INTERVIEW WITH J. D. Griffo

Murder At Icicle Lodge by J. D. Griffo brings back the Ferrara women detective team. They are investigating a murder where the people of interest mount up.

The four women are related and range in age from 65 to GenX. They are Alberta, her granddaughter Jinx, sister Helen and her sister-in-law Joyce with a supporting cast of police chief, Vinny; Jinx’s boyfriend, Freddy; Alberta’s boyfriend, Sloan; and Helen’s frenemy Father Sal. What makes these characters so likeable is their humorous banter.

This installment has reporter Jinx invited to cover the new lodge that is opening and featuring a famous Olympic gold medal ice skater, Pamela Gregory, making her return to the rink.  She was given two rooms, which allowed her to invite her grandmother, her aunts, and their significant others. Also going is the police chief who is a big fan of Gregory.  As everyone is looking forward to see Gregory’s special performance, Alberta comes with the news that it will not be happening.  She relays how Pamela was found dead on the ice. To make matters worse a blizzard keeps the authorities from reaching the lodge and keeps those there entrapped. Now Alberta and company must find the killer before other murders mount up.

This cozy mystery has engaging and quirky characters that must battle the red herrings to find the killer.  There are tidbits added about the Italian culture to make for a more interesting read.

Elise Cooper:  Why ice-skating?

J. D. Griffo: Ever since I was young I’ve been fascinated with figure skating. Some might rightfully say obsessed. I have no idea what the appeal was since I grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is not a winter sports mecca. The artistry, the athleticism, the music, and the costumes all swirled together to create this unique world of magic and pageantry that had me transfixed. The skaters I watched were elegant, graceful, and possessed a controlled strength and power that allowed them to glide over the ice at breakneck speed and jump into the air with wild abandon. All the while looking downright fabulous.

EC:  Who are your favorites?

JDG: Michelle Kwan is probably my favorite for her elegance and athletics. I also admired the plucky JoJo Starbuck, the exotic Tai Babilonia, the all-American beauty of Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill, the powerful Denise Beillmann, and the sexy but-oh-so controversial Katarina Witt.

EC: Describe the ice-skater in the story, Pamela Gregory?

JDG: She is a prima donna who is never satisfied.  As with all ice-skaters she was isolated as a child who ate, slept, and breathed figure skating.  Pamela has an iron spine and is confident. Her name even sounds like an ice skating Queen that has a first name that floats in the air with polished ease and a last name that commands silence and adoration.

EC:  Is it hard to write a cozy mystery?

JDG:  At first, but then I realized it is a soap opera story, which I love, that happens to have a murder.  When I introduce a subject matter, it must be something I am comfortable with and enjoy.

EC:  Does the Lodge play a role?

JDG:  The name actually came before the description. It is a type of character.  Everything happens there like the Clue game. I decided to make it big and foreboding. There are traps everywhere that can conceal secrets.  Inside it is homely, but outside it becomes dangerous.

EC:  How would you describe the women?

JDG:  Alberta has been re-born as a woman.  She did not have a good marriage, does not have a relationship with her older daughter, and was always pushed down.  The way she speaks is the way my Aunt Ann speaks.

Joyce is African-American who married into the family. She is based on my friend Vanessa who always uses the catch phrase “also too,” which is what Joyce uses. 

Helen is my father in the form of a woman.  She is blunt, gruff, a straight-shooter, and a former nun. She carries her pocket book all the time.

Jinx is based on Valerie Bertinelli from the TV show “One Day at A Time.” She looks and acts like her. But I also included my friend Linda in her as well since in her twenties Linda did what Jinx does: wearing high heels, red lipstick, and being a girly girl.

All have a little something of the Italian women I grew up with.  They have no filter; yet, are not mean-spirited.

EC:  There is also a moral question?

JDG:  You must be referring to the line said by one of the suspects, “What would you have done if you suspected someone in your family of committing murder, but couldn’t prove it?… Would you turn them into the police without sufficient proof and risk destroying their life?” I wanted to explore good versus evil. At the core of this series is family.  A writers’ job is to entertain, but also to impose a morality question to the reader, what would they do? How would they have acted if put in that situation?  Things are not so black and white, but have shades of grey.

EC:  A shout out about your next book?

JDG: It is titled Murder at Veronica’s Diner, where once again the setting is a character. It is the most dangerous murder yet.  Alberta finds herself in a situation that raises the stakes for everyone.  There is also the subplot of why Helen left the convent.

THANK YOU!!