The Next Big Thing

This post is part of a blog cycle in which writers talk about their works-in-progress through a series of questions, and then tag other writers to do the same. While I can't guarantee its "bigness" the following post is about my upcoming mystery:

What is your working title of your book?

My editor and the publisher just finalized it: Murder and Marinara: An Italian Kitchen Mystery.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My agent had the broad outline of an idea for a mystery series set in an Italian restaurant. I added the Jersey Shore setting and a protagonist who’s a mystery writer. The movie Big Night also served as an inspiration.

What genre does your book fall under?

A cozy mystery.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I think Maria Bello would make an awesome Victoria. One of her love interests, the chef in her family’s restaurant, is partially modeled on a former Top Chef contestant on whom I had a giant crush. Her second love interest is a woodworker from New Orleans. In my head he's sort of a Harry Connick, Jr./Keith Urban combo. And the murder victim may or may not be inspired by a certain bombastic governor of a certain Northeastern state in which I might happen to live.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Mystery writer Victoria Rienzi goes back to her family’s restaurant at the Jersey Shore to research a new book, but instead stumbles into murder, mayhem, and romance.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I am lucky enough to be represented by Kim Lionetti at Bookends, who sold the manuscript to the terrific Sandy Harding at NAL/Penguin. The book is due for release in fall 2013. It’s the first of a proposed series.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I worked on it in bits and pieces over six months, then wrote the bulk of the first draft over the summer.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Heather Webber writes romantic cozies, and I really enjoy her Lucy Valentine series. Lucy, like my protagonist, has a crazy family.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I mentioned, Kim gave me the nudge, but I have long been a mystery reader, starting with Nancy Drew when I was eight years old. I am a worshipful fan of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie, and love to read other Golden Age mystery writers such as Josephine Tey, Georgette Heyer, and Ngaio Marsh. Contemporary favorites include Anne Perry, Elizabeth George, Deborah Crombie, and Louise Penny, but P.D. James is the unequivocal master. When I told my son Adam about Kim’s suggestion, his response was, “I’ve always said you should do a mystery!” So I did.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Tasty food and delectable men. Each book in the series will have the name of a dish in its title and include recipes. And not one, but TWO love interests who are very different guys. Something for everyone, right?

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

The fun and feisty Florence Fois tagged me. I have tagged: ~Ash Krafton, a fellow member of Query Tracker, sometime critique partner, and always buddy. Ash is the author of Bleeding Hearts. Her new book, Blood Rush, is scheduled for release in early 2013. ~Kiersten Hallie Krum, a fellow member of the Liberty States Writers and a constant source of hilarity at meetings and conferences. Kiersten writes romantic suspense; her manuscript, Catch Me, won the 2012 Emily Award. ~Lorrie Thomson, a friend and fellow Bookends client who's been a terrific source of support and encouragement. Her debut novel, Equilibrium, is scheduled for release in September 2013.