Archive for Italy

Reasons to Be Cheerful: My Personal Gratitude List

This post originally appeared on Murder Is Everywhere.

Chatting in two different languages: with journalist Mirko Giacchetti of MilanoNera

Have you heard about gratitude lists?

Writing down what one is grateful for, every night, is said to benefit psychological health, sleep, and relations with others. I’ve been marking small bits of gratitude down in my trusty bullet journal of 2018, a dog-eared book that is entering into its last days of service. I list everything in it from “I have a job that brings joy” to “I GOT THROUGH THE BORDER!” (into Gujarat).

Here are more of my gratitude entries for 2018:

My family.  And not just for what they do for me. Several of my family members are in mental health professions, and their treatment of addicts has changed the lives of thousands of patients—and their families. I also admire the way my family works hard at handling personal health challenges and steps in to help one another.

Soho Press. This dedicated independent publisher gave me the extra time I needed when going over edits, a fabulous national tour, and gorgeous marketing. I know we are together for the long run, and in an unstable profession, this is a gift beyond measure. And my agent Vicky Bijur, of course, who has stood by me for many years, always believing that a good book can find a home.

Agent Vicky Bijur, and Soho Press’s Juliet Grames and Monica White

Book Critics. There is very little space in newspapers and magazines for book news, so I was floored by the many reviews that came out for The Widows of Malabar HillPublishers Weekly and Amazon blew me away when each independently selected it as a Best Mystery of 2018.

Penguin Random House India! I thank my longtime publisher in India for touring me around the country last spring to promote A Murder in Malabar Hill. I met enthusiastic readers, talented journalists. Also in India, I can’t believe the energy of my film agents, Matter Advisors, who are stealthily slipping Perveen Mistry into Bollywood.

In Delhi with PRH PR Smit Jhaveri, Actor Aishwarya Jha-Menon, and PRH Editor Ambar Saihil Chatterjee

Signing at Crossword Books in Ahmedabad, Gujarat

With historian-authors Sandhya Menon and Usha Thakkur in Mumbai

Neri Pozza Publishers and Festival in Noir in Italy. Grazie mille to to the publisher of Le Vedove di Malabar Hill for organizing such a productive and delicious week in Milan. Having a simultaneous translator, and camera-clicking paparazzi shouting “Bella Bella” is something I will never forget. And Festival in Noir flew me to Italy, put me up in the historic Duomo district, and introduced me to fascinating fellow panelists and book lovers.

NP’s PR Daniela Pagani and my editor Sabine Schultz

This Italian photographer literally stopped traffic to get his shots!

Recorded Books.  Not only did the world’s largest audiobook company turn The Widows of Malabar Hill into one of the best audiobooks of 2018, they listened to my dreams about the future of audio fiction. How lucky am I that the RB publisher lives in my neighborhood?

Crime Writers of Color. This is a new and mighty writers’ organization that came together and has grown to more than 100 writers—all after a conversation between a few women writers at Malice Domestic 2018. CWOC stands for respecting diversity and lowering barriers to publication for everyone. I love being one of the founding members.

The Instant Pot. I wanted to ignore the latest cooking fad, because I have a working stove. But the Instant Pot makes beans better than anyone with a spoon. And even better, a whole subcategory of cookbook has arisen to put together complex international dishes with this pressure cooker’s efficient but intricate operations. I had more fun with the Instant Pot than with any other appliance in memory.  Chicken vindaloo, anyone?

The Women’s March. Still going strong and fighting the good fight. Bit by bit, we shall overcome the madness that has grown across the United States like mold.

Telling the Senate how we feel about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Aqua-aerobics. I never thought I would be one of those ladies kicking up waves in the warm-water pool, but do you know? It’s a blast, and I am much less creaky.

Daisy and Charlie. The aged beagle and baby Yorkie may look like odd fellows when they walk out together, but they are a devoted pair. I am grateful that this year, they are going outside more than inside—except when I’m touring.

Murder is Everywhere. To the writers who brought me in and are so relentlessly encouraging. We have signed side-by-side in bookshops, chatted together on panels, and raised a glass or two at mystery conventions. No matter how far apart we live, mystery brings us together. And we could not do it without the Murder Is Everywhere readers who keep track of our whereabouts.

Milano, Milano!

This post originally appeared on Murder Is Everywhere.

I send greetings from the north of Italy, where Christmas lights are twinkling and it’s time to buy panettone.

It was a grand surprise a few months ago, when my Italian publisher, Neri Pozza, share an invitation to be a literary guest at Festival In Noir, an international festival for crime writers and film makers in Milan and Lake Como. The proposed four-day visit would involve connecting with festivalgoers, as well as giving interviews to the Italian press about La Vedove di Malabar Hill (in English: The Widows of Malabar Hill).

Allora! (As Aziz Ansari taught me to say in Master of None).

I have never been to Italy, but have dreamed of visiting since I was ten years old and first ate spaghetti carbonara. My interest only grew as I grew older and discovered neorealist cinema, cappuccino, Italian fashion designers, other popular representations of the best in Italian taste. I fired back an affirmative email to Neri Pozza, and off I flew—arriving on a sunny, cold Monday morning in early December.

After I’d checked into the marvelous Hotel De la Ville, just a short walk from the famous 14th-century Duomo Cathedral of Milano, I couldn’t believe what a sweet spot I’d landed in. But I was exhausted. I transferred a stunning welcome bouquet of roses from the festival into cool water, and then I slid into a hot bath.

I woke up two hours later, and it was dusk. I left the hotel and strolled nearby streets, taking in a grand city where historical architecture and holiday light displays made a beautiful combination.

That first night in Italy, Giuseppe Russo, the director of Neri Pozza publishing, and Daniela Pagani, communications/publicity head for NP, led me through the beautiful streets to dinner at Ristorante La Brisas, where I tasted Italian haute cuisine: pork with braised greens, a salad with cod and vegetables, a rhubarb and raspberry tart. So sophisticated and yummy.

The next morning, Tuesday, my real Italian job started. I set an alarm to wake up in time for breakfast and a quick blow-out at a salon across the street from the hotel—where I spied another writer doing the same. All morning and afternoon was filled press interviews mastered  with the help of Daniela and simultaneous translator Sarah Cuminetti.

There were straight interviews with note-taking for people who wrote for newspapers and magazines, and some very interesting permutations, like the radio host who asked Sarah a question, which she then translated for me. I spoke my answer in English over the phone, and then Sarah took the phone and recorded her translation. How the producers will put it together I can’t imagine, but he did say he was happy with the sounds of our voices. We also had plenty of breaks which included macchiato and an especially delicious pastry sweeping the international landscape called a krapfen.

If you don’t like reading about food, now’s the time to check out.

More talking the rest of the morning and then lunch with my Neri Pozza editor, Sabine Schultz. She is from Germany but speaks Italian and English fluently. What did I taste this time? Arancini balls of rice stuffed with ragu—and a green salad. Sabine and Sarah taught me how to dress my own salad with salt, some shakes of balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. It turned out pretty well.

Toward the end of the afternoon I had an interview with Mirko Giacchetti of Milano Nera magazine, which focuses on crime and thrillers. Mirko asked what I’d say if I was back in the 1920s and spending time over a meal with Perveen Mistry (my series heroine). l realized that the two of us would chatter about our favorite Indian dishes, and then Perveen would probably confess she hated cooking. And then, I would try to get to the meat of things: how Perveen could make her professional dreams come true.

Tuesday rounded out with an interview with Italian journalist John Vignola at a bookstore, Libreria Feltrinelli Duomo, which is underneath a grand outdoor space, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II. I was delighted that an Instagram friend whom I had invited after she commented on the Italian edition actually came to the event. It was rather crazy to have two people talking at once—John and another person doing simultaneous translation—but I made it. And the Italians who came to get their books signed had the most beautiful names. Paola, Flavia, Gabriella… they deserve their own book.

Tuesday night, the visiting writers and filmmakers feasted on beef slow cooked in Barolo, drank Pinot Noir, and mulled over a choice of gelatos and sorbets for dessert.

After tonight, there are two more days of press interviews, a panel about British mysteries at the university and very likely more delicious fare—both literary and on the plate.