Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m very excited to host a very special friend. Staci Troilo and I have been following each other’s blogs for more than a year. Not only is she the author of an awesome blog, but she’s also from the area where I now call home. Her love of Pittsburgh and her family permeates all of her posts. This past year she published Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir, obviously a mystery. Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir is the story of a young woman who lives in a cursed town plagued by murders and mystery. However, the actions of the main character, Naomi Dotson, result in dire consequences for a young boy, a sick mother, and her own family.
Welcome, Staci. I’m very pleased that you could stop by today. Please tell us a little bit about the messages or themes you try to convey to your readers.
Hi P.C. and P.C.’s readers. Thanks for inviting me to be part of your blog. I’m honored to be here, discussing the craft I love with a fellow Pittsburgher and a good friend. About my messages or themes… I think my author tagline says it all. It’s “Getting to the Heart of the Matter” because regardless of the genre I’m writing, I always default to the importance of love in a person’s life. Despite Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir belonging to the mystery genre (I know, with a title like that you were thinking sci-fi or western, right?), the overriding theme in the book is the strength love plays in family relationships. I most often write in the romance genre, where I still hold that family relationships are vital; I just pair them with blooming love between two people.
I’ve heard that love is the most powerful emotion of all, so it’s certainly a worthy topic for both your blog, where you often write about your family, and fiction, where there’s a multitude of opportunity for expressing the importance of all kinds of love. What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a four-book paranormal romance (alchemy, not vampires or werewolves). Book One, Bleeding Heart, is complete and with my agent. I’m now working on Book Two, Mind Control. Each book in the series has an overarching theme (heart, mind, body, and soul), but the entire series focuses on relationships. These are love stories, so of course there is a romantic element, but it goes beyond that, to the love between family members and the love between friends. This series is especially dear to me because the idea spawned from my grandfather’s ancestry. It’s changed and grown wildly since the beginning, but my grandfather’s roots are there.
I love your stories of your family on your blog, so I’m sure this series will be outstanding. What is it that intrigues you most about this theme of family and love?
In both Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir and my romance series, I focused on love because that’s what I feel is most important in the world. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am without my husband, my children, my extended family… even my dogs. I enjoy exploring lives where love is abundant, where it is absent, and all the permutations in between. St. Paul said it best, I think: “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
Beautiful and so true, Staci. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?
I have no definitive plans past my current WIP. I have a long list of ideas, so it’s just a matter of choosing the project that speaks to me the loudest. Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir spoke to me because the character was so darn spunky. The series I’m working on now has a hold on me because of its ties to my grandfather’s heritage. I can’t wait to see which of my many ideas grabs hold of me next. (But I have to finish this series first!)
How did you choose the title of your current work?
I didn’t choose this title; the editors did. The original title was Daddy Issues, because there is a strong father-child theme running through the book. I suppose Daddy Issues didn’t sound very mysterious, so the editors went a different way. And that’s fine; maybe the new title will make the book marketable to a more diverse reading audience. If I have the opportunity to reach more readers simply by changing the title, it’s worth it. So writers, be warned! Don’t grow attached to your title, because it might not be the title that gets published.
That’s very good advice. I don’t think I’ve ever had the original title go with the final published book. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.
This is a hard question to answer, because I have several favorite scenes. So instead, I’ll choose one that exemplifies the relationship between the two sisters. Naomi gets into one scrape after another in the book, and her sister Penelope constantly tries to rein her in. Normally there is sarcastic banter, but sometimes things get serious. Too serious for Penelope. After one of Naomi’s harrowing escapes, Penelope breaks down, and they have an emotional discussion about their parents’ deaths. She confesses that she can’t lose Naomi, too. It’s a real eye-opening moment for Naomi.
That’s a great scenario. Those family relationships can be loaded with land mines, and it’s always a great jumping off point as an author. Do you listen to music when you write?
I go back and forth on the music thing. Sometimes I just need quiet, so I turn everything off. Sometimes I need to breathe life into a scene, and I find it’s helpful if I’m writing somewhere with a lot of activity, like a local coffee shop. But most times I need mood music. I play the Rocky soundtrack for fight scenes, love songs for romantic moments, or classic rock or classical music (yes, I know these aren’t similar styles) when I just want some sound in the house. It’s pretty easy for me to tell that music helped me get past a barrier, because I’ll realize I’ve moved on to a different scene but not notice that I need to change the music to something else.
That’s very interesting. Most of the time when I write, I need either silence or music without lyrics. I’m always curious about where authors write, so where do you write?
All of my prior homes (and there have been a lot of them over the course of four states) had private offices, but when we moved to Arkansas, that was one luxury I had to give up. I have a desk in the corner of my family room, which works fine when the kids are in school. When they’re home, I sometimes take my laptop to my bedroom, but I can sit on a bed and type for only so long. Sometimes I’ll take my laptop outside. We have a pool with a waterfall, so it can be quite soothing out there. And as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes nothing beats writing at a coffeehouse.
I agree about coffeehouses. Even though I do have a dedicated office for my writing, I also write in different places in the house or in a public place, such as a coffeehouse or library. It all depends on what I’m doing. I love to hear that you do the same. It’s been a pleasure to have you drop by today, Staci. You’re an inspiration because I know you have two growing children, but still manage to write thoughtful blog posts and create fiction with important themes. My best to you on your next endeavors.
Thanks, P.C. I had a great time visiting with you and your readers.
About Staci Troilo: After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Staci Troilo went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, and she worked in corporate communications until she had her children. Now she is a freelance writer living in Arkansas with her husband, son, daughter, and two dogs. When writing fiction, she creates dark, dangerous heroes; strong, capable heroines; and complex, compelling villains, weaving their lives together into a contemporary tapestry of tantalizing romance.
Links to Staci’s books and social media sites
Amazon link: http://amzn.to/17N83SE
B&N link: http://bit.ly/1f4NMuG