We are joined this month by fellow Level Best Booksauthor Marco Carocari, whose debut thriller Blackout releases March 30. Look for an interview with Marco, who is also a highly talented and widely published photographer, in this issue.
You will find some changes in this newsletter. With the release date nearing for A Dead Man's Eyes, I have decided to return to a monthly newsletter schedule. I have also added a News andEvents section for my virtual and in-person book tour along with a link to a News and Events page on my website.
I hope you enjoy it!
Congratulations to Aubrie Entwood, who won Circle of Influence, a Zoe Chambers mystery, by Annette Dashofy, in the January newsletter drawing!
Meet Marco Carocari
Marco Carocari grew up in Switzerland, where he, over the past fifty-odd years, worked in a hardware store, traveled the globe working for the airlines, and later as an internationally published photographer, and frequently jobbed as a waiter, hotel receptionist, or manager of a professional photo studio. In 2016, he swapped snow-capped mountains, lakes, and lush, green pastures for the charm of the dry California desert, where he lives with his husband. Blackoutis his first novel.
About his book
Strait-laced forty-something Franco definitely picked the wrong night to get freaky. A hook-up with a hot guy on his Manhattan rooftop, and a joint he's unaware is laced, leaves him dazed. And-if memory serves him-the sole witness to a murder across the street.
Except, the cops can't find a crime scene or a body, and Franco's perforated recollections and conflicting testimony leave the detectives unimpressed. When days later the mutilated body of a philanthropic millionaire is discovered, he's not only shocked to learn he knew him, but with Franco's fingerprints all over the crime scene, he quickly graduates from unreliable witness to prime suspect. And the random trick who could alibi him has vanished into the anonymity of the Internet.
Unsettled, and confronted with forty-year-old memories, when Franco's father was murdered in front of him during Manhattan's infamous blackout, a shocking revelation finally unmasks the man who pulled the trigger that night. And painting Franco the perfect suspect.
With a target on his back and time running out, the truth will set Franco free, or earn him a toe tag at the morgue.
A Conversation with Marco Carcocari
Q: After all these years as a flight attendant and photographer, what finally motivated you to write a novel?
Marco: I felt queer protagonists were severely underrepresented in traditional crime fiction, and I wanted to write a book where gay is a part of who my protagonist is, but not the plot of the story. And, because I seem to like doing things the hard way, I wanted to see if I could get away writing it in English (and not my native German), so the end result would read like novels by my favorite US authors. It took nearly eight years, from start to finish, and I’d say I accomplished at least two out of three (One is up to readers to decide.).
Q: You were born in Switzerland and now you live in California. What inspired the 1970s New York City setting for Blackout?
Marco: I’m a total Americanophile, and fascinated with all things 70s, especially New York City. With its vibrant music and nightlife and rich (crime) history, New York always struck me as a place where literally anything can happen. And when I learned of the ’77 blackout I was really intrigued, and wanted that to be a part of my story, though we mostly follow Franco’s journey nearly forty years after his father was killed in front of him during that fateful night in New York.
Having lived a somewhat sheltered life, growing up in Switzerland during the 70s, I lacked the experiences my characters have, and I had to read a lot about those times and talk to people who lived through it, to get a better understanding of the experience.
Q: What is your favorite scene in the book and why?
Marco: Some of my favorite scenes involve Franco and his friends, and it was fun coming up with the dialogue between them that would mirror our own the most, were we in the same situation. My gang (many of whom are Italian) and I are a very vocal group when we’re together—everyone’s got something to say, fairly often simultaneously, and when discussions or arguments ensued, in the past, it wasn’t uncommon for me to return home with my ears throbbing like I’d just emerged from a nightclub.
But, as I do, Franco knows—despite what’s said, even in the heat of a moment—he can always count on his friends. Their reactions are out of love (including the onslaught of unsolicited advice).
Q: With the novel’s debut only a few weeks away, what makes you most nervous or excited about the experience?
Marco: I’m fortunate to send Blackout out into the world with some wonderful praise from writers I admire very much, but now it’s open season. :-)
I hope people will love and enjoy my story, but I need to work on developing that thick skin for when that one, inevitable scathing review drops (apparently one hasn’t ‘made it’ until that happens) and I hope booze is nearby when it does.
But I am thrilled and amazed at the support of the (crime) writing community, and the kindness the people in it keep showing me.
Q: What can we expect from you next?
Marco: I outlined a sequel, if it comes to that (because there is a natural progression in Franco’s storyline), but spent most of 2020 researching and writing an LAPD procedural that’s intended as a series, if it gets picked up. My short story ‘All In The Planning’ will be published in Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical, and another submission is currently under review for another major anthology. Fingers crossed.
Q: Any advice for novice writers?
Marco: Don’t let yourself get sidetracked (too much), and keep your eye on the prize. ‘Getting there’ takes time, and often it’s completely justified. Blackout wouldn’t be the novel it is today if I hadn’t had years to learn, reflect, and grow, and I’m grateful rejections and disappointment made me dig my heels in deeper (not that I saw it quite like that, back then).
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow writers and your literary heroes. You’ll be surprised how welcoming and helpful many of them will be (something I wished I’d known much sooner).
My debut novel, A Dead Man's Eyes, will soon be available for preorder and that means it is time for me to start getting the word out. Here is a calendar of events, interviews and blogs that will feature the novel, due for release April 13:
(For the always-updated website version, click here.)
March 15, And We Thought. Podcast. I will be chatting with hosts Jade and Wilnoma and a few other creative females about a topic of their choice. They are so much fun! I am excited to be part of this award-winning show.
March 16, Mystery Writers of America- New York Chapter, virtual reading, 6 to 8 p.m. I will be among several authors who will read from their works. It's a great way to get the flavor of a few books and ask questions of authors. This is a Facebook live event, which will appear on the MWA-New York Facebook page.
March 23, Novelsalive hosted by Dayna Linton, guest blog post. Don't miss the chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card!
March 30, A Blue Million Books, blog interview. Host Amy Metz asks some fun and intriguing questions. Amy is also an author, which makes it even more fun!
April 6, Cozy Up with Kathy, blog interview. Kathy is a fellow writer and president of Murder on Ice, the Central New York Chapter of Sisters in Crime. I am excited to be interviewed for her blog!
April 12, The Write Review, live interview on Facebook. I am thrilled for this interview with Annie McDonnell, who gives so much to the writing and reading communities that a book award was recently created in her name. Join us for a chance to win a copy of A Dead Man's Eyes. Time to be announced.
April 13 (Book release day!). Dru's Book Musings, guest blog post. Read about a day in the life of main character Lisa Jamison on Dru's award-winning blog. I am honored to appear in this blog on the birthday of A Dead Man's Eyes!
April 14, Five Compelling Questions with Shawn. Host Shawn Reilly Simmons is one of the Dames of Detection, who are the publishers of Level Best Books, and an established author herself. Shawn produces podcasts in partnership with Authors on the Air. Her podcasts are fun (like Shawn!) and informative. I can't wait!
May 22, Canal Town Book Fest. This virtual event is hosted by the Dover (OH) Public Library and already includes more than 60 authors representing a huge variety of genres. There will be lots of giveaways and I will be participating on a panel with other authors. Links and more information to come!
My husband took this photo of the sun rising above Austinburg, PA, in late February from our front porch. That was a few days after he and our son Jon tapped a bunch of trees for syrup season. As you can see, the sap is starting to flow!
What's up with my books?
The final round of edits is done and I am anxiously awaiting the cover art. I will share the cover for A Dead Man's Eyes as soon as the novel becomes available for preorder, which should be in just a few weeks.
I am nervous and excited!
Writing time has been limited as I work to promote A Dead Man's Eyes, but I hope to get back into a regular schedule soon. Book three in the Lisa Jamison series is almost done. When that is done, I will send it off to beta readers while I reread Never Broken, book two, for any changes I need to make before I turn it in for the first round of edits.
Never Broken releases in April of 2022.
What's up at home?
During February break, I took my 14-year-old twin boys and my job on the road for a mini-vacation to the Philadelphia area, about four hours from home. They had just seen the movie Rocky, so they had a blast re-enacting the famous running scene on the art museum stairs and posing with the Rocky statue at their base. Our daughter is transferring to Temple University in the fall, so it was fun to explore the city that will be her home for the next two years. On our way to Philly, we took a detour to Penn State, where the boys got to see their older brother's apartment or the first time. I came home to a clean house, wine and a chocolate rose. So that was cool! My husband got lots of projects done when he wasn't working. It was good for the boys to get away after so many months of Covid confinement. They got some insight as to how Covid has affected the world outside their own bubble. In other adventures, the maple sap has started flowing in the woods beside the house. We will soon be boiling it down into bottles for our use, and for friends and family. I will include more photos in the next newsletter.
Happy writing and reading, and happy almost-spring!