Lo Monaco - a PI With a Black Belt in Taekwondo and a Ceaseless Determination
Lo Monaco lived in Sicily, Italy for 16 years and recently returned to California. She was trained as an operatic soprano, and has worked for numerous Opera Companies in America. In order to pay for the years of vocal study, she worked for five years as a Fingerprint Technician for a sheriff's department and five years as a Group Counselor for juvenile offenders. She started writing fiction in November, 1998. She started her first Terry Strong, P.I., novel, "Lethal Relations," in January, 2013. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about this book.
Please give us a short introduction to what Lethal Relations is about.
Discovering who really killed Fred Greene.
Tell us more about Terry Strong. What makes her tick?
She’s savvy, determined to do a good job and she loves solving puzzles.
What inspired you to write about someone who is accused of her boyfriend's murder?
I don’t really remember what the original thought was, but I think that the story is less about someone killing her boyfriend than it is about how there can be incipient evil in the people closest to us.
Relationships are a central theme in this book. Why did you take this approach?
Some relationships are more toxic than others even though on the surface they seem healthy.
The book contains a couple of twists. Did you plan them all out before you started writing?
Not really. I did make a timeline, but it was always susceptible to change. Mostly I followed the general plan, but as I got into the story, events just seem to occur all by themselves.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I studied voice as a soprano for many years and sang in many operas in the US and in Italy. I currently belong to a group here. We perform four concerts a year. I also love crocheting and knitting and make afghans and blankets for all my children and grandchildren. They’ve gotten to the point where they say they don’t need any more, thank you. Lol.
What's an aspect of being a writer that you didn't know about going in?
The sheer torment of being blocked and afraid that I’ll never think of another plot. Or having an idea and not being able to work out why the killer killed and why the victim died.
Are there any books or writers that have influenced your work?
T. Jefferson Parker is my favorite author, although I don’t think I write in the same style. Of course, Sue Grafton, with Kinsey Millhone as a private investigator has obviously encouraged me.
If you could have lunch with any author, who would it be and what would you eat?
I’d like to have lunch with T. Jefferson Parker, but I probably would be too star struck to eat anything. I once met him at a writers’ conference and was absolutely tongue-tied. I had been bitten by the groupie bug. Lol. I also met Michael Connelly and Robert Crais. I really like Crais’s Joe Pike and Elvis Cole novels. And who doesn’t like Connelly’s Harry Bosch?
Among the wealth of characters in Lethal Relations who was the most difficult to create?
The attorney, Donald Remick.
You write about some heavy themes—things that many of your readers have probably never experienced—yet it's very easy to identify with your characters. How do you make them so relatable?
I try to put myself inside each character, to experience what that character is experiencing. I also draw on my own experiences and people I’ve met in life.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I usually try to write in the evening when it’s quieter. I prefer to write in silence, no music or other sounds to distract me.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently puzzling out the plot of a new book that I provisionally call “Fallen in a Dark Uneasy Way.” Terry tries to discover if a priest was murdered or committed suicide. I have also completed a third Terry novel: “Suddenly Deadly,” which is currently seeking a home.