Our interview today is with Diana Layne author of several books including The Good Daughter (4.8 stars, 18 reviews) which is a Romantic Times nominee for best indie/self-pub contemporary romance of 2012. . Before we get to the interview a brief book description: Most good daughters would say they owe their fathers everything. Marisa Peruzzo, Mafia princess, would. She owed him for killing her fiancé. She owed him for destroying her mother. She owed him for chaining her to the ‘family business’. And she owed him for taking away her lifelong friend. .. Payback’s a bitch. …Read more on Amazon.
Author interview with Diana Layne
1. Was there a basis for your story? A previous experience? Something else?
Originally, THE GOOD DAUGHTER (Vista Security prequel) was a love story inspired by a soccer player. Soccer and a love story, you say? Ick, right? No, hang on, there’s a reason-I promise! At the time I was a huge soccer fanatic. I played on an adult team and coached 3 youth soccer teams. And then I discovered him. THE Italian soccer player. Where have you been all my life, dear, hot Italian? Pure poetry in motion. Clichéd but true. Really. But then, betrayal, he missed a goal that ended up sending his team home in defeat. I was crushed. How could he? It ruined the perfect little love story I’d created for him and a fictional world-famous female soccer player.
I was lamenting to a writer friend, in the middle of a real whine-fest when she said, “The mob made him do it.” She knows how to stop the pity party. I said, “Huh?” And when she repeated, I realized she was talking about my story rather than real life. (I love how writer friends treat my characters as if they’re real.)
After that, the story took off. But lest you think this is a story of the soccer hero and heroine, ultimately they became a subplot. The main plot became the mafia daughter who is trying to escape the mafia life; her struggle was so intriguing, I could not ignore her.
2. What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think he or she is trying to get across to the reader?
The theme of this story is justice. And could be stated in: Justice is in the eye of the beholder. And for a while I even named the story Eye of the Beholder.
When I realized the theme, I realized I had to shift the focus of the story to Marisa, the “good daughter”. Yes, the four main characters all had a reason to pursue justice, but the mob daughter had the most at stake. It was a tough call, honestly, because all four face life-and-death decisions.
3. Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
It was tough, tough, tough writing about the mob daughter and all she went through. And while she had somewhat developed a sense of honor in spite of the messed-up life she’d had (or because of it?), even her sense of right and wrong is skewed as she vows to bring down her family. No matter what. Which means she was willing to go to any length to bring them down. Legal or not. Which makes her world shades of gray instead of black-and-white. She’s pursuing justice for all the right reasons, but is her vendetta worth the cost? It was quite hard to make her sympathetic as she pursued her idea of justice, and I went through a lot of philosophical debates with myself…and the other characters, too.
4. What research did you have to perform to back up your story? Any research which really opened your eyes or gave you new respect for a topic or profession?
Lots of reading. Back in the 90s when I first wrote the story, there wasn’t much information on mafia. (Yes, I pulled it out and took it apart, updated and rewrote-I even wrote a couple of blog posts with for The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood on how I ripped and revised.) Back to the mafia though-as I said, there wasn’t much information on them back then. Mobsters were really big on that whole you-blab-you-die thing. But I scrounged up as many books as I could. When Sammy Gravano squealed and wrote his book, that was very helpful. The Sopranos were not on HBO yet (not that I got HBO anyway). I read The Godfather but couldn’t watch the movie because blood and gore turns my stomach (I can read it but not watch it, go figure.)
I also found an Italian soccer loop, one of the first things I did when we got Internet, lol, and emailed with a few Italians. (No, I don’t speak Italian without my trusty computer translator, but they spoke English. And I did find a very sweet Italian willing to do translations for me for the book.)
Years later, when I started entering contests with the story, one judge mentioned it seemed a lot like The Sopranos (of which I had still not seen). It didn’t surprise me though, because I happened to catch an interview with The Sopranos’ writers and learned they’d used the same books I’d used to research. Ha!
Bottom line, I think reading works well for research.
5. Your bio indicates you have won writing awards. Is this book one of them?
Yes. Under the name of Eye of the Beholder and Vendetta it won and placed in many RWA contests. You can check out the awards page on my website.
6. Are you working on anything now?
Several things! For THE GOOD DAUGHTER fans, I’m working on Sandro and Nia’s love story which tells how they first met. I am hoping RED HOT ITALIAN will be available by Christmas. For THE GOOD DAUGHTER (Vista Security prequel) and TRUST NO ONE (Vista Security Book 1) fans, I’m working on the next book in the Vista Security series in which Dave and Marisa will reunite along with Tasha and Matt as they travel to Russia to break Tasha’s brother out of prison. AND! Shifting from my romantic suspense to my historical romance, word is that PIRATE’S PROPOSAL, my swashbuckling pirate romance from The Wild Rose Press, will be available in audio and I have the treasure-hunt adventure sequel plotted and ready to write!
Get your copy of The Good Daughter on Amazon