It’s great to have author Maria DiRico (Ellen Byron) here today from Los Angeles, California, to talk about herself and her new release, Here Comes the Body: A Catering Hall Mystery.
How long have you been published, Maria?
My first mystery came out in 2015. Before that I was a playwright and television writer for series like WINGS and JUST SHOOT ME.
What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher?
The Cajun Country Mystery series: Plantation Shudders, Body on the Bayou, A Cajun Christmas Killing, Mardi Gras Murder, and Fatal Cajun Festival. All as Ellen Byron for Crooked Lane Books
The Catering Hall Mystery series: Here Comes the Body, as Maria DiRico, for Kensington.
Great. Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.
Here Comes the Body, the first book in my Catering Hall Mystery series, launched February 25th. Here’s a little bit about the series: After being cleared as a person of interest in her husband’s presumed death, Mia Carina moves back home to Queens, where her father Ravello, a capo with the Boldoni crime family, has been tasked with running a rundown banquet hall that was surrendered to him by a broke gambler. Mia has always wanted her father to go straight and she’s determined to help him run the place, with its view of Flushing Bay and the LaGuardia Airport runway, as a legitimate business. Who knew working for a catering hall could be as dangerous as working for the Mob? The Catering Hall Mysteries offers up a mystery series you can’t refuse.
Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
I hope to continue both series and then launch two more that I’m excited about. I’d also like to get a draft of a stand-alone mystery I wrote in great shape, and then send it out in the world for publication, I hope, I hope. How do I plan on reaching these goals? Work, work, work!
As a fellow author, I know how much work it takes to meet those goals. Good luck!
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
Honestly, I’m happy to attract anyone who enjoys diving into a cozy mystery where anything ugly happens off the page and justice always prevails.
I’m sure that covers a wide range of readers.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Learn how to listen to and distill feedback. Notes and critique are invaluable when they’re good. Keep working on becoming the best writer you can be and keep plugging away at finding an agent and a publisher. Don’t jump into self-publishing too fast. Doing it really well is much, much harder than it looks.
I can relate to that, as I’m still looking for an agent and a larger publisher.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
Even having won a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant, and with my many TV and playwriting credits, it took me nine months to find a literary agent and then my first book never sold. That was a rough year-plus. Not giving up was a struggle. I’d been a professional writer for years and it felt like I was starting from scratch. Luckily, while the first book was out on submission, I wrote a second mystery, Plantation Shudders, and that sold.
You’re an example of how persistance pays off for authors.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
Not a critique group. I’m a member of the WGA West (Writers Guild of America); TAG (The Animation Guild); MWA (Mystery Writers of America), and Sisters in Crime.
We are fellow Sisters in Crime members.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
Reading, of course! I also adore needlepoint. It’s my go-to hobby. I do a couple of other crafts, like decoupage and jewelry making, but those are more sporadic. And I live for our little doggy, a chihuahua mix who’s the light of my life.
Awww. I’m a fellow animal lover. My three cats are my babies, although I also have a teenage daughter.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
I love writing. I can’t not write. I heard an author once say she’d retired. I can’t see me ever doing that. I’m always writing, if not on paper than in my head. The toughest challenge is staying focused when I’m powering through a draft. I set a word count for the week that I force myself to meet. But the internet is dangerous siren, always sending a come-hither wave from my computer. Very distracting!
I can relate to that, too. It’s very hard to find the time to deal with social media, promotion, and writing.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries? I can’t write a sex scene to save my life. And when I’m writing cozies, I don’t have to!
Lol. I’m with you. I feel very uncomfortable writing those type of scenes.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
I adore writing them. I hope you adore reading them! And do sign up for my newsletter at ellenbyron.com. I send it out monthly, and it always includes some fun stuff and a recipe. I also do contests a few times a year.
I’m sure my readers will consider that, as will I.
Thanks so much for the interview. I’m sharing your blog tour and giveaway for Here Comes the Body below:
Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)
by Maria DiRico
About Here Comes the Body
Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery)
1st in Series
Publisher: Kensington (February 25, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 page
Digital ASIN: B07R8WYLSC
After her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her Nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .
Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .
Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .
Italian recipes included!
About Maria DiRico
Maria DiRico was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances. She also writes the award-winning, bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series under the name Ellen Byron.
Website – https://www.ellenbyron.com/catering-hall-mysteries
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ellenbyronla
Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Play – IndieBound
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