With: Joanne Guidoccio
Visiting Author: “You’ve got an interesting storyline here. And I like how you’ve developed the female characters. But…
Me: Spill it. I can take it.
Visiting Author: Most of the characters are over fifty. You need to bring in a couple of young’uns. Create a sub-plot with the protagonist’s niece. Why not introduce a hot young’un as the love interest. Cougar protagonists sell books.
Me: What do you mean by young’uns?
Visiting Author: Characters in their twenties and early thirties. That’s what selling now.
Since then, I have encountered different versions of this conversation whenever I participate in writing workshops and seminars. Several instructors urged me to downplay the “boomer” elements in my books.
“Don’t mention anything about age in your query letter.”
“It’s okay to have an older woman as a sleuth. She’ll be invisible and that works well for sleuths. But make sure you surround her with younger characters.”
“Stay away from retirement homes, senior homes, and nursing homes. Don’t dwell on all that negative stuff. Too depressing.”
Thankfully, the writers and producers of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet, The Intouchables, A Walk in The Woods, The Intern, and Downtown Abbey did not consider such misguided advice. I can’t even imagine creating younger characters to replace Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Robert Redford, or Robert DeNiro in any of their outstanding roles.
I decided to ignore this “expert” advice and continued using boomers and their older siblings as protagonists in my novels and short stories. My determination paid off. In the fall of 2014, editor Johanna Melargno of the Wild Rose Press offered me a contract for A Season for Killing Blondes.
Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.
When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.
As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.
Carlo had removed his suit jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his light blue dress shirt. His tie lay on the desk. The rumpled look suited him to a tee. And his large black-rimmed glasses accentuated those unforgettable blue eyes. Bluer than blue. Sky blue. Cornflower blue. Robin’s egg blue. Years ago, Adele Martino and I had come up with thirty-seven descriptions of Carlo Fantin’s eyes when Mrs. Gillespie assigned one of her Monday morning English composition exercises. As I tried to recall the other thirty-three, I realized that Carlo was speaking to me.
“…he’ll be taking notes as well.”
Darn! Another officer in the room, and I had missed his name and more importantly, his title. Was he a detective or a constable? I’m sure Sofia would know. In the meantime, I better stop daydreaming and start listening. I nodded in the direction of the beefy officer. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Expertly trimmed moustache. A big bear of a man who reminded me of Magnum P.I.
Carlo cleared his throat. He was ready to get down to business. Police business. “It appears that Carrie Ann was your first client. You haven’t opened this office for business yet. How did that happen?”
My heart raced as I spoke. “After Sofia and my mother left…I’m not certain about the time…um…I…I heard a knock at the front window. I looked up and saw Carrie Ann. Hadn’t seen her in ages.” I paused and then added, “Still wearing the same pageboy hair style and
that blonde color—”
Carlo waved his hand. “Stick to the facts, please.”
I felt myself reddening as those piercing blue eyes bored right through me.
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In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find Joanne...Website: http://joanneguidoccio.com/