First of all, I was totally smitten by the cover, the premise, the title, and the author’s charming on-line personality (follow her on Twitter, she’s a hoot!), even before I read the book. I pre-ordered the The Witch of Little Italy, even though I haven’t pre-ordered anything since the last Harry Potter came out, and we all know that was a while ago! I breathed through the pages as soon as the book came in, told everyone who would listen about this beautiful story of vintage nightgowns, delicious smelling herbs and charming characters, when Suzanne agreed to answer a few of my questions for this very interview. I’m here to share the love! Enjoy!
1. Do you actually cook all the scrumptious meals you mentioned in your book?
YES! I do. I was taught to cook by my Grandmother. And my Great Aunts. And in the next book out from Saint Martin’s Press in May 2014? I get to explore the food from the deep south. Food my “Daddy” taught me to cook. I love the kitchen!
2. Which of the characters do you identify the most with?
Mama. Margaret Green. I think I aspire to be her….
3. Are any of the characters in the book drawn from your own family members?
Mimi is a lot like my Gram. But more open. The aunts are a conglomeration of all my Great Aunts who helped raise me. My mother looks just like Carmen. But is NOT Carmen! I thought of my own daughter when I was writing Elly. She’s not in the same predicament… but she reminded me a lot of her. And Cooper? That’s my maiden name. Because I was so terrible to myself when I was young.
4. When you started writing the book, did you know how it will end? Did you have “the day the Amores died” pictured perfectly in your mind when you first mentioned it?
SO AMAZING YOU ASKED THIS! As if you already knew it! That was the FIRST scene I wrote. And it was not edited much. So the rest of the story was about telling that story!
5. Can you discuss any of the “deleted scenes” that appeared in your original draft, but are no longer there?
Actually? It was the opposite. My agent and I deleted darker themes, Like ZELDA and when we submitted it to editors, my amazing editor at Saint Martin’s press thought there was something missing. And we all knew just what that was! So we added back the darker elements and voila!
6. Who was the first person to read your book?
My daughter. 17 at the time. Rosy.
7. How did you celebrate getting an agent? Signing with St. Martin’s?
9. Did you have to do any research for your story?
SO MUCH. Friends of Old Far Rockaway was great to me. As was OLD BRONX (Facebook) I wanted to be there, inside. So I made sure I felt it.
10. What is your next project?
Writing as Suzanne Hayes I have a book coming out May 28th 2013 co-authored with Loretta Nyhan. I’ll Be Seeing You(Mira Books). In May of 2014 THE WITCH OF MAGNOLIA CREEK (as stand alone but with many elements and names that fans of The Witch of little Italy will understand!) comes out from Saint Martin’s. It’s a southern gothic magical murder mystery… say THAT 10 times! And in June of 2014 my second novel with Loretta will be released from MIRA. FINDING KINGSTON. Two sisters on a journey… a lovely book.