Adrienne Giordano - Romantic Suspense and Mystery
Adrienne Giordano is a USA Today bestselling author of over thirty romantic suspense and mystery novels. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her ultimate supporter of a husband, sports-obsessed son and Elliot, a snuggle-happy rescue. Having grown up near the ocean, Adrienne enjoys paddleboarding, a nice float in a kayak and lounging on the beach with a good book. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Into the Fire.
Please give us a short introduction to what Into the Fire is about.
I had so much fun writing this book! The story follows a fearless reporter and an eyewitness as they try to solve a deadly hotel fire. They quickly find that finding the right suspect among many may cost them everything.
What inspired you to write about a socialite and a club reporter who join forces to solve a thirty-year-old cold case?
I love telling readers the story behind Into The Fire. My co-author on this project is my cousin, Mary Jo Briscione. Twenty years my senior, Mary Jo showed me from a very young age that women had powerful voices. She was fiercely independent and outspoken at a time when it wasn’t exactly popular for women to be that way. :) As a kid, I dreamed of living a life like Mary Jo. She traveled, she worked, she was active in the teacher’s union and fought hard for her fellow educators. Her influence taught me to dream beyond the life I knew, and it’s a gift I’ll forever be thankful for.
MJ died five years ago from pancreatic cancer. During her last days, I was sitting with her and she told me she’d always wanted to be a writer (she was an English teacher). I was stunned. She’d been such a big part of my life and we’d talked often about my dream of writing novels, but she’d never shared her own desire to write. She had me go to her nightstand where she kept research on the Dupont Hotel fire in Puerto Rico. She’d always wanted to do a retrospective on the fire and had pages of hand-written notes and copies (microfiche!) of newspaper and magazine articles. She’d never gotten around to finishing the piece and, although she didn’t say it, I sensed she regretted not pursuing her goal of becoming a writer. I told her I couldn’t do the retrospective, but that I’d write a novel about a fictitious hotel fire. I told her I’d use her research and list her as a co-author. She liked that, so we spent time over the next few days roughing out ideas. She wanted the sleuth to be an older woman with a fabulous life. Auntie Mame, she’d said. She also had specific things she wanted included. There was a Secret Service agent who died in the original fire, and she liked the whole Secret Service angle. There was also an entertainer she’d heard about that performed at the hotel, so she wanted an entertainer involved. At the time, I wasn’t sure how I’d make these things work, but I promised her I’d figure it out. Two days later, she passed on.
It took me five years to find the nerve to tackle this project. Emotionally, I wasn’t ready and then late in 2019 I pulled out her giant blue folder with all of her notes and the book poured out of me. It’s not lost on me that the main characters are an older woman and a young reporter who learns from her.
Prior to the book being published, I submitted it to Apple in hopes that they would include it on their Fall 2020 Most Anticipated Books list. A couple of weeks later, I received word that Into The Fire would be on the list. I’m so grateful for that experience. This book has been an amazing journey. It’s topped off by being listed with names like Grisham, Baldacci and Flynn. I have to believe MJ is smiling.
Tell us more about Rose Trudeau. What makes her tick?
Rose is who I want to be when I’m 63. She’s extremely self-aware and knows the power she holds in Hollywood. She’s not afraid to use that power either. She’s running from grief, though. Not just from recently losing her husband, but from burying her pain over her closest friend dying in the hotel fire thirty years earlier. She’s become an expert at pushing through her heartbreak, and I wanted her to deal with that so she could heal.
Why did you pick the island of La Paradisio as a backdrop for your story?
I was trying to stay as close to what Mary Jo wanted in terms of plot, but didn’t want to use an actual island. I wanted the freedom to create my own setting and police department. So, La Paradisio is a fictitious island in the Caribbean.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I don’t know how secret it is, but I discovered on a research trip that I’m a crack shot with a rifle. I can hit a bullseye at 220 yards with a .308 sniper rifle and an M16.
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
Ooh, this is tough! I would say Rose was the most challenging. Given that this was Mary Jo’s dream project, I put a ton of pressure on myself to get the details right. Rose was the first character MJ and I had discussed, and we spent a lot of time on her. Rose challenged me in so many ways. I had to dig deep in terms of her grief, and it was extremely emotional for me. Crying definitely occurred. Those are important moments for me. When I cry, I know I’m fully connected to the character.
How long did it take you to finish this book?
Once I finally started writing, I drafted it in about seven weeks. Then the edits (and more and more edits) came. It took me about six months total from initial draft to the final book.
The book contains some twists and turns. Did you plan it all out before you started writing, or did some of it just “happen” along the way?
Both. That’s the fun part of writing for me. I’m a plotter, so I like to have an idea of where the story is going. Typically, I’ll know what happens in the middle and the end of the book before I start writing. It helps to keep me focused. Along the way, I’ll get an “aha” moment as I’m writing. That’s part of the fun for me.
How do you go about writing your scenes? Readers say they feel like they are right in the middle of the action.
I have a routine before I start writing that helps me focus. I’ll close my eyes for a few minutes and think about the characters, where they are and what they’re feeling. For example, there’s a scene in the book where Rose is meeting her son for dinner at her late husband’s favorite restaurant. In that scene, I imagined being Rose (with all her buried grief) and standing in a place that meant so much to her beloved husband. I tried to tap into what that must have felt like for her. That was a scene that made me cry. She’s really so broken and doesn’t realize it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
There’s a lot! Don’t think so much, trust your instincts, dream big, make more time for fun and be grateful. With age comes wisdom, and I’m constantly learning. We lost my step-daughter in an accident seven years ago and it was an event that changed my world forever. It taught me how tenuous life is and that I should find joy in little things. Even if it’s only a great cup of coffee, I try to recognize that and be grateful. It reminds me not to take things for granted. Oh, and I’d also tell my younger self to moisturize.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what is an average writing day like for you?
I think all writers have their own process for what works and what doesn’t. Typically, I write first thing in the morning after walking my sweet Elliot. He’s a ninety-pound shepherd mix, so it’s a fast-moving walk. The exercise and fresh air give me time to…well…breathe. There’s something about nature that gets ideas flowing for me. If I’m ever stuck on a scene, I put my sneakers on and go for a walk. Works every time. Once I get to my desk in the morning, I usually write for about three or four hours and then I hit a wall. I’ll then move on to the administrative side of my author business. I find I have to write first thing when my brain is fresh.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a romantic thriller. I’m about halfway through the first draft and just had one of those aha moments I mentioned above. I changed my ending and I’m loving the new direction. This is the joy of writing for me. Those little surprises take your story in a new direction.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The best way is via my Facebook author page or my newsletter. I usually send a newsletter out each month (I promise I won’t spam you). I’m also a monthly contributor to the Midnight in the Garden Reader Group, which is an amazing Facebook group. I also occasionally do live-streamed chats on my Facebook page.
Here are my links: