About the Author
Staci Troilo grew up knowing family is paramount. She spent time with extended family daily, not just on holidays or weekends. Because of those close knit familial bonds, every day was full of love and laughter, food and fun. Life has taken her one thousand miles away from that extended family, but those ties remain. And so do the traditions, which she now shares with her husband, son, and daughter… even her two dogs. And through her fiction, she shares the importance of relationships with you. Mystery or suspense, romance or mainstream—in her stories, family is paramount.
InterviewMF: Tell us about your novel, Type and Cross. Where did the idea come from?
ST: Type and Cross is a novel about a dysfunctional family and the trials they undergo when a tragedy reveals secrets and unleashes turmoil that threatens to destroy a career, a marriage, and a family. I initially conceived of the story because my husband got erroneous blood test results and my father-in-law was quite upset until the mistake was rectified. I started thinking about the implications of errors in blood types and how those mistakes could impact a person, a family, and a man’s livelihood.
MF: Is there a message in Type and Cross that you want readers to grasp?
ST: If readers come away with nothing else from this story, I’d like them to understand the importance of honesty and consideration in our relationships.
MF: Your first novel, Mystery Ink: Mystery Heir has been called a “must read mystery”. How would you compare the process of writing a mystery to that of a more mainstream novel like Type and Cross?
ST: While there are some similarities in my two novels, there are key differences in the planning and execution of the two. Mystery Heir, although the characters are well-developed, is primarily plot-driven. When you write a mystery, there are certain character types you need to include: a sleuth, a sidekick, a villain, and a red herring. These characters move through the plot elements — misdirection, significance, timing, and the recap/reveal — before the novel ends. (For more information on these elements, you can read my post on them here: http://writershelpingwriters.net/2013/11/mystery-writing-basics-characters-plot/.) For Type and Cross, I had a lot more flexibility. The main consideration was that the characters drove the action, whatever that action happened to be. There were no necessary tropes to adhere to; I just had to tell a story. There are pros and cons to each genre. I enjoyed stretching my writing muscles and delving into mainstream writing because I love exploring the complexities of relationships.
MF: When we first met, you marketed yourself as an author of paranormal novels (among other genres) but you’ve moved away from this genre. Why? Do you still write paranormal?
ST: I do still write in the paranormal genre. In fact, I have a paranormal romance series that I’m working on (I’m finishing edits on book two and have begun the preliminary outline for book three). The first of the four novels will be released in May. So I can’t say that I’ve moved away from that genre; it’s more like I’ve moved into others. There are just so many stories to tell and so many characters to reveal to the world… one genre simply wasn’t enough.
MF: Name two or three authors who have inspired you. Is there a particular author you want to emulate?
ST: This is always such a difficult question for me to answer. The list is SO LONG! In school, it was the classics. I especially related to Faulkner, Dickens, and Fitzgerald. I loved the poetry to their descriptions. But now that’s considered purple prose. People just want to dig in to the meat of the story and imagine whatever they want. And I applaud the ingenuity that takes, so I’m not complaining. Modern day, I’m a Stephen King fan. Despite being the King of Horror, he has crossed successfully into other genres, and his work is always entertaining. I also have to list J.K. Rowling. The world she created was fantastic, not to mention the how wonderful the characters were. They were multi-dimensional while still clearly serving their purposes as hero, sidekick, sage, villain, etc. You don’t need me to tell you that’s quite an accomplishment. As for emulating anyone? No, there’s no one. I want to be my own person and write in my own style. I’d be disappointed if people thought I was just ripping off an established author. I’d love to reach as many readers as any of the authors I’ve listed, but not at the expense of my integrity.
MF: What books have most influenced your life?
ST: Another hard question. How to narrow it down? I guess I’ll give you three, of varying genres. The first time I read S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, I was hooked. I’ve read it so many times I can quote a lot of it. It’s such a tragic story, but there are uplifting messages in it, particularly the importance of family more so than the allure of money, material possessions, and social standing. The Stand by Stephen King was another one that I’ve carried with me. It’s a tale as old as time itself… the battle between good and evil. And Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities reveals both the horrors of war and the power of redemption. In all these stories, I loved the strength of the characters as well as the movement of the plot. These are lessons we should all learn anyway, and I think I’ve dabbled in these themes in my work.
MF: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
ST: Most of the novels I’m writing are parts of series, so I do get to revisit these characters. And I love my characters, so that’s a good thing. I think, regardless of genre, I do stick to one resounding theme: the importance of family. Healthy relationships are crucial to being a happy, healthy person. I like to explore relationships—dysfunctional ones that may or may not weather the storm and strong ones that have longevity and can be the inspiration for others.
MF: What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
ST: Because writers now have to do much of their marketing themselves, I’ve used the Internet more in the last two years than I did in all the years before—combined. The nice thing about the web is that it spans the globe. I’ve “met” people who live in Pittsburgh (that’s my hometown city; I grew up forty minutes away, attended college there, and spent a lot of time there for different educational and entertainment activities) and I’ve befriended people on other continents. It was especially exciting for me to have conversations with a woman in Italy (I’m of Italian descent). I never would have made these friendships if I wasn’t a writer. Come to think of it, Missy, I don’t know that you and I would have met if I wasn’t a writer!
MF: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
ST: The criticism: Two times now I’ve had my work reviewed in critique groups or by beta readers/editors and have been told that, while my first chapters were well-written, they were all backstory that didn’t add to the novel and needed to be cut. It’s frustrating to realize you’ve wasted all that time on something that will never see publication. (One thing I will recommend, though, if this is also your problem… DO NOT throw that information away. You can use it as a marketing tool or a giveaway. NEVER delete anything. Save it all.)
The compliment: When the reviews started coming in for Mystery Heir, I was pretty nervous. Then I read one that said I was the reader’s new favorite author. That one really touched me. There are thousands—millions, maybe—of authors that this person compared me to. To say that I was his or her favorite? It was exhilarating and humbling. People often forget to leave reviews or think they don’t matter. But they do matter. I read every single one I get, and I appreciate every comment—positive or negative—because I like to know what my readers think.
MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
ST: Provided I didn’t have to be a muggle, I think I’d like to be in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I’d love to meet Sirius and Dumbledore, and being able to do magic would be pretty convenient. (I wouldn’t want to stay, though. I’d miss my family and friends too much.)
Start ReadingSome towns aren’t meant to have their curses broken. Naomi and Penelope, the Dotson twins, don’t believe in curses, particularly when they involve entire towns rather than individuals, but apparently most of the residents of Centerville feel otherwise. The latest in a string of what the twins call horrific coincidences is the murder of Joe Harbaugh, town councilman and business paragon. On the heels of his death, a series of break-ins at local establishments occur. The police narrow down their suspect list to one of Harbaugh’s terminated employees, but the sisters aren’t convinced. Together, Naomi and Penelope start their own investigation and get tangled up in a web of lies, kidnapping, and attempted murder. Can the Dotson twins solve the mystery before someone else gets hurt?