With: Joanne Guidoccio
We don’t hear too many happily-ever-after stories about lottery winners. Often, they are portrayed as impulsive people who manage to squander all their money. And then there are the horror stories about long-lost relatives and friends who appear out of nowhere, asking for handouts. So, it’s not too surprising when lottery winners decide to take physical and emotional distance from their previous lives.
Gilda Greco, the protagonist of A Season for Killing Blondes and Too Many Women in the Room, took a different approach. After graciously accepting her $19 million lottery win, she returned to her hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview Gilda gave prior to finding herself in the middle of another murder investigation.
What was the first thing you did when you found out you were a winner?
I couldn’t believe it, so I called the lottery commission and asked them to read the correct numbers over the telephone. I waited three days and then drove to Toronto to pick up my check. I was totally unprepared for the publicity and had to rush home and phone everyone before the evening news.
Did you quit your job right away?
Thankfully, we were in the middle of exams and a week before the end of the semester. I scrambled to get everything done and left as soon as the last report card was submitted. It took me almost two weeks to organize my financial affairs. As soon as everything was in place, I booked a flight to Hawaii and spent the rest of the winter there.
I’ve heard about all your travels. Is it true you actually traveled to Antarctica?
When I found out about the Antarctica 12-day cruise, I couldn’t resist booking. I would have to say it’s my most memorable trip. I have vivid memories of the amazing wildlife, especially the penguins. I would love to return.
You could have settled anywhere. Why did you come back to Sudbury?
My family and close friends still live here. It didn’t make too much sense to put thousands of miles between us. I can still travel, but it’s nice to come home.
From what I hear, you haven’t done too much traveling lately. Why is that?
I’ve visited almost every place on my bucket list. I plan to go to Africa next spring. Right now, I’m working on growing ReCareering.
Tell me about ReCareering.
When I got tired of traveling...I know, I know...I should be grateful and not complain. I needed a new direction and decided to enroll in the Career Development Practitioner program at Conestoga College. I toyed with the idea of counseling young adults and then decided to help another segment of the population—boomers who were struggling with life after retirement.
What about your other business?
It’s hard to keep secrets in this city! Xenia isn’t really my business. I’m a silent (maybe not so silent) partner with Chef David Korba and his wife Susan. Tonight is our rehearsal dinner and I’m running late...
When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.
Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?
“I’m a nobody here,” David said, glancing down at his plate. “And with my credit rating, none of the banks would endorse a loan. I’m screwed.”
“What if I backed you?” I couldn’t believe I was speaking so casually, all the while my heart beat at an alarming rate.
David rubbed a hand over his chin and flashed a grin at me. “Gilda, darling, you’re sweet to offer, but I don’t think you know what’s involved here.”
Susan nodded in agreement.
Were they playing me, I wondered. Since winning nineteen million dollars in Lotto649, I had encountered many sharks who hoped to prey on my easy-going nature. A quick Google search would have revealed my three-year-old lottery win. Old news, but still there on the second and third pages.
“Would one hundred thousand dollars be enough?” I asked. “In case you don’t know, I won a major lottery several years ago.” Since winning, I had received many proposals from across the province and had backed three local ventures. In each case, I had chosen to remain a silent partner.
David’s right hand trembled as he poured himself another glass of wine. Susan’s mouth dropped open, and she gave a little gasp.
“I take it that’s a yes,” I said.
More mild protests followed, and another bottle of wine disappeared. We were all a bit tipsy when we shook on the agreement. And so Xenia was born.
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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 cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
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