Today I have another favourite author of mine on Mystery Mondays: Stefania Mattana. Stefania is no stranger. Here is a link to my previous interview with her. Welcome back! Please tell my readers what type of crime fiction do you write and why?
I started conceiving my mystery stories as cozy mysteries. The first long length book I published, Into the Killer Sphere, respects the rules of the cozy mystery so I thought also the next one would fall in the cozy mystery genre. However, after I wrapped up Pull the Trigger (the book No2 of the Chase Williams murder mysteries series) I realised it hadn’t much of the cozy mystery. My character and the plot have twisted in a way they can’t be labelled as ‘cozy’. They went down to a thriller road by now, although I can’t still label the novel as a pure thriller.
It’s safe to say that my novels and short stories are detective stories with mystery and suspense.
Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?
One of the very first books I read in my life was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I was intrigued by Jo’s personality, and since I liked writing I decided I wanted to be a journalist and a novelist. My parents regretted the moment they bought me a tapewriter for my 8th birthday, as it was loudy as hell and I never stopped typing! Nevertheless, they never told me to stop–and instead bought me a computer the year after!
They have always encouraged me to pursue my goals, and later in my life my husband did (and does) the same. Ultimately, I have to thank my parents if I became a writer, and my husband if I took the courage to publish my stories.
Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
I got the idea of this detective stories series when I moved in the UK, in 2012. When I sketched the concept, the stories were set in London between 1928 and 1932 and my character was a young british Scotland yard detective. It’s not easy, though, to set stories in a place you never lived in, especially when you have to fish out details of nearly eighty years ago. So I thought of leveraging what I could master: Italy. I placed my (former) British detective in a place he’s learning to know, but that I know very well. This way, I can also create some cultural-related situations around the characters and the plots, as well as unveil to non-Italian readers many unknown aspects of my culture.
Chase Williams was born and raised in London. He comes from a well-known family within the Force: his brother is a RAF pilot and his father is a Scotland Yard Sergeant. Chase was a MET police detective too until he was dismissed for something he doesn’t like to talk about.
Overwhelmed by this situation, and after his girlfriend dumped him for his working partner, Chase moved to Tursenia, Italy, where he now works as an import/export officer for an international cashmere firm. He picked the sunny and small city of Tursenia, in the heart of Italy, because his childhood (and Italian) friend Angelo Alunni lives there. Problem is Angelo is an Inspector himself, and drags Chase into his murder cases every time he can.
Chase is not very lucky with ladies, even if his neighbour and close friend Giulia says it’s only a matter of meeting the right one. Chase likes running, photography and blogging, food, listening to Italians arguing (he says it’s like they’re singing whilst being angry), the Arsenal football team, cats and dogs.
Do you plot the entire novel and know who did it before you start, or can that change?
I normally draft a concept, then develop every scene, so to create a storyboard. I use Ginko App for that. Once all is ready, I start writing around that. I can write something on the go, but I find the process of writing easier when the pillars of the plot are storyboarded.
How violent are your novels?
Chase’s mystery and suspense stories doesn’t have violence, as the original content was meant to fall into the cozy mystery genre.
Moreover, I’d like to think that everyone can enjoy my stories, and since some people find excessive violence disturbing, I just avoid it.
As much as I can, yes. It’s not easy to merge the Italian and the British humour–they’re so different! Readers quite enjoyed the experiment so far. Inspector Alunni in particular can be very amusing!
What song would you pick to go with your book?
I don’t have much time for writing, so every time I crush in my sofa to write, I have to maximise my efforts. To do that, I use white noise or nature sounds, which I find very useful and help me focus.
What are you working on now?
The first draft of the book No3 of the Chase Williams murder mystery stories is almost ready. I haven’t chosen a title yet, but get ready for ‘Murder of a suicidal’–or something like that.
With my friend and translator Chiara Urbani we’re also working on the translation of the first two books of the Chase Williams murder mystery stories. We have translated the 3 volumes of the Chase Williams detective short stories in Italian, and they’re going very well. So we’re pushing for the next translations 🙂
What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality?
I asked the same question to my friends a while ago to filling up my About page. Turns out one of my strongest quality is the determination, whilst the oddest is… my size. In fact, I’m quite a tiny person and although I complain about that, I have to admit that sometimes it comes very useful!
Stefania Mattana is a crime fiction author whose stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications, websites and anthologies. Her first self-published short stories collection Cutting Right To The Chase, featuring the former MET Police Detective Chase Williams, was released in June 2013 to great acclaim. Stef is also very active on open source projects such as WordPress.org. She blogs a lot for Chase, in her own DailyPinner and in other webzines.
(these are landing pages on my site, where all the stores are listed. If you’d like to link only the Amazon books, the links are inside the pages)