Kristi Belcamino - Fierce Women, Dark Mysteries and Riveting Suspense
Agatha, Anthony, Barry, and Macavity Award Finalist Kristi Belcamino writes dark mysteries about fierce women seeking justice. She is a crime fiction writer, cops beat reporter, and Italian mama who also bakes a tasty biscotti. In her former life, as an award-winning crime reporter at newspapers in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and attended barbecues at the morgue. As our Author of the Day, Belcamino tells us all about her Gia Santella Crime Thriller boxset.
Please give us a short introduction to what this boxed set is about.
When we first meet Gia in City of the Dead, she copes with her parents' death by drinking, spending, and kicking ass when it’s necessary. After an unexpected letter reveals that her loved ones’ tragedy was murder, Gia changes her focus to revenge. Vowing to find the one responsible, the grieving daughter must stay one step ahead of a ruthless plot to end her family line. To avoid yet another family death, Gia has a bloody choice to make: kill or be killed.
By book six, Taste of Vengeance, Gia is coming to her own and has set a course for her life to see justice for those who are unable to do so themselves. She is increasingly looked at as a person who people turn to for help. And she is stepping up to the plate and making her life mission to stop evil people from preying on the vulnerable.
Tell us more about Gia Santella. What makes her so special?
Gia Santella is my alter ego, the woman I might have been in a different life.
She's a hedonist and a badass and doesn't give a F what anyone else thinks about her and her lifestyle. She has zero inhibitions and a large lust for life.
But she also has the biggest heart around and would give her life to save someone more vulnerable than she is.
When I began writing Gia, I didn't really know her yet, I just knew that she was a really fun character to write because I never knew what she was going to do next.
As she came to life on the page, loving her vices: drinking, drugs, and sex, I knew one thing for sure--she was about to take me for a wild ride.
Armed with an enormous inheritance, she would selflessly give everything to help someone who was down-and-out.
When we first meet her, in Gia in the City of the Dead, she has recently lost her beloved parents. She hasn't figured out how to deal with her grief in a healthy way so she at times is self-destructive and impetuous in ways that make me cringe and worry about her.
As she says, "I'm never lucky."
But somehow, she manages to survive.
I hope you love her as much as I love writing her.
Loyal as the day is long.
A true hedonist.
Thirsty for justice at all costs.
Why dark mysteries about fierce women seeking justice? What drew you to this theme?
I am naturally drawn to the underbelly of the crime world, as a newspaper reporter covering crime and as a reader and avid film buff so it is natural that I would lean toward writing about the darker, grittier genres of crime fiction. Also, I am the mother of two teenage daughters so I also feel a responsibility to write strong women characters. And as far as seeking justice, it is something I feel strongly about personally—that the powerful should protect the vulnerable and make sure they are not taken advantage of in any way.
You also work as a crime reporter. How do your real life experiences influence your work?
I draw a lot from my days as a full-time reporter covering crime for a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper. I always say that truth is stranger than fiction. You cannot make up the things we reported on covering the crime beat.
Gia is not exactly your typical hero. She has many issues and is driven by revenge. Why did you create her this way?
They say write what you want to read. I like reading characters who are not “nice” girls and who do things that most of us would never consider doing in real life. She’s an anti-hero, but she also is a superhero in the sense that everything she does is focused on helping others.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I can whistle loud enough to silence all the animals and insects in four-block radius.
How do the books in the set tie in with one another? Can they be read as standalones?
They are written to be read as stand alones but reading them in order provides the most emotional punch.
When working on a novel, how do you immerse yourself in the main characters' lives? Do you observe people, or do you try to walk in their shoes?
I think about the characters and my story all the time even when I’m not writing. As Stephen King says, I let the “boys in the basement” (subconscious) do their work when I’m away from the keyboard.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Yes. People are not wholly good or wholly bad and that there are staggering moments of beauty and goodness even in the darkest tragedies when we see how the angels and heroes step forward to help.
Among the wealth of characters in this series, who was the most difficult to create?
Probably one of the antagonists—King. I wanted him to be pure, believable evil without having him appear comical or cartoonish.
Are any of the characters in the book based on real people?
Oddly enough—No. Not in the Gia Santella series. Most of my other books include caricatures of real people.
Do you write full-time? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I consider myself a full-time authorpreneur–an author and entrepreneur. I do that full time. That usually means writing four hours in the morning and then about another six hours of my day doing administrative tasks, such as marketing, social media, etc. I write 3,000 words a day.
What are you working on right now?
I am writing the eighth book in the Gia Santella series schedule to be published on March 12.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My two favorite ways to interact with my readers are my newsletter and my private Facebook group. Hopefully readers will consider joining both.
You can sign up for my newsletter here:
You can join my private Facebook group, Crime, Coffee & Cannoli here: