minestrone Mischief also required research, which I can’t share because, spoiler.)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Thanks for answering my questions, Rosie, and good luck with Minestrone Mischief, the latest book in Italian Kitchen Mystery series.
The novel is available online at Amazon
About Rosie Genova: Bestselling and award-winning author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. The inspiration for her cozy series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, comes from her deep appreciation for Italian food, her affinity for the New Jersey seaside, and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. A former journalist and teacher, Rosie also writes women’s fiction and suspense. The proud mama of three grown sons, she still lives in her favorite state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy.