Andrea Sisco is a dear friend of mine (and it's her BIRTHDAY!) and therefore I simply cannot give an unbiased review of her first offering to the bibliophiles among us. Besides, she got some slick coverage from big names. Who cares what I think? Instead, I am giving her unlimited space to give her own biased notions about why you will want to buy her book. And if her heroine is remotely as funny and interesting as Andrea is, I’m certain you’ll love her book. Besides, Kirkus and Booklist likes her. Why wouldn’t the rest of us?
So, Andrea, tell us about your book.
My debut novel, A Deadly Habit: A Penelope Santucci Mystery, will be released
Penelope Santucci is a young probation officer in a large metropolitan city. She's married, but separated from her hot-shot attorney husband. She finds his body while trying to "save" her possessions and knows the police will look at her for the murder. She's a bit (does mule give you a picture?) head-strong and compulsive and likes to get things done—her way. She doesn't trust the police to do their job (they want her for the murder) so she's going to solve the crime herself, except she's just not into solving the case by herself. So she enlists the help of the parish priest from her old neighborhood and of course her sister, Germaine (who is a nun) rides shotgun. And that causes some problems with her religious order. She’s due for some serious restrictions in whom she hangs with. It's Pen's wild ride in the search for justice. She wants to stay out of prison. Stripes make her look hippy and all those carbs just add so much unwanted weight. And she has issues with bloating.
But when I think about it, it’s really a book about characters. Most of the characters are a bit "out" there and I love that about them. It was fun developing their personalities.
Father Daniel Kopecky is a parish priest. He's semi-retired (which means he rambles about the parish and occasionally gives communion and helps out as needed). He knew Pen when she was a kid. She would dress as a nun and give her confession (the little drama queen, wanna-be Catholic). He helped her get through life in the "neighborhood." He's a sweet man and wants to help which in Pen's world means he will be joining her on her felonious and wild ride in search of justice. That's a Pen rule. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Sister Germaine is Pen's older sister (and a nun). Ma worked and Germaine took care of Pen when they were children and she's still minding Pen's business… She's the character with the most growth in the book. I like Germaine. She's level-headed, but can have a good time and there's a tiny spark of rebel in her. Hanging around with Pen will help it grow or send her to the asylum.
Marco Silva is Pen’s attorney (he was pressed into servitude by the good Father). He’s Latin and frankly looks like the cover of a Romance novel. Think young Jimmy Smits (I do). He has his hands full with Penelope (the uncooperative client) and literally falls for her (well, it is a fall into a grave and Penelope just happens to be in the grave, lying on top of a casket). He’s not sure how he’s going to survive Pen, but he knows Father Daniel owes him, big time.
I really like Stephanie (the dead guy's former mistress). She's a treat. Not! To say she lacks a sense of humor would be mild. Her severity continues right into her wardrobe and hairstyle. And she pouts. Neither Pen (nor I) can abide pouting.
Pen's mother (known as Ma) is really fun, but may be overlooked a bit. She's never seen on stage and probably never will be because she’s such a tiger off stage. Her appearances are only via phone or answering machine. She's the queen of bad taste, the cruise director of Pen's life. She doesn't like the photo the police have of Pen so she offers the authorities a better one! That’s Ma.
I used to have a friend who wanted to be a nun. She went to the Baptist Church with me all summer. Comments? No, don’t comment on that. She also had a boyfriend that I’m pretty sure she considered marrying. What is it about nuns that are so fascinating, anyway? Maybe the better question is, what on earth made you write about a woman faking nunship? How does a person dream up these things?
I grew up wanting to be a nun and practiced it. The opening scene has flashes from my own life. I used to dress in bed sheets and share my confession with those who would listen. And those that wouldn’t? Well I keep score, just like Pen.
I took my desire to be a nun and said, what if? The opening is in an old confessional in a Catholic church in Northeast Minneapolis (an actual neighborhood in an area that still boasts of various ethnic enclaves) and the scene becomes a who’s on first? (from the old comedy routine.
For me nuns were mysterious. They were, well, I have a difficult time breathing when I even attempt to describe a nun. I graduated from a Catholic girls college (the only protestant in my class probably) and I must confess that I entered the nuns living quarters on more than one occasion, just to look around (I was not stalking, I was lurking and yes, it was probably a felony—thank goodness for statute of limitation. I was shocked that they had televisions, stereos, comfy quilts and well, their apartments looked just like any other home. But I thought they were probably holy and I did hang around long because I just couldn’t think up a reason to be there that would stick if I were caught.
I think I have a fertile imagination and I see the world like a film. And I comment internally and it all goes from there. But nuns are the best. I want to continue to write about them. Besides mysterious, they are the unsung workers of faith. My hat is off to them all (except the one who smacked me across the legs because I had my feet on a table in the commons area in college—her, well I have special dreams about her).
Are you just over the moon seeing your book in print?
I’m so blessed. Honestly, to think that I sold my first book at age 60 and it will be released just after my 62nd birthday. I could cry and scream and jump up and down (oh, I did that already).
I don’t know if I have any Minnesota readers besides present company, but do you have signings or launches to which you’d like to invite people?
My big launch is 7/30 at 7:00 p.m. at Once Upon A Crime bookstore in Minneapolis. It is my favorite independent bookstore and Pat and Gary have honored me by inviting me to sign there. Check out their website at www.onceuponacrimebooks.com They ship and have really great stock and old stuff also.
I’m doing other signings later but feel that radio, newspaper, television, blogs, websites, etc. are really the place to get out the information.
Signings are difficult for me. What if no one came? Well, I’d be embarrassed (but the introvert part of me would say “Yippee”).
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
My friends are coming to my launch and that’s awesome in this day and age where everyone is so busy. My husband who travels the world (and has authored 29 books) will skip business (in this economy) just to support me and be there. My son is traveling from NY (he’s an actor and author) to be there as are several other of my children and my 82 year old mother will be there. She is the reason that I love books, love to write (any talent I have came from her) and guided me in my faith journey. Does it get any better than that? I only wish my father could be there, but I know he knows. God is good and I’m blessed. I’d like to bring my puppy Sophie but it’s probably not a good idea. She would get all the attention and well, it’s all about me this time. Oh, she’s potty trained, but we’re still in the trust but verify mode.
I wrote a book that I wanted to write. I contemplated writing for the faith market, but decided the secular market could use a fun, clean book. There are sinners, of course, but they learn from their mistakes (Pen is a difficult case).
And thank you Jamie! You are the child of my heart!
Oh, and remember to visit me at www.andreasisco.com and for reviews and interviews with your favorite authors and maybe some new ones, visit me at www.armchairinterviews.com
Is this the most boring interview you’ve ever done?
No! But I will tell you about the most boring one I ever did… Actually it wasn’t someone who interviewed me, it was an interview I did when I hosted a television program in Minneapolis. I interviewed authors and some really big ones. One just didn’t get it. No matter how open ended my questions were, she would find a way to answer yes or no. Her pauses were huge and she made me sweat (and like Pen I don’t like to sweat—I don’t even like to glisten). I had to stop the tape and explain that she either answered in sentences or the interview was over. For those of you who are thinking she was terrified, that wasn’t it. She was just a bad interview. She’s become much better over the years. I haven’t interviewed her again as I haven’t recovered from the first one.
Andrea Sisco has had an eclectic career as a probation officer, television host, flight attendant, book reviewer, and adoption activist. The charge that the character of Penelope Santucci is autobiographical is only partially true. It is true, however, that her husband consented to his murder, but only if it took place of the pages of a book. She has kept her promise.
Andrea is the co-founder of www.armchairinterviews.com, a web site that reviews books and interviews authors. A Deadly Habit is her first mystery. She is currently coauthoring a Young Adult Fantasy series. Her website for A Deadly Habit is www.andreasisco.com. Andrea and her husband, Bob Pike reside in
Reviews from two of the big four:
Kirkus Review- in their 6-15-09 issue.
This title will publish in July 2009
A DEADLY HABIT
Author: Sisco, Andrea
Review Date: JUNE 15, 2009
Price (hardback): $$25.95
Publication Date: 7/17/2009 0:00:00
ISBN (hardback): 978-1-59414-795-1
When she finds her husband murdered, a probation officer who's been planning divorce must make other plans.
As she tells Father Daniel Kopecky, the old friend she confesses to even though she isn't Catholic, Penelope Santucci didn't kill her philandering husband Paul Preston, a criminal attorney in both senses of the term. She just stumbled on his corpse after she broke into his house to grab some of her possessions before he could boost them. Father Kopecky is willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, Sgt. Clifford Masters of Minneapolis Homicide somewhat less so. When he shows up at her apartment to ask questions, Pen skedaddles. Sisco's debut is less a mystery than a chase/adventure with both eyes focused like a laser on Stephanie Plum. Pen has a nose for trouble, an overbearing mother, bad luck with the men who flit through her life, self-esteem issues, enough resilience to bounce back from repeated beatings by goons seeking Paul's ill-gotten gains, and a habit of running her mouth, though her irrepressible repartee is mostly PG. Her insouciant lack of self-control takes her from Paul's interment, where his current mistress shoves her into his grave, to a convent, a law office and a judge's chambers, most of which she's entered under false pretenses.
Precious little detection, but the energy level never dips below the red zone. Fans who want something to read during the three months per year that lack a new Janet Evanovich title may have found their fix.
Booklist Review- in their 7-1-09 issue.
This title will publish in July 2009
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof Issue: July 1, 2009
A Deadly Habit. Sisco, Andrea (Author) Jul 2009. 316 p. Five Star, hardcover, $25.95. (9781594147951).
Meet Penelope “Pen” Santucci, 27-year-old Minneapolis probation officer, estranged wife, and murder suspect. When she breaks into her house to get some belongings (because her husband, attorney Paul Preston, changed the locks after they separated), Pen finds Paul’s body and envisions herself, the soon-to-be ex-wife, in a prison jumpsuit. For help, she turns to Father Daniel Kopecky, the neighborhood parish priest to whom she made exaggerated childhood confessions even though she wasn’t Catholic, and to her sister, Germaine, who converted to Catholicism and became a nun. Pen has soon involved these two people of the cloth in various felonies while trying to avoid conviction. Meanwhile, she uncovers mounds of dirt about Paul, including the fact that a sizable number of people wanted him dead. Pen, who seems to be an equally smart-mouthed but less-disciplined version of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, may exasperate some readers with her flightiness; still, the religious angle adds interest, and Sisco’s deft storytelling, slick prose, and well-crafted characters should win a following for this smart and sassy new series. — Michele Leber