TA: Oh, WOW! I wish I could have picked your brain before I wrote Limoncello Yellow! I knew I was going to write colorful mysteries (can you tell by the color in the title?), so I wanted a colorful setting for the series. Of course, Austin’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” but no city in the U.S is as weird, wonderful and wild as New Orleans. I mean, Austin has jazz, but we definitely don’t have plantations, voodoo, or Mardi Gras debauchery!
Kathy: In addition to murder, Franki has to deal with a meddlesome Sicilian grandma. Are you able to admit to some personal experience in this matter?
TA: My nonna was from Le Marche, one of the lesser known regions of Italy (among Americans). But she was definitely a meddler, i.e., a manipulator, so I do have some personal experience in the matter. But the inspiration for the Sicilian nonna actually came from my studies of the Sicilian language and culture and my hilarious experiences with an old friend of mine’s elderly Sicilian great aunt.
Kathy: If you had to choose between eating only Tex-Mex food or Italian, which would you choose?
TA: I can’t believe that I’m going to publicly admit this, but I would have to say Tex-Mex food. Here in Austin the breakfast taco reigns supreme, as do cheese enchiladas and the mighty burrito. These things are as essential to my diet as water, and every time I leave Texas (even to go to Italy), I crave them like a junkie (probably) craves heroin.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
TA: Reading Nancy Drew as a child and years of watching Murder She Wrote reruns. I also blame Agatha Christie for my cozy obsession, even though I think she’s considered traditional mystery. What it all boils down to is that I’m not interested in reading about gory murders—I just want to know about the personalities and motivations behind the murders.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
TA: No, just cozy mystery because I view it as such a flexible genre. In addition to the mystery piece, it allows for romance, hobbies and comedy. And I’m all about funny.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
TA: Here’s the official blurb: “When Franki Amato left her cheating ex and unpredictable job as a rookie cop in Austin, Texas, she was hoping for a more ordinary existence working for her best friend Veronica’s private investigation firm in New Orleans. But life in The Big Easy turns out to be anything but routine. To solve a series of colorful murders and the mystery of her lackluster love life, Franki must rely on a highly unlikely cast of characters.” But unofficially, I tell people that my series is about color, as in personality. Specifically, it’s about colorful characters in a colorful setting solving colorful murders.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
TA: Oh yeah. Glenda O’Brien (a.k.a. Lorraine Lamour), Franki and Veronica’s ex-stripper landlord. I love describing her risqué outfits, creating her brash dialogue, and cooking up her outrageous behavior. And it’s a whole lot of fun researching her stripper shoes.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
TA: Yes, Italian authors Andrea Camilleri and Gabriella Genisi. He writes the Inspector Montalbano series set in Sicily, and she writes the Inspector Lolita Lobosco series set in Bari, Puglia. From Camilleri, I took the Sicilian heritage and the emphasis on language and culture. And Genisi’s flamboyant protagonist and fruit-themed titles inspired me to come up with my own colorful character and titles.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
TA: It was kind of an accident that I got published. A fellow writer suggested that I enter an online contest for the experience. So, I did. And to my complete shock, I ended up with a two-book publishing deal.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
TA: Hm. As of right now I would say Janet Evanovich, Gemma Halliday, and the two Italians who inspired me, Andrea Camilleri and Gabriella Genisi. It would be fun to see how the American and Italian mystery writers would interact, especially since all of them have so much personality.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
TA: I’m just about to start J.B. Lynn’s Nearly Departed. The book is getting rave reviews, and it’s about a crime-scene cleaning lady who can talk to ghosts. How can I lose?
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
TA: Yes, but you may die of boredom! I worked for years to learn Italian, and then I was lucky enough to teach it at the University of Texas at Austin for eleven years. To maintain my language skills, I watch Italian soap operas and write a nerdy Italian literature and language blog called italicissima. I interview Italian authors for the blog, which played a huge role in the creation of Limoncello Yellow.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
TA: Nutella, pasta, espresso and olive oil. Can you tell I’m Italian-American? LOL!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
TA: Yes to both! Right now I’m writing the second novel in the Franki Amato Mystery series. It’s called Prosecco Pink, and you can read the book blurb on my website at http://traciandrighetti.com/books/.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
TA: Seeing my books come to life in the minds of my readers. I love it when someone tells me that the book reminds them of their grandmother or a vacation they once took to New Orleans. That’s the best!
Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
TA: Thank YOU! Grazie mille!
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