Interview With Kaia Misk
I’m delighted to feature author Kaia Misk on my blog today. Kaia is a standout writer—and I know this because I’ve read her novel The Firstborn Son. I was blown away by the writing (it sings!), the plot (it intrigues!) and the Pittsburgh setting (so vivid I could almost smell the Primanti sandwiches!). Be sure to check out my full review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5362260348. But first, read on to learn about Kaia’s novels, her thoughts on writing and publishing, and more.
Welcome, Kaia! Tell us a little bit about The Firstborn Son.
This is my first traditionally published book. Some of the characters are based on real-life people such as my uncle Ignatius (Uncle Nut or Nutsy) and an Italian tailor I used to work with. For that reason, the book is dear to me. I had to tone down the accent for readers, but it was fun and a bit nostalgic.
As for Frankie Renzi and Sofia Ciambetti, here’s the story:
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 in order 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. They try to rekindle their love amidst a mob war. But can their love survive what the Mafia has in store?
How did you get interested in the mafia romance genre?
I’ve always been interested in romance novels and found the mystery/suspense subgenre was my favorite. Growing up Italian and Slovak, in a part of the country where one’s nationality meant something, drove my interest.
I’m cheered to see that The Renzie Affairs is a series. When can we expect to see the next book, and what is it about?
The Second Son, which is almost ready to query, will not come out until 2024. I’ve moved from the romance genre to commercial fiction, which is more suitable for a page-turning writing style. The Second Son is Joey’s story, which is built around his affection for a lady-lawyer named Lil. Through her work, she protects him. Joey, known as a failed protector throughout the city, maintains animosity toward his father, who tried to make him an enforcer years ago.
The Second Son builds on key male relationships, including John “Tiny” Caruso, Joey’s best friend from childhood, who has no living family of his own; Trip Barnes, a veteran who employs other veterans and subcontracts for the Renzi family business; plus, Uncle Nutsy, Frankie, and Angelo, the blood relatives.
Joey owns an upscale strip club in downtown Pittsburgh called Peekaboo but still works as a CPA and business broker, which will make him wealthy once he and Frankie purchase a piece of Steel City Casino. But a woman turns up dead outside his club, and his sinfully attractive attorney finds evidence of money laundering before the buy goes through. Someone wants to bring the family down. When the Renzis back out of the deal, criminals rise from the street around Joey, throwing punches and firing shots under the assumption that the second son is the family’s weak link. Only Joey can prove them wrong.
Which element of novel-writing do you consider most challenging?
I have characters, scenes, and concepts in my mind. What trips me up is often word counts specific to genre requirements. I don’t like filler writing. I follow the writing advice taught by James Scott Bell and I have several of his books. I’m learning to expand my mind and my chapters with the right balance of description and action.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing journey?
I am disappointed that more publishers do not drive books toward readers and libraries. While they get them into Overdrive, only a select few make it to Libby, which is used in my area. It took me months to understand the inner workings of getting a book into the library. Getting them into independent bookstores is another learning experience. I feel just a bit more guidance can push a book into many more hands.
What promotional and marketing tips can you offer other writers?
After my book was out for six months, my publisher finally told me not to work social media so hard and concentrate on writing the next book. It appears that until an author has two, preferably three books, available, it is difficult to market. If I had my wish, I would form a group of four authors, where one helps books get to libraries, two attack the independent books store marketing, and one handles social media. It is overwhelming for one person alone.
Do you ever get writer’s block, and if so, how do you overcome it?
Introducing the Word List! I have a system where I choose a noun, verb, preposition and object. I create a sentence and build from there. Part of this process involves a list of words in a notebook by my computer. Every day I find a word I like. It might be one that I don’t use often but I want to remember to enhance my writing. Put words on post-it notes around your computer, put them in an Excel spreadsheet, and use a random sorting method to choose a word. The possibilities are endless!
What are you reading right now?
Spencer Quinn’s novels about Chet the dog and Bernie the private investigator. They are told entirely from the dog’s point of view. I feel like I understand my dog a lot better!
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
This will always be memories as a younger grandchild around my grandparents’ dinner table at Christmas where the whole family was there. Italian food, Slovak food, and tradition.
Social media links
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-firstborn-son-kaia-misk/1142840680