Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Interview with Catherine Maiorisi
I’ve published four books. The Blood Runs Cold, the second in the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series, is my newest. I’ve also published A Matter of Blood, the first Corelli mystery, and two romances.
How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Drafts of the Corelli mysteries, the first fiction I’d ever written, were completed more than ten years ago. When I started writing the series the goal was two detectives in the style of Elizabeth George’s Lynly and Havers. But over the years I rewrote the characters many times, so Corelli and Parker are very different from the original versions and not at all like George’s detectives. For example, rather than have Parker be poor and less polished like Havers, she is a private school, Yale, Harvard Law graduate while Corelli is from a working class Italian family and got her college degree at night. Also, I’ve layered Corelli and added depth to her character by having her reflect what was happening in the world around her, like the World Trade Center bombing and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
As for location, I live in New York City and I believe it’s the greatest city in the world. The city is so varied that there many, many places to set a story besides the familiar ones like Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and the High Line. For example, the United Nations comes into play in The Blood Runs Cold. And, I’ve used Penny Park and the 79th Boat Basin, a marina in the middle of Manhattan where people live on their boats, as locations in short stories. Why make up a small town or write about a real small town, when within the five boroughs of New York City there are so many fascinating communities to set a murder investigation?
What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?
My schedule is flexible. I don’t write everyday, and when I do, I don’t have a fixed time or a fixed number of words. Some days I spend on promotion, some days I just read, some days I do household chores, some days I do all of the above as the mood strikes me.
I start the day with coffee, breakfast and The New York Times. The Times can be a time suck so I’m careful to not spend the day on it. I generally sit down to work around ten thirty or eleven a.m. Depending on my mood I write either in my living room or I go out to my favorite breakfast/lunch place, Edgar’s Café, and write under a huge painting of Edgar Allan Poe. If I’m on a roll, I write until I run out of words, sometimes midnight or later. I’m the cook in my house so usually I write until around five when I start to prep dinner.
Around seven thirty or eight I may continue to write or pick up the book I’m reading. At nine I’ll watch news for an hour and then go back to what I was doing. I go to bed around midnight but if I’m really into what I’m reading I’ll stay up until the early morning to finish it.
Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
As I indicated earlier, I started out modeling my two main characters after Elizabeth George’s characters but as I became a better writer they changed, and with each rewrite they changed, and now they are my creations, my characters.
Occasionally, someone I’ve known will inspire a character but that’s as close as I get to real people. My characters are derived from my experience and knowledge of human nature. They come to me as I need them and evolve as I write them. It’s an amazing process that I don’t quite understand. For example, in The Blood Runs Cold a newspaper reporter just showed up out of nowhere and became an important part of the story. And then there are the hero kittens. My books aren’t cozies so I certainly never thought of including kittens, but there they were right in the middle of the action just when they were needed.
If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Right now I would say Rachel Weisz who I saw recently in The Favorite. I think she can project Chiara’s strength and her vulnerability, her warmth and her anger, and her determination. I also think she’s beautiful but unusual looking.
Who is your favorite author?
In mystery, Elizabeth George is still one of my favorites. I also enjoy Val Mcdermid, Laura Lippman, and Karin Slaughter, but there are so many new, really good mystery writers that I can’t name just one.
If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Michelle Obama – for her warmth and brilliance
Nancy Pelosi – for her political acumen
Radclyffe Hall – for her bravery in publishing The Well of Loneliness
Eleanor Roosevelt – for her activism and living her life her way
Toni Morrison – for her writing
If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I’ve already had another career in technology that I loved. I owned a small technology consulting firm for a number of years, and then worked as a management consultant myself. And now, I love writing novels. And publication is the icing on the cake.
But if I were choosing a career today I would run for political office. I believe we have an opportunity to make real change in our society and I’m inspired by the number of women jumping into the political fight at all levels of government.