I am from upstate New York and live in the mountains with my husband and two Bernese Mountain dogs, Max and Hansel. I went to college forever, getting a doctorate in health care. I am now retired, and started a hobby of genealogical research. While not writing or running after the dogs, we travel to Alaska, Canada and the southern US.
When I was little, my grandmother told me stories about the Italian immigrants who had come to America before the Depression. I learned to love her stories. And I began to write my own. While being in health care practice for years, I began to write my grandmother’s stories. My first published book, The Ragman Murders, is based on what I learned as a child. Now I have a chance to write. The stories I have found in my genealogical research have expanded my source of plots and characters. What struck me in all my research is that the men did things and the women stayed home, or at least, that is how history has been presented. I have learned differently.
Who is your favourite writer and why?
By the time I got into my teens, I was reading Jane Austen, Dickens, the Bronte sisters and Taylor Caldwell, my favorite writer for years. At first I read to learn history, since high school history I found very boring. Thomas Costain, and Brock and Bodie Thoene, all historical fiction writers, came later. Costain had the ability to take straight fact and make it read like a novel. The Thoenes have the techniques to make me cling to the book using the smallest of details to bring a scene to life. Currently, I have read my way through most of Anne Perry and Diana Gabaldon. Again all historical fiction. Now, I read for character development and writing style. For excitement, I have read Carmen Amato’s Emilia Cruz mystery series, a police procedural genre, not for the faint-hearted. I admit, I know Carmen.
What attracted you to your special genre?
I am sure it was my grandmother’s story-telling that got me interested in family and, then, history. My genealogical work simply cemented the interest.
Who is your favourite character you have created?
My characters are real. So far, my favorite character is Giuseppe Amato, the POV of “The Ragman Murders”. He is trying to do the best for his family. He is trying to be well-accepted in the community. He is trying to make money as fast as he can. But things get in the way. And his understanding of economics is not very good. He makes poor decisions, jumps into scenarios where he has no understanding. And in the end, he does not accomplish what he sets out to do. I like him because he is trying. I don’t like him because I disagree with his techniques and lack of patience.
How do you develop your story?
I like true stories. Most of the story line is researched. In The Ragman Murders, that meant looking at the old newspapers of the time, reading books on the Mafia in Italy and America of the early 20th century and doing research on the places where the story occurred. That means Calabria, Italy and New England. Since there are three timelines I had to follow for the book, this took a while. I interviewed people involved, peripherally, with the story to get an idea of the personalities of the characters. Then I had to put it all together. I started with the main event and worked backwards to find the causes of the final events.
In my new trilogy, Virginia Legacy, I am doing the reverse, starting at the beginning and working my way forward. This is the story of a very political family, so politics is center-stage. Research about early Virginia politics and families is sparse.
Upcoming project or advice?
My advice to authors is do anything you can to market. I give talks occasionally to groups about my book The Ragman Murders. It is interesting for many because I live in an area with many of Italian descent and stories about Italians intrigue them. Find a niche of interest and fill it.
Thank you so much for joining us, Elizabeth. I hope you will come back again soon and keep us updated on your progress with Virginia Legacy.