I'm pleased to welcome Adriana Licio to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Adriana pens the Homeswapper Mystery series. THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES is the first book in the series and was released earlier this month.
Kathy: In the Homeswappers Mystery series Etta and Dora swap homes for a vacation. Homeswapping is an interesting concept. Have you ever tried it?
AL: For the past 15 years, my hubby and I have taken all our holidays this way, swapping homes with 40+ fellow travellers around the world.
Since 2010, when Frodo, our golden retriever, joined the family, we have given up flying and been driving all the way to European destinations. Frodo has homeswapped 20+ times, including visits to London and the UK, the Pyrenees, Brittany, Switzerland, Austria, Amsterdam, France, Stockholm and its archipelago, Gdansk and other parts of Poland, Prague, the quaint island of Ærø in Denmark and many more!
Kathy: What made you choose Germany as Etta and Dora’s first country to visit as part of a swap?
AL: My choice was more particular than that: not Germany as a whole, but the charming town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It was our first homeswap destination with Frodo back in 2010, and I thought that was something worth celebrating. Especially now, a decade later, when for the first time in years we won’t be going anywhere because of the pandemic.
In addition to that, this quaint little town is intriguing, cosy and mysterious all at the same time. I loved the Night Watchman’s tour, the shame masks that people were forced to wear in the middle ages in public if they misbehaved. Basically, it had all the material I needed to get a story going.
Kathy: Etta and Dora are described as two adventurous sexagenarians. With such a youth focused society I’m pleased to see more mature women as protagonists. Was it a conscious decision to make Etta and Dora older?
AL: Yes, it was a deliberate decision. Giovanni, my husband, is in his 60ies; I’m approaching 50. But we don’t feel that much different to the way we were 20 years ago. Well, in all honesty, there are some differences physically, of course, but inside we have the same energy, we pursue the same dreams and passions.
I wanted to celebrate this energy, this wish to live life to the full at 60 and beyond!
Kathy: Napoleon is a loveably disobedient Basset Hound. Is he based on a real dog?
AL: As I’ve mentioned above, I’m owned by a lovely Golden Retriever, Frodo. He’s my best pal, he’s accompanied us on all our travels, so I wanted to celebrate in my books the magic sparkle that brings humans and their furry friends together.
Frodo is a rather independent dog and has his own opinions on the things we should do, where we should visit, the attractions to see in a new place, his likes and dislikes. Napoleon is more stubborn, but some of his traits have their roots in Frodo.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
AL: Have you seen my bookshelves? Agatha Christie’s entire collection, Andrea Camilleri, Rhys Bowen, MC Beaton, TE Kinsey. What else could I write?
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
AL: Just cosies, at present.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
AL: My first series, An Italian Village Mystery, is set in the enchanting seaside town of Maratea (why not google it and discover it for yourself?) situated on a breathtaking stretch of coastline in Southern Italy. It features Giò Brando, a travel writer and reluctant sleuth who returns to her home and family to nurse a broken heart after her forthcoming wedding in London is called off. The setting gave me the scope to describe Italian lifestyle, culture, food in a small town.
My second series, The Homeswappers Mysteries, is launching shortly (more details coming soon).
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
AL: I confess, I don’t have a favourite (except Leon, of course!). Even when I write about the baddies, there’s something that attracts me to them, so I can safely say I like all my characters, if to varying degrees and for rather different reasons.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AL: Well, my inspiration comes from the things I like the most: travelling, reading, hiking, pets, perfumes, good food, small villages, and homeswapping.
The inspiration for the Homeswappers Mysteries is almost autobiographical, given my love for homeswapping. As for my first series, I set An Italian Village Mystery in Maratea, which again is a real place and my refuge when I need time away from work.
Agnese, Giò’s sister, owns a perfumery and loves to advise her customers on the best fragrance to see them through a particular moment of their lives. And I’m intrigued by the world of essences and perfumes.
Giò herself is a travel writer (did I mention I’m a travel freak?), and then there’s Granny. Granny loves to cook using the old family recipes, but she can also outsmart her two granddaughters when it comes to sleuthing. (I love good food, and old gossips too!)
So in each series and story, there’s a mixture of issues, places, themes I’m fond of or want to explore in more depth.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
AL: The day I found out that I could control the whole process as an indie author, from deciding the stories I want to write to choosing my own collaborators (editor, cover designer), to publishing and marketing, I decided the time was right for me to write my books.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
AL: That’s easy! Andrea Camilleri, MC Beaton, Rhys Bowen and Agatha Christie.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
AL: I’m listening to another book in the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen, and reading my first LJ Ross book, RYAN'S CHRISTMAS. I rarely start a series from Book 1.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
AL: Hiking (once or twice a week). I need regular contact with nature to put my mind at rest and soothe my wild spirits (so my hubby says). I also love reading and travelling when I can, especially as I now combine homeswapping with research for my stories.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
AL: We love fresh food from small local producers, so you will always find plenty of veggies and fruit (both of which vary according to season), ricotta and mozzarella, fresh milk. Of course, all kinds of pasta for the three of us (Frodo too enjoys fresh alimentation). Bitter dark chocolate, 85% cocoa.
A fresh cornetto (croissant) with a cappuccino is my treat for breakfast on special days, and guess what? That’s Giò’s favourite breakfast, too.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books, either in your current series or a new series?
AL: For 2020, I plan to launch two more books in the Homeswapper Mysteries series, with Book 2, A Wedding and A Funeral in Mecklenburg, leading Etta and Dora to the region of 1,000 lakes in Northern Germany to attend a traditional German wedding. (Spoiler alert: it won’t be that traditional!)
And Book 3 An Aero Island Christmas Mystery will be set on a cute Danish Island thrown far into the Baltic Sea. Lots of hygge, mulled wine, a quaint Christmas Market and, my goodness, a cruel murder. Of course!
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
AL: I’m not (yet!) a full-time author; I’d love to be one.
As an indie author, I love the freedom to create my own projects and follow them through, and being able to work from the most remote of places. It would be great to go on even more homeswaps in the future and work from homes other than my own!
Please leave a message in the comments and we will pick a winner for an eBook of THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES.
Free eBook: https://adrianalicio.com/murderclub
THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES by Adriana Licio
The First Homeswappers Mystery
Etta and Dora have left Castelmezzano, their small Italian village, and arrived in the medieval town of Rothenburg, Germany for their first homeswapping vacation. They are welcomed by friendly neighbors and charmed by their house as well as the town itself. On their first night the duo go on the historic tour given by the Night Watchman of Rothenburg. Grim tales of torture highlight the walk, but reality takes an even more gruesome turn when Dora and Etta, pulled by the man's dog, find his murdered body. While the more sentimental Dora is more than happy to take Napoleon, the orphaned Bassett hound, under her wing, analytical Etta starts to puzzle out the murder. Will the two retired Italian school teachers solve a German murder? Perhaps more importantly, will Napoleon find a new home?
Armchair travelers can rejoice with the Homeswappers Mystery series! This quick read had me engaged and curious with smart writing and quick wit. It had me alternately smiling and filled with concern. The detailed descriptions of Rothenburg made me feel as if I was exploring alongside Dora and Etta. The book was not merely a travelogue, however, as the author skillfully entwined tourist facts within the mystery. I am partial to history and really enjoyed learning about Rothenburg. I especially loved the Elizabeth Peters reference.
I love the juxtaposition that Dora and Etta represent; soft and hard, round and angular, emotional and rational, opposites, but both together necessary for success. The two protagonists are not the only opposites in the novel as well. We see different sides to many of the characters, some of which are quite a surprise. I really enjoyed seeing these secondary characters shine in their own way. I grew quite fond of a certain patron at the Devil's Ale and Leon easily wormed his way into my heart.
THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES made me want to pack my suitcase and explore the small European towns found off the beaten path. The mystery is a delightful start to a new series and I eagerly await traveling north for the next installment.
The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies: A German Cozy Mystery (The Homeswappers) by Adriana Licio
About The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: The Hometravellers Press (September 1, 2020)
A holiday is a time to relax, unwind and see the sights. But for two adventurous sexagenarians, the sights have a tendency to include dead bodies.
Etta and Dora, both newly retired teachers, travel from their home in Southern Italy to a fairy-tale German town for their first home swap holiday, delighted by their neighbours’ warm welcome. But the welcome turns sour when the Night Watchman of Rothenburg is brutally murdered while his tour group takes photographs nearby, a halberd buried in his chest and a peculiar iron mask by his side.
When the murderer claims a second victim and the son of their hospitable neighbours becomes the number-one suspect, Etta’s analytical mind goes to work. Why was a shame mask left at the scene of each murder? Is there a clandestine trade going on behind the scenes of apparently upstanding local businesses? And why does every lead take her back to the sinister Devil’s Ale pub and the terrifying gang who lurk within?
Meanwhile, Dora has a puzzle of her own – how can she persuade Etta that a loveably disobedient Basset Hound called Napoleon is now a permanent part of their lives?
◆◆◆ Pack your bags, jump into the backseat of Etta and Dora’s old Fiat 500, and join them on their travels around Europe. There’ll be mystery, murder and mayhem aplenty wherever they go. ◆◆◆
About Adriana Licio
She loves loads of things: traveling, reading, walking, good food, small villages, and home swapping. She runs her family perfumery, and between a dark patchouli and a musky rose, she reads and writes cozy mysteries. She resisted writing as long as she could. But one day she found an alluring blank page and the words flowed in that weird English she'd learned in Glasgow...
> Get a taste of Adriana's world reading And Then There Were Bones the prequel to her An Italian Village Mystery series, exclusive to the subscribers on her mailing list - https://adrianalicio.com/murderclub
Free Prequel: https://adrianalicio.com/murderclub
Purchase Link - Amazon FREE on Kindle Unlimited