I'm delighted to welcome, special guest ROCCO, the blogging cat, and his sidekick T.C. "Toni" LoTempio, Author of the Nick and Nora Mystery Series.
Even though she’s never committed murder in real life, Toni has no problem doing it on paper! As T.C. Lotempio she pens the Nick and Nora mystery series for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime, the first of which debuted December 2! Her cat, ROCCO, (the inspiration for the character of Nick) also runs a blog, www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com, which interviews authors each month. They live in beautiful New Jersey, where Toni is hard at work on the next Nick and Nora….and Rocco is hardly working!
Tell us a little about your background
TC: I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, but only with an eye toward publication since 1997. I’ve had a few books published by small press and some I’ve self-published at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In 2008 I landed what I thought was my “dream agent” but actually it ended up being more of a nightmare. Then in 2011 I signed with my current agent, Josh Getzler, who really is a dream! We were subbing a paranormal suspense when I got the idea for the Nick and Nora mysteries. Josh sold it to Penguin in January of 2013, and it will be out in December of this year. I also write articles for a pulp magazine for collectors of antique children’s literature, Susabella Passengers and Friends.
ROCCO: I, of course, with the human’s help (it’s tough typing with paws) developed the idea for my blog, catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com, in January of 2011. Janet Evanovich was the first author we interviewed and it’s taken off from there with such notables as Carole Nelson Douglas, Brenda Novak, Michelle Rowen and Sheila Webster Boneham! And, of course, I’ve provided the inspiration for the character of Nick in the human’s mystery series.
For TC: Tell us about your pets, or other animals that inspire you
TC: Well, ROCCO, of course. He’d sit on me if I didn’t mention him first. He’s a handsome tuxedo cat with what I can only describe as “cattitude.” He was definitely the inspiration for the tuxedo cat Nick in the Nick and Nora mysteries, although his spelling is a tad rusty, unlike Nick’s.
TC: It’s about a woman, Nora Charles, who returns to her hometown of Cruz, California, after a twelve-year absence to take over her deceased mother’s sandwich shop. Nora was an ex-true crime reporter but several incidents in her life made her ready for a change to a quieter life. In the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, she’s “adopted” by a tuxedo cat who appears on her doorstep one night. She’s researching an article for an online crime magazine and suspects it’s not an accident as originally reported, and the cat seems to agree with her. The cat, whom she names Nick, fuels this by spelling out clues with his favorite toy, Scrabble tiles.
ROCCO: Even though Nora does the legwork, Nick is really the brains. After all, it is the NICK and Nora mystery series!
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
TC: A little of both, actually. I work from an outline but it’s not detailed and the finished book usually looks nothing like my outline LOL. I let the characters do the talking!
ROCCO: And me, of course. I have been known to be very inspirational to the human.
TC: Yes, especially when you want to play “fetch” right when I’m writing a crucial scene.
ROCCO: Hey, no one’s purr-fect!
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
TC: Right now I’m working on another Nick and Nora, and the first book in a new cozy series (that features a cat, of course)
ROCCO: And I, of course, work on my interviews and getting authors for the blog. It’s a big job, as I’m sure you understand.
TC: Well, I have a day job so I work from 6 a.m to three, then I come home, fire up the computer and write at least 2-3 nights a week for a few hours on my books. I also spend at least four hours on Saturdays and Sundays. When I’m near the end of a book I put in at least two hours every weekday and six hours on the weekends. (Each day).
ROCCO: Nothing about a cat’s day is typical. Not one thing.
If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
TC: Wow! That’s a tough one. There are so many – hard to just pick three! Probably the latest ones by three of my favorite mystery authors.
ROCCO: Any of the CAT WHO mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun. A book with “CAT” in the title has to be worth reading!
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
TC: Never give up, keep reading, keep writing about what you love, and keep submitting. If it’s meant to be, it will happen!
ROCCO: Adopt a tuxedo cat or kitten at your local shelter! We are extremely inspirational beings!
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
TC: ROCCO’s blog, www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com has all the latest news, and interested readers can also visit my website: www.tclotempio.com
Or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We love hearing from fans!