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Interview With Rosetta Diane Hoessli



Rosetta Diane Hoessli is the author of the mystery/suspense novel Tip the Piano Man, which will be released by The Wild Rose Press on May 6, and a historical mystery novel, Whispers Through Time. Rosetta joins us today to discuss her upcoming release, her strategies for overcoming writer’s block, the deplorable situation that inspired her new novel, and much more. Oh, and she comes with a warning label you might want to heed. Read on for a chat with a fascinating lady.


Tell us a little bit about Tip the Piano Man.

Tip the Piano Man is a mystery/suspense novel ripped from today’s headlines (to coin a popular phrase) about pedophilia on the Internet, children falling through the cracks of the courts, and corrupt legal officials who see an easy way to use these helpless little ones as a way to gain personal wealth and power.


Madison Wagner is a driven and single-minded child psychologist in San Antonio, Texas, who runs a home for abused and neglected children called Hope’s Home. Under court order, she has taken in six-year-old Piper Callaghan, who has witnessed the murder of her mother—a prostitute/drug addict virtually enslaved by a man long suspected of trafficking in children. Piper’s alleged father, mystery writer Luke Callaghan, has come back to the city of his own impoverished childhood at Madison’s insistence, but only to determine if the little girl is, in fact, his child.  

             

A twisted course of events and accidents alerts Madison and Luke to the existence of a child sex ring in which Piper has been a victim, and the alert comes to them from beyond the grave. It isn’t long before they realize they are fighting a ringleader who is wealthy, powerful, and a pillar of the community. Even worse, they believe that someone within the foster care system is plucking children from their temporary families to use them in child pornography, and the person supplying these young victims is someone who’s gradually learning everything about Madison’s children’s shelter.  

              

Luke and Madison race against time to save the child Luke has come to adore—not realizing that in saving her, they will crack an insidious child sex ring that has shared its perverted secrets on computers all over the world.


Where did you get the idea for this novel?

Many years ago, a six-year-old child in our family was sexually abused by her next-door neighbor for more than two years and I became intimately involved in the battle against child abuse in our city. The idea for Tip the Piano Man came from my work—for several years, I saw first-hand what was happening all around this country, and I was determined to write about it. I decided that a mystery/suspense novel would be the best way to convey, in a really good story, the message I wanted to get across.


Who are the main characters, Madison Wagner and Luke Callaghan?

Madison is a young, driven, obsessive child psychologist who has sacrificed her personal life to save the children in Texas who need her. I’ve met and become friends with several women just like Madison. She has a tendency to judge a book by its cover, so to speak, even though she understands better than most that people are generally the creation of their life experiences. Consequently, although she finds Luke Callaghan incredibly attractive, she has no use for him in the beginning because he’s a best-selling, very famous mystery novelist—and she thinks that’s all he is. But she comes to learn there’s much more to him than just that, and she realizes she has no right to judge him or his life decisions. Their growing affection for one another is a learning curve for her as well as for him.


How did you get interested in writing mystery/suspense novels?

I love to read historical mysteries, old-fashioned Gothic novels, and true crime. I’ll read anything by Leon Uris, Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Daphne DuMaurier, and Ann Rule—all the best writers in those categories, I think. I started reading when I was about four years old, and the first story I wrote turned out to be a mystery, so it just all came naturally. Even my first novel, Whispers Through Time started out as a dual-time story that slid without any effort on my part into the category of historical mystery.


What are you working on now?

My current work-in-progress is the second book of my Whispers Through Time series, tentatively titled Fires Over Texas. It’s another historical, dual-time mystery, set partially during the Goliad Massacre of the Texas Revolution (1836), and partially in contemporary Goliad, Texas.


Are you an outliner or a pantser?

I’m definitely a seat-of-my-pants kind of gal! My outlines, such as they are, are made up of main characters, key words, locations, and spurts of dialogue that I don’t want to forget, usually written on the backs of envelopes. And I never outline more than a chapter or two ahead of where I am in the book. I have a friend on Facebook who writes a 65-page outline for each of his books—I can’t even imagine that! I’d lose all interest. But it works for him.


Do you base your characters on real people or make them up from scratch?

Tip the Piano Man is the only book I’ve ever written where all my characters are composites of people that I was very close to, people I worked with, or people whose behavior (primarily criminal) that I had to study carefully. All the characters in Whispers Through Time, with the exception of actual historical individuals, just came to me—in dreams, in snippets of conversation, or in different locations. So far, the characters in Fires Over Texas, really seem to have minds of their own as well.


What is your favorite part, and least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

I love editing—especially with my wonderful editor, Josette, at The Wild Rose Press. She’s so incredible, and she encouraged me throughout the writing of Tip the Piano Man, which meant so much to me because it was so difficult. But she understood why I needed to write it, and she never let me forget that. 

   

I hate marketing and social media more than anything else. I’m painfully shy, so personal appearances are difficult for me, but I always enjoy them once I get started. So, maybe that’ll ease up as I go along.


How do you deal with reviews, both positive and negative?       

I’m very grateful for any review, positive or negative, but I try not to pay much attention to them. I think it’s more important for me to follow the beat of my own drummer, and to always believe in myself. If I allow someone else to either steal my thunder or give me a big head, I lose sight of my own goals and that’s deadly for a writer. Positive reviews, of course, I always use in marketing. Negative reviews (unless they’re constructive and I want to remember them) go immediately into the trash.


What advice would you give an aspiring writer?               

Once you’ve written your book, recognize that the writing field has changed radically in the last 30+ years, and you have to change with it. Recognize that you’re going to have to market your own books, set up your own events, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. But before it’s written, really analyze what you want to accomplish. Do you have a great message you want to impart? Or do you just want to tell sweet love stories to help readers relax and enjoy themselves? Know what you want to write and why you want to write it. Then…do it. Don’t stop until it’s finished. Believe in yourself. Be persistent. It’ll pay off.


Do you ever get writer’s block, and if so, how do you overcome it?         

Of course! But I do have surefire ways to get rid of it. Sometimes I watch movies or read other books set in the genre/location/era that I want to write about. If I’m having problems with the romance portion, I listen to story songs. (Right now, as I work through a problem in Fires Over Texas, I’m listening constantly to “Jolene” by Dolly Parton or “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry.) If I need to let my mind go free to deal with descriptive issues, I get in my car and drive out to my favorite areas in Texas. There’s nothing like the wide, open prairies of Texas to clear out your head. If it gets too bad, I talk out the entire book with my husband of fifty years, Kevin. He’s the best plotter I know! He goes straight to the heart of the story. I don’t know how he does it.


How will you go about choosing the next book that you read?

I love the Gilded Age and the Titanic (I think I keep looking for a different ending…), so I’m going to read The Second Mrs. Astor, by Shauna Abe. The cover is gorgeous, and that’s the first thing that caught my eye. The subject matter is next. I can’t wait to read it.


Who is your favorite author?

I love, love, love Leon Uris, author of Exodus, Mila 18, QB VII, Topaz, Battle Cry, and many other novels. He wasn’t a great technical writer—his grammar wasn’t perfect and his sentence structure could leave a lot to be desired—but he could tell a story and develop characters like no one else. I met him years ago at a small gathering and was so awed I couldn’t even tell him my name! I was so overwhelmed I went into the bathroom and cried.


If people came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Be careful—she’ll make you into a character.


What’s one thing you want to be remembered for?

I hope I was a good mom, and that I helped my daughter believe in herself.


Would you rather…


…be free from junk mail or free from email spam for the rest of your life?

Junk mail I can throw in the trash, but email spam can do terrible things to your computer if you don’t handle it properly. So, I’d have to go with email spam for the rest of my life—God spare me!


…lose a limb or be without a cell phone for the rest of your life?

I’d hate to lose a limb, and I’d love to be without a cell phone. My family accuses me of never answering it, which is true, and there’s a special place in hell for all the scammers who call me. I turn it off every chance I get. No one needs to get a hold of me all the time. 


Excerpt from Tip the Piano Man:

The child’s blood-curdling screams filled the room, pounded in his head, slammed into his chest with such force his entire body shook. As the shrieks of pain and terror dissipated into moans, baby-like whimpers, and finally silence, tears streamed unheeded down his face.


Suddenly the screen went blank and the only sound in the room was Madison’s muffled sobs. But then, just as he reached for the remote to turn off the film, Lacy reappeared on the screen, now seated on the very mattress he’d seen in her bedroom yesterday.


She wore the gaudy silk nightgown he’d noticed draped over her mirror. She looked exhausted and ill, with only the fragile bone structure in her face reminiscent of her once-luminous beauty. She leaned forward, hands clasped in her lap, her purple-shadowed eyes filled with pleading and tears.


“I have to talk fast…I don’t have much time. Luke, if you’re watching this…please take Piper away from here. No one will listen to me…” Her smoke-husky voice cracked. “They’re going to hurt her, and then they’ll kill her…” She leaned even closer to the camera. “You have to remember this: Tip the piano man.


And then the screen went black.


Buy links:


Author Bio:

Rosetta Diane Hoessli has been a freelance writer since 1985. A winner of national and state-wide writing contests, she has served as senior feature writer, columnist, and executive editor for three regional publications—two in San Antonio and one in Houston, Texas.


Rosetta also collaborated with New York socialite Jeanette Longoria in Longoria’s self-published book entitled Aphrodite and Me: Discovering Sensuality and Romance at Any Age, co-authored biographical novel Falling Through Ice with Carolyn Huebner Rankin, and edited a book of short stories, Working On the Wild Side, compiled and written by Florida Fish and Wildlife officer Jeff Gager.


Whispers Through Time (2021) was Rosetta’s first solo novel. She is currently working on a sequel entitled Fires Over Texas. Her second book, entitled Tip the Piano Man, is a mystery/suspense novel to be released by The Wild Rose Press on May 6, 2024.

Today, Rosetta focuses most of her attention on writing historical fiction and traveling with her husband, Kevin. They reside in San Antonio, Texas with their two rescued fur-kids, near their daughter and two grandchildren.


Social media:

Follow me on Twitter (X)! My handle is @DianeThomp3419

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2 Comments


Liz Flaherty
Liz Flaherty
Apr 26

I love the title! The excerpt is heartrending.

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Ronni Hoessli
Ronni Hoessli
Apr 26
Replying to

Thank you, LIz! I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think.


Rosetta Hoessli

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