An Interview with Kristi Belcamino

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP by Kristi Belcamino is the third Gabriella Giovanni mystery. It is a story dealing with betrayal, manipulation, cover-up, and obsession. It has a gripping plot and believable characters. Although many social issues are discussed it is done through a riveting action packed story. Gabriella finds a horrific crime scene with only one survivor, a baby girl covered in the blood of her family members. The intensity begins with the very first page and does not let up.

Elise Cooper:  A large part of this book is how Gabriella handles her miscarriage. Did you know someone who went through this emotional experience?
Kristi Belcamino: I attributed this quote to Gabriella, ‘The life inside me may have been too small to see with the naked eye and yet I’d already seen that child’s lifespan from birth to death in my hopes and dreams for her.  And when that vision was ripped out of my arms, my world dimmed.  And those shadows cling to me.’ It came out of my own personal experiences of having miscarriages. I remember having that feeling and those thoughts. When it first happened to me I felt I was the only person in the world it happened to. I hope others understand miscarriages should not be a secret and should be talked about.
EC:  You also discuss a lot about people in the military.  Why?
KB:  Several of my family members are active duty.  I worry about them and the support they are getting.  I  I hope to show the effects they are experiencing since I am not sure people are aware of it.  I want to encourage more awareness.

EC: Where did you get the idea for the story?

KB: The inspiration for the story was from an article I read. A New York police officer found this whole family dead except for this baby. She kept in touch and eventually adopted the child. I decided to base the story on this relationship.

EC: Why did you have Gabriella play chess?

KB: I used to play chess although I haven’t played in many years. I felt Gabriella could get a release through it. She is such a ‘girly-girl.’ But when she plays, she dresses like a Tomboy and lets go of her persona. Besides, since chess is male dominated I wanted to make her as a woman chess master.

EC: Why did you decide to become a writer?

KB: I remember as a young child wanting to be an author and one of my teachers giving me a Thesaurus where she wrote that one day she hopes to read my book. Instead I became a journalist, which in some way was how I fulfilled my dream as a writer.

EC: Do you use your experiences of a crime reporter to help with the storylines?

KB: I fell into writing with my first book in an effort to rid myself of the memory of this man, Curtis Dean Anderson who kidnapped and killed this young girl. I have spoken on the phone with the aunt who has two other children about how we can never be normal parents. Both of us spent countless hours in a dark visiting room talking to this predator in an attempt to get him to reveal his crimes. As the mother of two small little girls, I was especially haunted by all of the horrible things he had told me. By writing the book, I was essentially engaging in a form of self-administered therapy, and purging him out of my head. Getting it all out of my head and on paper did help. When I left my job as a reporter and moved to Minneapolis, I carried with me an entire box full of reporter’s notebooks and letters from Anderson. On the bright side, I nearly never take a minute of my life for granted. I am always extraordinarily grateful for what is right in my life. I don’t take things like having a healthy and safe family for granted. So seeing the dark and tragic sides of life are constant reminders of the blessings in my own life.

EC: Are you Gabriella?

KB: I actually did a personality test and answered the questions as Gabriella and myself. I found we are direct opposites. She is different than me in that she is an extrovert, has a large Italian family that is close-knit, more daring, more social, and more religious. Her religious aspect is part of her upbringing and culture. She goes to mass every Sunday and then meets at grandmas for lunch. Whereas I did not find my religion until I was an adult when I found a Priest who embodied all my values.