I’m pleased to have author Connie di Marco from Los Angeles here to speak about her writing and new release, Tail of the Dragon, that is on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas Into a Good Book.
Hi, Connie. Please tell us how long you’ve been published and what titles and/or series you write.
I write as Connie di Marco (for the Zodiac Mysteries) and as Connie Archer, I’m the author of the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries from Berkeley Prime Crime.
Nice to meet you. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.
My first series was the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries published by Penguin Random House/Berkley Prime Crime. The first book, A Spoonful of Murder, was released in August of 2012. After that, I wrote A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave and A Clue in the Stew. As you can see, my publisher really liked plays on words.
My second series is the Zodiac Mysteries, published by Midnight Ink (the fiction imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide). This series began in August of 2016 with the first book, The Madness of Mercury. This was followed by All Signs Point to Murder and now my recently released Tail of the Dragon.
Those all sound great. As someone who enjoys astrology, I think I would find your Zodiac mysteries interesting. Please tell us more about them.
The Zodiac Mysteries, my current series, features Julia Bonatti, a San Francisco astrologer who never thought murder would be part of her practice. Julia lost her fiancé in a hit and run accident a few years before the start of the series. Instead of continuing with her career plans, she found solace in the study of astrology and developed a completely different career. She’s been very successful in building her clientele and she also writes Ask Zodia, an astrological advice column for the Chronicle. Tail of the Dragon is the third book in the series and will be released on August 8th this year.
In Tail of the Dragon, Julia agrees to go undercover at her client’s law firm. He needs her help because three people have received death threats and the only common denominator between them is a case long settled — the infamous Bank of San Francisco fire. Before Julia can solve the mystery, two people are dead and her own life is in danger.
You got me hooked.
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 plan to continue the Zodiac Mysteries. I think Julia’s world offers a lot of adventures. I’ve also started working on a police story set in Los Angeles, plus I have several ideas for other traditional mysteries.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
First and foremost, these are mysteries, so I think anyone who enjoys a good story would appreciate the Zodiac Mysteries. If a reader happens to have an interest in astrology, all the better. Julia leads a very exciting life and I always try to incorporate lots of thrills and danger in these books.
I think you have a wide audience. There are a lot of people who enjoy astrology, if only for fun. By the way, I’m a Taurus.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Don’t give up. Keep writing and most importantly, read the writers you most admire. I believe as writers we learn more from reading the masters in our genre than from reading all the available “how to” books. I’m not knocking those books at all, they have their place, but the best way to educate yourself as a writer is to learn from the very best and keep writing.
That’s so true.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
Well, I guess the biggest challenge was grappling with the question, “Could I do this?” Could I write a mystery? My goal when I started was to write one mystery and (hopefully) get it traditionally published. I didn’t know anything about self-publishing, so I didn’t think of that at first. I never anticipated that six years later, or maybe more because I started writing a few years before I was published, that I would have written eight books in two different series.
What a great accomplishment.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
Yes – Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, all wonderful organizations. Also, Sisters in Crime includes the Guppies, which stands for the Great Unpublished. Sisters at the national level (and there are many local chapters all over the country) can offer all sorts of help and guidance in writing and publishing for newbies.
We belong to a few of the same groups. I’m a member of International Thriller Writers and also Sisters in Crime. Even though I’m already published, I also recently joined the Guppies because I’m hoping to publish with a large publisher one day.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
Astrology is certainly an interest of mine, as you can tell by the career path I’ve given my protagonist Julia, but I also enjoy making soups (this came in handy for the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries), sewing and refinishing furniture. The problem is time, of course. If I’m busy writing there’s very little time to pursue these other interests.
I can relate to that. I’m a librarian, so it’s easy for me to write about Alicia, the librarian who is the protagonist of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
It’s really a thrill to create a whole world of characters and to know that these “people” will have a life of their own and many stories to tell. It’s a wonderful feeling when ideas flow and plots come together. I guess the toughest challenge is the start of a new book. I wonder if I can do this again. I wonder if I can make this book even better. It feels as if I’m gearing up to climb a mountain, but somehow, one sentence, each word, leads to the next and before I know it, a new story is coming together.
Yes, I’ve had those feelings, too.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
I don’t think in terms of ‘cozy’ or ‘not cozy.’ I just try to write the most interesting story I can come up with. Call it mystery or thriller, call it crime writing – it’s an area I find fascinating. What is most fascinating is the psychology of those involved in the crime. What forces could cause an ordinary person to commit a terrible act? Was their survival at stake? Was it a crime of passion? An act they wish they could undo? What drives people to do such a thing? Writing mysteries is an endless study of psychology.
Good point. I agree.
Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?
Sure, I’d be happy to. Thank you!
EXCERPT – TAIL OF THE DRAGON – by Connie di Marco
I followed the curve from Sutro Heights down to the Great Highway. Here, the road runs parallel to Ocean Beach. Sheets of sand had blown across the highway and formed dunes every so often high enough to block the ocean view. Waves crashed against the concrete abutment sending salt water spray across my windshield. I turned east on Ulloa away from the roiling Pacific and spotted Sarah Larkin’s address on the opposite side of the street. The wind off the ocean picked up, blowing east. Particles of dust and beach sand hit my face as I climbed out of the car. Keeping my head down for protection, I hurried across the street.
I climbed the long stairway to the front doors where a sign indicated 3102-3104. At least here, in the shelter of the entryway, there was respite from the wind. I pressed the buzzer to the door on the right. After a moment, a woman called out. “Who is it?”
“Hi. My name is Julia Bonatti. I’ve come from Meyers Dade & Schultz.”
The door was quickly yanked open by a woman in her late forties. Her face was round and slightly puffy. She wore no makeup and was dressed in a nondescript brown jumper over a black sweatshirt. Her long hair, streaked with gray, was combed back behind her ears.
She peered at me. “For God’s sake. What now? I told him I didn’t want anything from him or his damn law firm.” Her eyes were thin puffy slits.
“I . . . I’d just like to talk to you about your brother. I was hoping maybe you could help us in finding his murderer.”
“His murderer . . . I’d give his murderer a prize if I knew who he was,” she sneered. She looked me up and down and finally decided she’d talk to me even if it was only because I offered a sounding board for her bitterness. “Come on in,” she said resignedly.
“I gather you and your brother weren’t close, but I am sorry for your loss.”
“Don’t be. Wasn’t a loss. Believe me. I haven’t talked to Jack for years. Since my son died.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” A familiar pain flickered in my chest. My loss seemed small in comparison.
“Nicky was sixteen when he died. He had a drug problem. He got mixed up with the wrong kids and they were into some heavy stuff. I was sure if he had one more chance . . . a good chance, he might make it.” Her voice trailed off. “I begged Jack for the money. I never asked him for a thing in my life. Never. But I begged for that.”
“Said he didn’t see why he should pay for rehab or counseling. The other places hadn’t done Nick any good, so what difference did it make?” She looked at me, her eyes betraying a deep well of pain. “Jack never really loved anyone in his life. How could he possibly understand what it’s like to love a child? I didn’t have anyone else to ask. My husband was killed in a car accident when Nick was seven. Our parents are dead, and Jack had plenty of money. Big, successful lawyer . . . but he didn’t give a damn about me or Nick. Yeah, I hated him. I still hate his guts. I don’t care if he’s dead, I only wish he had suffered more.”
Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
I love to hear from readers. Don’t forget, all writers work in isolation, so it’s important to hear if people enjoy your stories. I can be reached at the emails listed on my website(s), so please don’t be shy. All writers love to hear from readers! After all, that’s why we do this. We love to entertain.
Isn’t that the truth?
Please list your social media links, website, and blog if you have one.
You can visit my website and blog at http://conniedimarco.com, at Facebook.com/ConniediMarco(Author) and Twitter @AskZodia.
My website and blog for the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries can be found at http://conniearchermysteries.com, Facebook.com/ConnieArcherMysteries and Twitter @SnowflakeVT.
And before I forget, I blog regularly on the 15th of the month at Killer Characters where one of my characters does the talking.
Sounds great. I have my own Cobble Cove character chat group on Facebook where I also feature a character each month.
I’m also including the link to your rafflecopter. Best wishes on your tour and new release. http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792730/?widget_template=56d5f80dbc544fb30fda66f0