Friday, November 20, 2015

Interview with Joanne Guidoccio

What made you decide to be an author? From an early age, I loved curling up with a book and losing myself in the stories. In high school, I looked forward to English class and dreamed of writing the great Canadian novel. Instead, I followed the conventional advice of the times and pursued a career in teaching. In my heart of hearts, I knew that someday I would resurrect that writing dream. When I took advantage of early retirement in 2008, I decided to devote my second act to writing.

What do you like best about being a writer? After spending over three decades in a very structured environment, I welcomed the opportunity to set “flexible” creative goals and experiment with different genres. Right now, I’m alternating between cozy mysteries and paranormal romance. I also have a collection of angel stories and a cancer memoir on the back burner.

How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? While undergoing cancer treatments, I gravitated toward cozy mysteries. After devouring over fifty books in that genre, I imagined the following scenarios: What if a brunette lottery winner moves back to her hometown and finds herself involved in a murder investigation? And what if all the victims are blondes? I put pen to paper and started the first draft of A Season for Killing Blondes.

Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? Partway through the first draft of Between Land and Sea (Book 1 of The Mediterranean Trilogy), I struggled with the storyline. The protagonist was in a bind and needed help from someone outside her immediate circle. I didn’t want to introduce a new character or change the circumstances. After several frustrating days, I put the draft aside and waited for inspiration. It came one evening in a dream. A secondary character appeared and provided the solution. When I returned to the draft, I could feel her presence as I wrote. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer? I think of myself as a linear pantser. Once I get the spark of an idea, I let it percolate. While driving or doing routine tasks, I imagine characters and come up with a title. Before starting to write, I plan the first three chapters and the ending. As for the rest of the storyline, I let it flow as I write.

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? Experiment until you find your own unique voice and a warm, supportive environment where your words can flow freely. Sign up for creative writing courses—online or offline—that expose you to short stories, children’s and adult writing, creative nonfiction, and poetry. And, most important of all, enjoy the journey.

Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? While ideas were percolating, I happened to hear one of my favorite oldie goldies: Turn! Turn! Turn! As I sang along, I recalled that the lyrics had been taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes. The constant repetition of “Season” resonated with me and provided a title for the yet-to-be-written cozy: A Season for Killing Blondes.
Tell me more about A Season for Killing Blondes. Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.

When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.
How about an excerpt from A Season for Killing Blondes?

Three thousand euros worth of pastries. Can you believe it?

When I agreed to import the pastries, I had no idea I would be subsidizing the failing Italian economy and helping Silvio Berlusconi stay in power for a few weeks longer. Left to my own devices, I would have gone down the street to Regency Bakery, picked up some pastries and just walked them over. But my mother and Aunt Amelia were adamant. The open house for my new career counseling office needed a proper launch, one that could only be achieved with pastries from a Sicilian bakery.

To be fair, both of them were horrified when they saw that final four-figure amount on the invoice and swore me to secrecy. While conspicuous consumption is valued in the Italian community, being taken for a ride is not, and we would never hear the end of it from Uncle Paolo who is still complaining about the ten cents he has to pay for a shopping bag at No Frills.

I watched my mother rearrange the amaretto cookies, stuffed figs, biscotti, and other delicacies that had arrived yesterday. She and Aunt Amelia had brought in their best silver trays and carts and spent hours—according to Uncle Paolo—creating a colorful Italian corner.

“Everything is perfect. Maybe too perfect.” My mother made the sign of the cross and mumbled a Hail Mary.

“Relax, Ma. I’ve got everything under control. Nothing bad will happen.”

“Things have been going too well, Gilda. The lottery win. Your new career. This beautiful office. I’ve had one of my dreams, and you know what that means.”

Bio In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?


  1. Joanne - I love the description "linear pantser." Great interview - great story! 5 stars from me!

    1. Thanks Peggy! Appreciate your ongoing support :)

  2. Wow, Joanne, weird about that dream with the secondary character but how cool was that? Me, I have voices telling me the story all day long. Sometimes I just forget where I am and what I'm actually doing. good luck with the book.

    1. Hi Andrea, I've kept that character in Book 2, and I'm planning to feature her as protagonist in Book 3. Some characters simply won't leave us alone! Thanks for dropping by. :)