Sunday, May 22, 2016

Interview with Connie Di Marco

Where did you get the idea for this book? How did you know that was the book you wanted to write?
I wanted to create a protagonist with an unusual occupation and astrology seemed to fit.  I also lived in San Francisco for many years and loved it, and felt it was a perfect city in which to set a mystery.  Julia, my protagonist, never thought that murder would be part of her practice, but the universe has other ideas and her clients and their problems are constantly leading her into danger.  

What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of your novels? 

It’s been an amazing experience, mostly because I never set out to be a “writer.”  My goal was to write one mystery and hopefully be published.  I knew absolutely nothing about the business of writing or the business of publishing. The most wonderful part of all this is realizing that I do have some good stories to tell and readers have really enjoyed my books.  That, and making lots of friends in the mystery community.  

What was the last mystery novel you read, other than your own, that you loved? Why did you love it?

I just finished re-reading Faithful Place.  I had read it first a few years ago and was completely awed by it.  The author, Tana French, won an Edgar award for that book, and it was certainly well-deserved.  Everything about the story, the setting, the culture, the time period, her protagonist’s voice was compelling.  The story just kept drawing me in deeper and the final reveal was both elegantly simple and chilling.  It took my breath away.  

If your protagonist were actually a real person, would you be friends with them? Why or why not?

Yes, I think I would definitely be friends with Julia.  We’d probably be in agreement in a lot of areas.  Besides, even though she tries her best to live a peaceful life, it doesn’t seem to work out.  Her life is certainly a lot more exciting and dangerous than mine, it would be a big adventure for me.

What did you do to research the book?

The Zodiac Mysteries are traditional mysteries, but this story, The Madness of Mercury, was really inspired by the Jim Jones years in San Francisco.  I was living there at the time and frankly, a Southern preacher with a church on Fillmore Street called the People’s Temple just wasn’t on my radar -- until the shootings and poisonings in Guyana that shocked the world.  In Madness a similar type of preacher comes to town with the same sort of promises, but his true intent is just as dark and deadly.  I wanted to refresh my memory of Jones’s history in the city and I found myself shocked all over again.  I never realized how much power he had achieved in such a short time.  Politicians and society people were conned, including Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk, both of course later shooting victims themselves.  His believers turned over their life savings and property to him, and followed him blindly even as he descended into madness.  I’ve always been baffled by the whole phenomenon of people who need to be led, who would abdicate their autonomy to anyone, much less a man who claims to be of God.  Cults and the people who create them are extremely disturbing and frightening.  When Julia realizes that she has become a target of the preacher, her life is turned upside down, and at her lowest point, she determines to rescue one elderly victim of the mad preacher.  Julia’s efforts expose the cult’s true intent and upset the whole balance of power.  That’s not the end of the story though because Julia discovers finds another sort of evil that hits even closer to home. 

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May 22 – Mystery Playground – Interview
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June 2 – Brooke Blogs – Spotlight


  1. Dear Mystery Playground -- Thanks so much for your interview and for hosting my stop today!

  2. Great pictures of the city.

    Hi Connie, this is sounding more and more thrilling. (Still) looking forward to it ;-).

    1. Hi Sally - it's really interesting to hear different takes on this, when it's your own book it's hard to have a perspective on it. Glad you could stop by today!

  3. Hi there, Connie! On tour again, I see. Keeping busy! Best of luck with the tour and here's hoping it helps propel THE MADNESS OF MERCURY to lots of readers and sales. I'll trying to follow the tour as often as I can. :-)

    1. Hi Michael - great to see you here and thanks for visiting today! Yes, this tour is keeping me busy. Good luck with Mac and his adventures too!

  4. Any book with a cat on the cover has my attention! Sounds like a good read.

    1. Hi Kim - thanks for stopping by! There's a little backstory about this cat. Julia has a very big (20 lb.) black cat, but the artist was afraid a black cat would be hard to visualize on the cover, so her cat was converted to a black and white cat. But that's okay because in the book, Wizard is completely black, like a much beloved cat of mine who's no longer with us, but honored in this series! Best of luck, Kim!