Welcome to Rita’s Bower where readers gather to meet our favorite or soon-to-be favorite authors while sipping delicious drinks and savoring decadent treats. Serve yourself a plate and drink, settle back in a comfortable chair, prop up your feet, and welcome our guest author, Val Clarizio.
I am pleased to interview Val Clarizio who is the author of several novels and novellas. Val’s romantic mystery/suspense series, the Nick Spinelli Mysteries, is published by Melange Books.
I loved your webpage/blog, Val. You did a great job of introducing yourself and your stories. What made you decide to start writing?
In my younger years, while working a full-time job and part-time job, and plugging away on my Master’s Degree, I didn’t have much time for anything else like reading or writing. Just over five years ago, I finished my coursework and scaled back to working a full-time job and just one very part-time job. That said, I found myself with what felt like a ton of extra time on my hands, so I picked up reading for pleasure. I logged over fifty books read in the first year. I enjoyed reading so much I thought I’d take a shot at trying to write my own novel. And voilà, here we are.
You are in a great place with two books published and more under contract. Your webpage header features a picture of you and your husband in a gorgeous garden setting. Many authors write under a pen name and scrupulously keep their author and private lives separate. Why did you choose differently?
I debated for a long time whether or not to write under a pen name. I weighed the pros and cons and still couldn’t seem to make a decision. At some point, a fellow author asked me what name I was going to publish under. I shared a couple of the options I was considering and she piped in and said, “With a beautiful, uncommon name like yours, I can’t believe you’d consider writing under a different name.” Bam! Decision made.
As for my website header, I guess since I chose to go with my real name it made sense to share pieces of my real life as well.
Many webpages focus predominantly on “Buy my books.” You also blog about several topics that obviously matter to you – your family’s experiences with health challenges and diet, for example.
I’m a pretty open person. I like to chat with people and share ideas. When blogging about my real-life experiences I’m hoping maybe others will benefit from my experiences or perhaps someone else will share/post a response on my blog that will help me, or my other readers, with an issue we may be having.
Commendable, especially if one of your posts makes a difference with a reader. I just finished your latest book, Craving Vengeance, there were a lot of fireworks between Nick Spinelli and Shannon O’Hara. Can you share a bit about your story?
Craving Vengeance is the second novella in the Nick Spinelli Mystery series. After getting off to a rocky start in the first novella, both Nick and Shannon find themselves head over heels for each other. Things go great in the second novella until cupid is found murdered in a back alley on Valentine’s Day. Detective Spinelli is assigned to the case. So now, instead of spending his first Valentine’s Day with Shannon in a traditional manner, starting with a nice dinner out on the town and then perhaps a long warm adventurous night in her arms, he’s investigating the murder of cupid.
The investigation becomes more and more inconceivable, as Spinelli discovers that Shannon is linked to the victim. When another cupid turns up dead, and it is discovered that Shannon knows him as well, Spinelli is motivated to go undercover as a singing valentine dressed as cupid, complete with wings and a quiver of arrows. How many other cupids are at risk? Is Spinelli on the killer’s list as well? The stress ignited by the day’s events causes sparks to fly between Spinelli and Shannon as he struggles to piece it all together and stop the string of slayings.
The suspense that built over the Cupid-killers throughout Craving Vengeance was delicious. How did you manage to create it while you were writing the story?
Good, but tough, question. I do a small amount of plotting when I start a story. I know what I want the story to be about, and I know how I want it to finish, but somewhere in between my characters take over and tell me how it is going to be. Yes, I hear voices.
Nick and Shannon met in Covert Exposure, the first Nick Spinelli novel. Will the Nick Spinelli Mysteries be a series?
The Nick Spinelli Mystery series will continue on as long as there are remaining holiday issues to uncover. Novella #1 revolved around the Christmas holiday, novella #2, as you now know, revolves around Valentine’s Day, and currently, I’m midway through novella #3 but I’m going to leave you guessing for now as to which holiday is next on the list for mayhem.
Guess I’ll have to wait a bit. All authors know that book titles change, but it’s usually accomplished pre-publication. Covert Exposure was originally published as Cookies for Santa. Craving Vengeance also had another holiday-oriented working title. What is the story behind the changing titles?
As it turns out, when people read the title, Cookies for Santa, they think it is either a cookbook or a children’s book. It is even mistaken as a cookbook or children’s book at book signings even though the cover includes handcuffs and a gun. People seem to zone in on the title, milk and cookies, not the gun or cuffs.
After a period of misunderstandings, the publisher suggested a make-over for Cookies for Santa. The new cover and title focus on the mystery aspect, not the holiday aspect.
Having keyed in on the gingerbread man also, I see your point. The series is definitely not a children’s story. Tell us about the other books you have under contract.
Earlier this summer, I contracted with Whiskey Creek Press for two novels which are both scheduled for release in 2014.
Unforeseen Obsessions (Romantic Suspense):Alex lost her Police Officer husband to a cop-killer in the line of duty, and she’s vowed to see the murderer brought to justice. But she can’t do it alone, and turns to Peter DeBaker, her late husband’s best friend and co-worker. Peter sets out to find the killer, while trying to protect himself and Alex, who appears to be next on the murderer’s list.
Taken by Surprise (Contemporary Romance with suspense elements): Clare’s journey begins when she finally has her fill of Sean’s cheating ways. On impulse she chucks her well-to-do Milwaukee City life and moves into her grandparent’s old homestead in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan. The quiet small town of Iron City is just what she needs to get her life in order. However, disaster seems to follow her. Her now ex-fiancé is not about to let her go on her terms, and finds his way to the U.P. setting up roadblocks wherever he can. Additionally, her involvement with a public figure, aka town player, lands her in a world of trouble with his ring of female admirers sending her on a dangerously chaotic adventure. Through all the mayhem, Clare finds she was stronger than she’d thought.
What are you writing now and what are your plans for the future?
Currently, I’m working on the third novella in the Nick Spinelli Mystery series. Additionally, I’m working on a contemporary romance novel set in Chicago, and plotting the second novel for the Upper Peninsula series which was introduced in Taken by Surprise.
You’ve written several books that are published or contracted. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Decide what you want and stop at nothing to get it. I think I could wallpaper my house with rejection letters. Each letter motivated me to try harder and improve my writing. Also, I can’t express enough the importance of working with a good, honest, and devoted critique partner. When I start this quest I didn’t have a critique partner and I wasn’t sure where to find one so I joined my local writers group and found a great, supportive network, and an awesome critique partner. I’m am one hundred percent sure that without her I would not be published yet to this day.
Great insights. How can readers contact/follow you?
Website | Email | Twitter | Facebook
Thank you, Val, for visiting. Best wishes for the success of your new release, Craving Vengeance.
Thank you for inviting me, Rita. I enjoyed talking with you and your guests today. I always enjoy getting to meet new readers and authors.
You are welcome, Val. Drop by and visit anytime. The door to Rita’s Bower is always open. Happy reading, dear readers, until our next gathering...