Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview my new friend, D. M. Pirrone. She is visiting the ECS as a guest and sharing loads of interesting insights into her work. Be sure to look around and see what she has to offer. Here are the results of our interview. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.
Hi there Diane! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Universe. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.
So tell me, who is D. M. Pirrone?
I’m a writer, editor and actor. Right now I’m writing mysteries, but I’m also a history buff and a huge SF fan. I have ideas for novels in every genre I read; sooner or later, I’ll get to them all.
I’m also a big Shakespeare nerd. The last role I played was Peter Quince (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Quince is a frustrated playwright, with a leading actor who keeps demanding rewrites and a cast that can barely memorize the simplest lines. Yet Quince keeps going. He doesn’t let anything get him down. I can relate to that.
What a Renaissance Woman you are, with a great sense of humor too. This should be a fun interview.
So whacha got for me today?
My debut mystery is NO LESS IN BLOOD, about an adoptee who goes looking for her family and ends up a target for murder by one of them because of a century-old legacy she never knew existed. The story unfolds in the present and in 1893 (when a wealthy young heiress vanishes, hence the creation of the legacy). Readers get to see both story lines play out at the same time.
I love the premise of this story. It sounds like a truly gripping mystery. I like that it’s a modern story, but takes you back to another time as well. My story Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel is like that, but I think it’s pretty cool that you have two stories from different times happening at once.
So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of No Less In Blood?
I have two main characters: Rachel Connolly in the present, Mary Anne Schlegel (the vanishing heiress) in the past. Rachel is smart, funny, and a lot braver than she gives herself credit for. At the start of the book, she’s feeling especially vulnerable because her Very Serious Boyfriend has just dumped her, and not too many months ago she lost her adoptive mother to a hit-and-run drunk driver. Her sense of security, of family, even of identity is knocked sideways, and so she decides to look for her birth mother in hopes of reclaiming some of that. She’s completely not expecting how this all plays out.
Mary Anne is seventeen, bright and headstrong and completely unwilling to live the conventional life of a small-town rich girl in 1893. She wants to go to college, become a writer, earn a living by her pen. And she ends up having to run away from home to do it. She heads off to Chicago and disappears there; her family has no idea what happened to her, or if she’s alive or dead. (The reader finds out, though.)
Again, I love this. I won’t keep rambling on about the similarities in our two stories, but I feel connected to yours already. This is a read I definitely don’t want to put off. The struggles of identity and family are big issues for me and in my writing, and who can get enough of a strong female character going above and beyond expectations. No matter the genre, this is what I write and what I like. Thank you for sharing.
Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?
I have a favorite theme: Events from the past that blow up in the present, forcing my characters to deal with the fallout. This happens in NO LESS IN BLOOD, it’s in both of the historical mysteries I’ve written (still looking for a publisher on those), and it’s central to the contemporary novel I’m working on now. I’m 80 pages or so into it, tentatively titled THIS DARK AND TROUBLED TIME. It’s the first manuscript I’ve written that isn’t a crime novel, though a crime does lie at the heart of it. A newborn baby girl is stolen, and the book is about the effects of that act on the mother who loses her child, the woman who steals and raises the child, and the child herself as a young adult when she finds out she’s not who she thought she was. Tough to write, but rewarding so far. And frustrating, because I don’t have the automatic plot structure of a police investigation to lean on.
I can’t listen to background music or anything when I write. I need quiet so I can hear the words in my head. Other people have a mind’s eye; I have a mind’s ear. Sometimes it honestly feels like I have a small elf perched in my auditory canal, reading out loud to me. I just write the stuff down. Then I read it out loud, playing all the parts and getting as deep into it emotionally as I can. That lets me hear mistakes in the flow and figure out which beats are missing in a scene or a character’s thought process.
I write on my laptop, at my dining-room table, with plenty of light from the east-facing bay window and a cup of strong coffee at my elbow. Gotta have the coffee, with milk and sugar. It’s brain fuel.
You are just too much ;) I love that you can classify your writing into one central theme; I wish I could say the same. In all, I’d say I write about characters; I tell their stories. I too write at a table. I write in my kitchen where there is plenty of overhead and natural light.
What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?
I say it every time, it so good to read what you write. Reading from those you admire in your preferred genre is the best way to master the ability to write it well. These ladies are all great authors and I can see why you like them.
Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?
I must admit that everything I know of Queen Elizabeth I comes from movies, television biographies, and the BBC. My generation of U.S. youth only learns a little about Queen Elizabeth II, but since I enjoy history I try to learn what I can. It’s hard for any woman to rule in anytime, but each story of such a woman deserves to be told.
Who is so you and why?
That’s cool. I wasn’t into that show much, but I enjoyed it whenever I happened upon it. It had and still has a huge following. It’s nice that you relate to such a wonderful and powerful female character on that show. Again, I love your thinking. I do my best to embrace diversity. Differences don’t always have to be bad.
What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?
Reading for fun and education is a win win and the way you do it sounds so lovely. Irish Breakfast tea (with milk and sugar) sounds delicious…I do like my teas.
What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
A Little Princess has always been one of my favorites. The story of Sara Crewe just always seemed more real and appealing than that of Cinderella or any other princess…Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?
Yes I am.
Alright then, here we go.
If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I get so excited when I ask this question and I’m always so pleased when the answer turns out to be a classic. I love classic movies and this is one of the best. I bothers me a little that there are people “out there” calling themselves movie buffs, yet they’ve never seen this film :\
What makes you geek out?
I’m a foodie. I admit it. Next to fiction and history, my favorite thing to read is a cookbook. I love how different flavors work together to make something scrumptious. I made gingerbread cookies for Christmas that had fat bittersweet chocolate chips in them, 70 percent cacao. The dark chocolate balanced perfectly with the tangy-sweet molasses in the gingerbread dough—unexpected and delightful. I throw chocolate chips into pumpkin muffins, too. Both my sons adore those.
This is just too much. You’re a foodie too!...I can still remember the first time, at the age of 25, making a traditional English bread pudding from a recipe book my husband found at a thrift store. It’s the best breading pudding ever. Now I have to try gingerbread cookies with dark chocolate chips.
So what’s testing your patience right now?
I’m building an audiobook recording studio in my house, a second line of work for my at-home editing business, Word Nerd, Inc. With 20-plus years of acting experience and a huge number of accents, it seemed like a logical step. My friend and colleague, Libby Fischer Hellman, started me thinking I could do this professionally when she hired me for the audiobook version of SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE, her excellent thriller partly set in the late 1960s. I also did her latest book, A BITTER VEIL, which takes place in Iran at the time of the 1979 revolution. I’ve just about worked the bugs out of my at-home setup and am learning my way around the recording software; I’ll be ready to launch before long, and I can’t wait.
This has to be the coolest answer I’ve had for this question by far. You just keep on keeping on Renaissance Woman!
When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?
You’re wonderful. I think it’s so great that cheesy songs make you mad. They make me mad too and that’s saying a lot because I’m a music lover. I find something to like and appreciate in just about any genre.
What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?
You are a nut and I think you are wonderful. That’s sounds like it was a blast.
Remind me again how I was lucky enough to meet you?
We haven’t met in person, but I found your blog after you put out the word through a LinkedIn group—Book Marketing Group, I think it was—that you were looking for authors to profile. So I checked it out, and liked what I read. This is a great blog.
Thanks for the compliment on my blog. I’ve met so many great authors. Posting that message has helped me in so many ways and I’m glad to do my small part to spread the word about the great talent and people supplying content to the literary world.
Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?
In five years my historical mystery series—two books so far, set in Chicago just after the Great Fire of 1871—will be published, hopefully by a house that can afford a larger advance. (I love my current publisher, but they’re a small press, and I have two kids to get through college, so…) THIS DARK AND TROUBLED TIME, ditto—and I hope my hard-working agent makes a packet as well. Word Nerd Audio will be a thriving business, starting with the audio version of NO LESS IN BLOOD. My high-school freshman son will be in college (urk!), and my little guy will be in his last year of middle school, both with solid grades and good prospects. My husband will still be getting up early to make me coffee, and my friends who’ve been struggling during these tough past few years will have decent jobs again. Oh, and Hillary Clinton will be President, with Elizabeth Warren as VP.
Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from D. M. Pirrone check out these great links: