Friday, August 7, 2009

Author Interview with ANDREA SISCO

Andrea Sisco is a woman of many talents and boundless generosity. Past careers include being a model, a flight attendant, a probation officer, a television host, a movie actor, and a mother. She's hit her stride as a mystery author, as the terrific reviews her debut novel, A Deadly Habit, will attest to. Andrea and her husband live in Minnesota and Arizona--when they're not off travelling in exciting locales.


Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

My mother, Shirley Christensen, influenced me greatly. She and my father, Chris, read to me every night from the time I was a baby. My mother would take me to the local "dime store" and give me a dollar (yes, a dollar) and I would choose one Nancy Drew book. Occasionally she would give me two dollars and I would be so excited. She made reading exciting and interesting and I'll be forever grateful to her. She's 83 years young this year and continues to read several books a week.

The main character in your mystery novel, A Deadly Habit, enlists an elderly priest and young nun into her search for a murder. The premise, and opening chapter of your book, is hilarious. Are you Catholic? How did you ever come up with this idea?

I'm not Roman Catholic, but many of my family members are. I grew up fascinated with the beauty, the ritual, the mystery of the church. I wanted to be a nun (it was more about the perceived drama than faith), dressed in bed sheets, and practiced confession with everyone who would listen to me.

I took the basic idea of opening a novel in a confessional and gave it a twist of the famous "who's on first" comedy skit. I think it worked well and set the stage for all of the antics to come.

My secret: A variation of portions of the opening chapter is from my life. There, it's out!

In addition to writing mysteries, you write books for younger readers with a partner. Tell us about that.

Kathleen Baldwin is a talented writer of romantic comedies (Kensington) and she is one of my best friends. She lives in Dallas and we chat via phone a lot. We were bemoaning the demise (in our opinion) of Young Adult and Middle Reader books. We feel they are becoming coarse, inappropriate, and promoting things that are unhealthy for kids. She suggested I write a series at the same time I told her she should write a series. We laughed, met for two days in Dallas, and plotted a book. It's taken some twists and turns and a long time to write because we'd never written with a partner before. It's almost done and we're currently shopping it around.

Tell us about the challenges and benefits of writing in two distinctly separate genres.

I don't think there are any challenges. I enjoy mystery and fantasy and read them both so I "get" it. I also am in love with good Young Adult and Middle Reader literature and want to cry over some of the horrible stuff that is being published for kids. It's my way of trying to contribute something exciting and good.

The benefits are that I simply get to write in the genres I love to read. With the fantasy series, I get to work with one of the most talented writers I know. Kathleen is also one of the nicest, most encouraging friends anyone could have. I love her like a sister. She gives me the opportunity to let my imagination go crazy and then she puts the meat on the bones of the story. Her word choices are stunning!

Tell us about A Deadly Habit and where we can buy it.

A Deadly Habit is a quirky and humorous cozy mystery. Penelope Santucci is a Minneapolis probation officer accused of murdering her estranged husband. She's a bit obsessive and controlling, so her idea of justice becomes a wild and dangerous ride involving a nun and priest on her felonious journey to clear her name.

There are nuns, wanna-be nuns, priests, quirky mothers, crooked judges, cops, crazy sisters, hunky lawyers and really bad guys with itchy trigger fingers who are after a lot of stolen money that just happens to be in Penelope's possession. Everybody is thrown together in Pen's world, which operates on her skewed vision of right and wrong. I think A Deadly Habit: A Penelope Santucci Mystery is a fun ride into murder and mayhem.

If your local bookstore doesn't have it in stock, ask them to order it. I love independent bookstores so I always encourage that avenue… A Deadly Habit can also be purchased through Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as other online venues. (Note: They have the wrong cover currently listed on Amazon and B&N). The old cover is unappealing and scary! The new cover (we fought hard for it) is fun and quirky.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I'm working on the second in the Penelope Santucci Mystery series. I took off some time to be really ill (I had a brush with death) and to welcome three new grandchildren into the world and to potty train my Shih Tzu puppy, Sophie. I think Sophie will make an appearance in Pen's world and my money is on Sophie!

I was a probation officer for almost twenty years and, in the second book, a composite of several clients appear. Oh, and there will be guns in the next book (I target shoot so it's only natural). But Father Daniel, Sister Germaine, and the hunky Marco Silva will also return. Who knows, there may be a little "like" going on between Pen and Marco. That is, if they don't kill each other first.

Frankly, I don't think Pen will be falling into any more graves or swimming pools while running from a burglary in the next book. Knowing her, there will be other outrageous happenings. She's a bit "over the top."

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

There is no single tip. I have too much to say because I want writers to succeed.

Write. Sit down and write. It will not get done if you don't write. Write what you want to write and what you enjoy. Don't write to the market because by the time you finish the book, the next big thing will be on the horizon.

Believe in yourself. We often (I'm speaking to the women out there) don't believe in ourselves. Honestly, I never thought I would get a book published. If I can do it, anyone can. Oh, and find a good critique group. You can do that if you join a local writer's group. Talk to others (interview them,) notice what's going on around you, take notes.

I have items in A Deadly Habit that started with an overheard conversation in an airport. My friends and family sometimes get nervous around me. They wonder if what they say and do will end up in a book. You know, it just might…

What writer's organizations claim you as a member?

Midwest Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and I'm renewing my membership in Sisters in Crime (that's a long story and took place when I was ill).

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

The launch will be on July 30, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at Once Upon A Crime Mystery Bookstore, 604 W. 26th St. Minneapolis, MN (E. of Lyndale). Their phone number is 612-870-3785. Then I am having a reading/signing for our large neighborhood area (time/date TBA). I have numerous private signings/readings with book clubs set up. There are several other bookstores and library appearances also. But the newspaper, magazine, radio, website, blogs are really picking up and too numerous to mention. Google my name and the book title. Reviews are beginning to show up.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

I love writing and thank my husband, Bob Pike, for making sure I had the opportunity to see that dream come true. Connie Anderson (my partner at and best friend) was there at the beginning and always encouraged me. A Deadly Habit is dedicated to her. My mother loves me, my siblings pat me on the back, and I have the best friends in the world. They are all so supportive. I only wish my dad could see the publication of A Deadly Habit. He would beam his joy from ear to ear. I'd like to think he's smiling down at me. And I thank God for everything.

Thank you, Linda, for this wonderful opportunity. Thanks, also, to mystery readers everywhere; we write mysteries because we love the genre. But we also write them to give you a rollicking good time. Without you, our writing would just be scribbles on the page to entertain ourselves. You make the difference. You give us the pleasure of your company.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s): for information about A Deadly Habit and the escapades of Penelope Santucci. (for book reviews and author interviews)


  1. Great interview. Thanks. I'm going to have to check out the book.

  2. Nice interview. I always like to know about the author's thoughts and background.

  3. I enjoyed the interview and will definitly look for the book. Thanks so much

  4. Congratulations on the book. I love the premise and title!

  5. I can't wait to get my hands on this book!!