Happy New Year, Traci, so glad to have you here today. Tell us a little about Limoncello Yellow. What inspired this story?
So many things! In addition to writing books, I blog about books written in Italian. The work of two of Italy’s best mystery writers, who write especially colorful novels, inspired me to write my own mystery. I wanted to create a series with vibrant titles, characters and plots that featured an Italian-American character. And I knew that “yellow” had to be in the title of the first novel in the series, because the Italian word for “yellow” (giallo) also means “mystery novel.”
In Limoncello Yellow, Franki Amato finds big trouble in The Big Easy.
Francesca “Franki” Amato is a tough-talking rookie cop in Austin, Texas—until an unfortunate 911 call involving her boyfriend, Vince, and a German female wrestler convinces her once and for all that she just isn’t cut out for a life on the police force. So Franki makes the snap decision to move to New Orleans to work at her friend Veronica’s detective agency, Private Chicks, Inc. But Franki’s hopes for a more stable life are soon dashed when Private Chicks is hired by the prime suspect in a murder case to find out what really happened to a beautiful young boutique manager who was found strangled to death with a cheap yellow scarf. When she’s not investigating, Franki is hoping to seduce handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, but most of her time is spent dodging date offers from a string of “good Italian boys”—make that not-so-good aging Italian men—that her meddlesome Sicilian grandma has recruited as marriage candidates. As Mardi Gras approaches and the mystery of the murdered shop girl gets more complicated, Franki must decipher the odd ramblings of a voodoo priestess to solve both the murder and the mystery of her own love life.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
I’m working on the second book in the Franki Amato Mystery series, Prosecco Pink. It will come out in September. Be sure to check out the book blurb on my website!
What are your writing goals for this year?
Well, I have to “build my brand” and market Limoncello Yellow, and both take a lot more time than I ever could have imagined. I also have to finish Prosecco Pink and start the third novel in the series, Campari Crimson. And somehow I have to do all of that while raising an 11-year-old boy and working a day job.
How do you come up with ideas?
Actually, I come up with titles of my books first. Then I use the titles as inspiration for the stories. So, for Limoncello Yellow, I had to figure out how to incorporate both the liqueur and the color into the plot in a way that wasn’t too easy or obvious.
What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
There are two scenes on Bourbon Street that I really like: one of Franki at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and another involving Franki and a drunk. But my favorite scene in the book is probably when Franki first arrives in New Orleans and a) finds a jazz funeral on her street and b) discovers that her new landlady is an aging ex-stripper who furnishes all her rental properties in bordello chic. And those are just two of many surprises in store for her.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
It’s kind of a tie. I absolutely love Rome, but I’m also obsessed with New Orleans, which is why I decided to set my books there. Of course, every city is unique, but New Orleans is particularly so given its peculiar blend of Native American Indian, French, Spanish, Italian and African cultures.
What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
I’m half Italian, so cooking Italian food is part of my heritage. To be honest, though, I’ve never been a big fan of my family recipes (sh!). So, I research and make dishes that I’ve eaten on my travels around Italy. But as a Texas girl, I do love eating Tex Mex. In fact, every time my husband and I go to Italy, we start to crave breakfast tacos, enchiladas and burritos!
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
Oh, Carolyn Keene (whoever that may be), without a doubt. I didn’t read a lot as a kid because I was always outside playing or watching reruns of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” but I made sure to read all of the Nancy Drew books that were in print at the time (I’m even the proud owner of The Nancy Drew Cookbook: Clues to Good Cooking). Something about Nancy and those books just got under my skin, and to this day mystery is my favorite genre.
What don’t most people know about you but you would like to share?
I was born in Timmins, Ontario, Canada, but my parents brought me to Texas when I was one month old. And it’s probably just as well, because the minute the temperature drops below 70 degrees, I’m bundled up in my house with the heater on.
These are few of my favorite things:
2. Italian leather handbags
And now Traci has a question for you all: Who is your favorite female protagonist from a mystery series, and why?
A Giveaway! I’m giving away 10 copies of Limoncello Yellow on Goodreads (the deadline to enter is January 14th). Also, I’ll be doing monthly giveaways of books, jewelry and gift cards to New Orleans boutiques throughout 2014. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter on my Facebook page or my website for details!
As I surveyed the scene at what looked eerily like the Bates Motel, I was shaking so badly from the cold and fear that I was afraid the gun in my holster would fire on its own. I longed for the cozy fire and protective embrace of my boyfriend that I’d felt as we’d exchanged Christmas presents just hours before.
“Folks, you need to go back to your rooms immediately,” Officer Stan Stubbs announced to the crowd of curious motel guests that had gathered.
When the onlookers began to disperse, the woman in room six began moaning again. According to 911 dispatch, she had been in distress for at least half an hour.
I gave an involuntary shiver and wondered what kind of animal would want to cause a woman pain that produced that sort of moaning.
“Something about this doesn’t feel like a regular domestic abuse situation,” Stan said, drawing his gun. “We need urgent backup, Franki.”
I nodded and grabbed the radio from my belt. “I have a 10-39 at the Twilight Motel on Manor Road. Request backup.”
Stan began his approach to room six.
I put the device away and drew my gun. Then I hurried over and took my place on the opposite side of the door from Stan.
“I’m goin’ in on the count of three,” he said in a low voice. “I need to get to the john, and quick like.”
I gasped. “Now, Stan?”
Stan was my partner on the Austin PD. As a rookie on the force, I’d been paired with a seasoned veteran of the department. Even though we’d spent the past six months together, I’d learned little from Stan except that he had a “wifey” named Juanita who worshipped the ground he walked on, he valued his handgun collection more than he did his now adult children, and he suffered from chronic gastrointestinal distress. And despite his self-proclaimed “legendary instinct” for cracking cases, he was perpetually baffled by his stomach issues even though the culprit was clear: a steady diet of jelly donuts and chorizo, bean and cheese breakfast tacos that he washed down with a gallon or so of coffee and Gatorade (Did I mention that he was also chronically dehydrated because of the diarrhea?). Needless to say, he spent the better part of every shift visiting the nearest men’s room.
Ignoring my concern, Stan grasped his gun with both hands and slammed his right shoulder into the door. It flew open instantly, and he stormed into the room. “Police! Hands in the air!”
As I rushed in behind him, my gun drawn, the woman let out a hair-raising scream.
“What in the hell?” Stan shouted.
I followed his gaze to the bed, and a chill went through my body.
“Why, it’s just a couple goin’ at it,” Stan scoffed.
I blinked hard. Was it my imagination playing tricks on me at 4:30 a.m., or was one member of that couple horribly familiar? As in, exchanging-gifts-by-a-cozy-fire familiar.
“Vince?” I said, my voice barely above a whisper as I stared at my boyfriend of over two years.
He looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights. “Franki?”
Make that, like a cheating rat caught in the act.
Stan looked from Vince to me. “You two know each other?”
I nodded, unable to speak. The chill that I’d felt initially had turned to a dull aching pain, and all I wanted to do was run from the room and cry. But I couldn’t because I was on duty.
“I’ll let you take it from here, Franki,” Stan said as he rushed into the bathroom and slammed the door.
No sooner had he left the room than the woman leapt from the bed—all 6′ 5″ or so of her—wearing nothing but her outrage. “Zis invazion iz illegal in Deutschland.”
“All right Franki,” Vince began in a patronizing tone, “no crime has been committed, so why don’t you put the gun down? Then we can all talk about this like rational adults.”
No crime? Rational adults? The dull pain was quickly turning to red-hot anger. Before I could think it through, I shouted, “If you think for one minute that I’m going to sit down to chat with you and your German whore here—”
The furious fräulein kicked the gun from my hand, and I watched in what seemed like slow motion as it flew under the bed.
“Be careful, Franki,” Vince warned. “She’s here from Munich on a semi-pro wrestling tour.”
“Oh, so now you’re worried about my well being, Vince?” I asked, backing away from the German giantess. Now that I’d mentioned it, I was a little worried about me too. She was squatting down low with her hands raised, like she was going to make mincemeat of me.
Buy Limoncello Yellow at: Amazon.com
Bio: Traci Andrighetti is the author of the Franki Amato mystery series. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a PhD in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime—writing, that is.
If she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Prosecco Pink, Traci is probably watching her favorite Italian soap opera, eating Tex Mex or sampling fruity cocktails, and maybe all at the same time. She lives in Austin with her husband, young son (who desperately wants to be in one of her books) and three treat-addicted dogs.
You can find Traci at: