This is the part of series of interviews with writers who are new to cozy mysteries. Some of them are established authors who have published in other genres. Others are in the throes of writing their very first book and planning its publication. It takes me right back to the start of my own writer’s journey before I hit the scary “publish” button with my first cozy.
Today, I have an interview with Adriana Licio, an Italian author who is getting ready to launch her first cozy mystery series—The Italian Village Mysteries. One look at the cover of the prequel to the series—And Then There Were Bones—made me want to drop everything, hop on a plane, and travel to Italy. Minus any dead bodies of course. By the way, if you want your own FREE copy of Adriana’s prequel, you can find all the details below.
So grab yourself a beverage and a snack, settle in, and find out more about what she has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.
1 – What inspired / motivated you to write cozy mysteries?
On my bookshelves, beside classics and travel literature, you’ll mostly find mysteries —Christies and cosies in particular. In fact, there are so many things in the genre that appeal to me—a good mystery with little violence, no gore, a glimpse into a community’s way of life,
quirky characters, and… gossip! I love a happy ending, and I don’t like cynicism of any kind. I adore heartwarming stories, exploring the problems we all experience in daily life with a healthy dose of humor, since I’m a firm believer in the power of a good laugh. In what other genre can you find all the above?
2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?
The community aspect – the fact that beyond the mystery, there’s a whole village or town with its army of characters. Reading a good cozy mystery, you learn about a place, its culture, habits, food, so the mystery, which has to be intriguing with a few good twists, never occurs in a vacuum.
3 – What stage are you at in your writing and publishing journey?
I’ve just launched my website, and it’s a very exciting moment since I will connect with my readers for the first time. On subscription, readers will receive a free e-copy of And Then There Were Bones, a homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and the prequel to my An Italian Village Mystery series. It’ll be the first time readers in general will get the chance to read a book of mine, which is both exciting and scary. So far, people who’ve read the book have been generous with their enthusiastic comments and encouragement, mostly asking me when the series will be out, which is a good sign.
In the autumn, my first two full-length mysteries will be available on Amazon. My editor is currently checking through book one, Murder on the Road, one more time before it goes to my proofreader. I’ve already written book two, A Fair Time for Death, and put it through its first round of editing. It’s now taking a rest, before the serious business of self-editing and professional editing starts in earnest.
4 – What are you most excited about in terms of publishing your first cozy? What are you nervous about?
The idea that people in a small town in the United States, or in remote parts of Australia or India or New Zealand might turn the pages of my books is simply exhilarating. That’s the reason why I accepted the challenge to write in English and not in Italian, my native tongue. English is a global language; it’s a doorway to the world. And we’re lucky to live in times where publishing our own work as indie authors is possible.
I love and fear technology at the same time. What if I don’t manage to upload my book to Amazon properly on launch day? I’m sweating, beating my fists frantically on my PC, then the whole thing explodes…
But hey, I’m in my bed! It was just a bad dream.
5 – Tell us about the cozy mystery you’re currently working on. What’s your sleuth like? Where is it set? Do you have a hook?
My heroine is feisty travel writer Giò Brando. At the age of 38, she comes back to her hometown in Southern Italy, devastated after breaking up with her fiancé just 30 days before their wedding was due to take place. Hoping for peace, quiet and family life, she stumbles on to… a corpse!
Apparently, a falling rock killed a woman as she parked her car. But, was this tragic accident really an accident? And was the woman, PA for a powerful local man, the intended victim?
The setting is Maratea, a quaint little village on the Mediterranean coast, which is a real place I visit every time I need peace of mind. Its spectacular wild beauty, with vertical rock walls plunging into the waters below, never fails to remind me that life is far more than the daily rush or occasional grump.
Tapping into her adventurous nature, Giò looks for clues among the gossips that abound in this quirky Italian village, her quest for the truth regularly taking her into the local cafes and bars, and her sister Agnese’s perfumery. Here, customers come and go with their unique problems and pains, some touching, others laugh-out-loud funny, knowing that Agnese will advise them on the right perfume to use at the perfect time. Not easy, maybe, but still much easier than keeping her impetuous sister Giò from nosing around and putting herself into real danger…
6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”
It’s not exactly a cookie, more of a pastry called bocconotto and it’s a specialty of Maratea. You can try them in a local shop where the fragrant treat is served hot, straight from the oven. There’s a whole range of fillings to choose from – I prefer the sour cherry version, but I’m guessing Mollie would lead you straight over to the chocolate one.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mollie she’s referring to is the main character in my cozy mystery series and she does have a serious obsession with chocolate. I do too. I wonder where she got it from?
7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?
The poor wee one is wearing a sombrero to protect himself from the summer heat of Maratea. But what is he holding in his hands? It’s a Nativity scene musical box, and he’s here to remind me that I need to go to Christmas Land and finish that novel of mine.
Where had I got to in the story? Well, there’s an old Irish tune being played in an ancient Christmas crib; a lonely mother and daughter landing in Maratea; books disappearing from the local library only to reappear a few days later; and Giò trying to make sense of it all. Have you got all that? No? I’d better don my mittens and scarf, ready to follow the penguin, then.
Oh, hold on a minute, Ellen has one more question for me. Of course, I’ll answer that before I go. What did you want to ask, Ellen?
8 – What else would you like people to know about you?
I’m never too good at talking about myself, despite being a writer. Such a shame, I know. But I’d love to invite readers who like cozy mysteries in stunningly beautiful settings to come over and get to know my corner of Southern Italy through my free e-novella, And Then There Were Bones. And then let me know their frank opinion of it! It’s an exclusive gift on subscription to my newsletter – the terrific Maratea Murder Club.
[Adriana waves farewell to Ellen and her readers and follows the impatient penguin to Christmas Land. Bye-bye, summer.]
Adriana, who lives in Southern Italy, is the author of the upcoming series An Italian Village Mystery. She resisted writing as long as she could, but one day she found an alluring blank page and the words flowed in the weird English she’d learned in Glasgow.
She loves loads of things: traveling, reading, walking, good food, small villages, and home swapping. She runs her family perfumery, and between a dark patchouli and a musky rose, she devours cozy mysteries. Adriana finds peace for her restless, enthusiastic soul only when walking in nature with her golden retriever Frodo and her hubby Giovanni.
You can find out more about Adriana on her website: adrianalicio.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, you can download your free e-book And Then There Were Bones, chat about cozies, and receive a map of Maratea and Giò’s photo album of her favorite places by subscribing to her newsletter at: www.adrianalicio.com/murderclub
Thank you so much for being on the blog today, Adriana! Your new series sounds wonderful. And I can’t wait to get to Italy soon and try one of those cookies.