It’s always a thrill to welcome a debut novelist like Kaia Misk to my blog! Below are Kaia’s responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio and buy/contact links.
First off, congratulations on the release of your debut novel, THE FIRSTBORN SON, the first in your Renzi Affairs Series. Can you tell our readers about the book and what inspired it?
Here are a few words about The Firstborn Son: Becoming a ruthless mob boss like his father is the last thing Frankie Renzi wants, but when Sofia Ciambetti’s father is gunned down, Frankie must become the very thing he loathes to protect the woman he loves. Sofia was devoted to Frankie, until he stood her up and she questioned his fidelity. Now that she’s alone and an heiress, mafia suitors slither around her. Marriage to him might be her only hope.
Much of the book was inspired by colorful family members and friends who I always thought would be great fictional characters. My Uncle Nutsy is one example and he is often a favorite in the book
You have an extensive background in legal and technical writing. In developing your skills as a fiction writer, have you found that your technical writing experience has been helpful?
Both legal and technical writing make it easier to catch certain types of grammatical errors when self-editing. For example, making sure your verb matches your subject and not an object of a preposition. I also worked with professional proofreaders at one of my jobs. They taught me a lot about grammar.
A related question: Obviously, writing fiction is quite different from technical writing. What steps did you take to develop your skills as a novelist?
My first attempt at creative writing was poor. I used it in a review group on Goodreads and learned a lot from someone who took the time to explain her review. I tried again and a publisher gave me constructive feedback with suggestions on books for writers. I followed her recommendations. The Firstborn Son was accepted by a small press soon after.
What’s a typical writing day for you like?
No day is the same for me, but I often write a scene at a time. I might write scenes that are not consecutive. When I have enough time, I try to go somewhere outside the home to get away from common distractions. Then, I can write as many words as possible and weed out what doesn’t work at a later time.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you consider yourself a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?
I’m a little of both. I have a basic concept of the romance novel and can define certain turning points in the book when I begin. However, as I develop scenes and chapters, I often make changes to the way a character reacts to something. That takes me in a new direction and all of a sudden I’m a pantser!
Are there writers whose works particularly inspire you?
I’m a big fan of Karen Rose. I love her Hat Squad books and the level of suspense. However, Joe Lansdale has written some laugh-out-loud characters. David Rosenfelt has a great blend of mystery and comedy. Tami Hoag’s Novak and Liska series has great banter. I wish I could list every little thing that inspires me in writing. Sometimes I come across a phrase from an indie author and I marvel at the perfect word combination. Inspiration is everywhere.
What’s next for you writing-wise?
I am working on The Second Son, which is Joey Renzi’s story. He’s the smart but goofy brother with the business sense to survive without the family. During a legitimate business deal, he and his attorney stumble across a financial crime that implicates the Renzis. I also started Tiny’s book. He’s the strong, silent one who has been like a third brother to Frankie and Joey Renzi.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I have a Norwegian Elkhound who demands my attention. I’m training him for the Canine Good Citizen certification test. I have a large family who has coffee every Saturday morning. I’m close with my nieces and nephews and keep in touch with cousins as well. I’m taking part in Project Linus this year which is a charity that makes and brings blankets to individuals in need.
Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?
I’m producing my own audiobook for The Firstborn Son. My brother used to record music professionals and is helping me with the process. An example is Uncle Nutsy’s accent in this audio clip on my YouTube channel: Nutsy Words – YouTube
I hope to get my book into libraries, beginning with the Carnegie Library system in Allegheny County, where I live. I belong to an author group called Sisters in Crime. I learn about criminal investigation procedures through their classes. My goal is to do a mystery/suspense series about a new character I’m introducing in The Second Son.
Kaia Misk is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, otherwise known as a “Yinzer.” Her parents grew up across the street from each other in a small town where most people worked in the steel mills. Their Italian and Slovak families were a strong part of her childhood, which included foods, holidays, and religion. Several of her characters are based on her family members and other Pittsburghers.
Kaia has a background in legal and technical writing including training manuals, training presentations and legal documents. She is also an excellent tailor and patternmaker, although she spent many years as a legal secretary and paralegal.
She currently lives in suburban Pittsburgh with her Norwegian Elkhound, Boss.
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-firstborn-son-kaia-misk/1142840680