Message From The Author
A 'Daddy's Girl'
LISA SCOTTOLINE REVEALS SOME TRUTHS IN HER FICTIONAL THRILLERS
By Stephanie Schneider
Fans of Lisa Scottoline's legal thrillers know that her titles always provide an intriguing clue about what is to come. Her newest stories -- Dirty Blonde, out this month in paperback, and Daddy's Girl (Mar., HarperCollins) -- are no different and offer insight into both the story and the author. Dirty Blonde works on many levels, perhaps because the title came before the book.
"I was in my local mall -- I'm a woman, OK? -- and overheard someone say 'dirty blonde,'" Scottoline recounts. "I hadn't heard that term in so long, and I thought it would be a terrific title. It also gave me an instant idea about the character I wanted to write. I went home that day and started a book about a very dirty blonde."
The title of her March book is also evocative, though in a more personal way. Daddy's Girl speaks directly of its heroine, Natalie Greco, a bona fide daddy's girl who, like the author, is not only a bookworm but also a law professor.
A strong, likable female heroine is always at the center of
a Scottoline novel, but it's the complexity of the character that ultimately pulls in the reader. Cate Fante, the protagonist of Dirty Blonde and a judge with a secret sex life, epitomizes this. "Cate is a single woman who makes some bad personal choices but technically isn't doing anything wrong," Scottoline explains. "It is no secret that women are held to higher standards, and while Cate's trolling for men jeopardizes her job, relationship and reputation, a man with the same sexual escapades would be on a beer commercial."
With her background as a lawyer and law professor, comparisons are inevitably drawn between the author and her characters. While Scottoline laughingly calls herself a "fictional blonde" -- and has been one for as long as she can remember -- she does acknowledge some autobiographical elements in her
stories. First off, like Daddy's Girl Natalie, Scottoline is most
definitely a daddy's girl. "My dad passed a few years ago, but
he made me feel as if the sun rose and set with me. That is something I will carry with me forever."
Similarly, the importance of girlfriends to her characters
mirrors the importance of her own friends. Scottoline says that "through the changes in my life -- i.e., divorce and my father's passing -- my girlfriends have always been there for me, and
I for them. I want that warmth and love in my books, because
I think I'm not alone in feeling that way about my friends."
The romantic subplots that are so integral to her thrillers reflect the author's belief that "lasting romance is always possible in real life." On a lighter note, Scottoline confesses that her hunky heroes are sometimes inspired by her real-life taste. She admits that inspiration for the character of Angus Holt in Daddy's Girl came from a photo of a male model in Cosmopolitan magazine.
She says, "I have the photo taped to my wall, and it inspires me, because I think he's really starting to return my affection. And doesn't the thought of a bookworm getting the hunk make you want to stand up and cheer?"
With a handsome hunk out of the pages of Cosmo, Daddy's Girl seems destined to be a reader favorite when it's released next month. For those who can't wait, Scottoline offers this extended story preview. "Natalie Greco, a bookworm (read, me) grew up to be a law professor (also me, on the side) and was crazy about her dad (me too, and then some). But unlike me, Nat got a little shoved aside in her family by her three older football-playing brothers. Her quiet life turns upside down when a riot breaks out in a prison where she's teaching a class. In the chaos, she rushes to help an injured prison guard, and before
he dies, he says, 'Tell my wife, it's under the floor.'"
Suddenly, the girl who has always followed the letter of the
law is suspected of a brutal murder and encounters threats to her life around every curve. Not only are the cops after her, ruthless killers are desperate to keep her from exposing their secret. In the meantime, Nat gets dangerously close to her sexy colleague, Angus, whose warmth, strength and ponytail shake her dedication to her daddy-approved boyfriend.
With her love life in jeopardy, her career in the balance and her life on the line, Nat is thrown back on her resources -- her intelligence and her courage. Forced into hiding to stay alive, she sets out to save herself by deciphering the puzzle behind the dead guard's last words and learns the secret behind the greatest puzzle of all -- herself.
FAST FACTS ABOUT LISA
- She always has four things in her pocketbook: Her
wallet; her cell phone, "because I want my daughter to
be able to reach me"; a pack of Certs mints "because
you never know when Mr. Right, or even Mr. Right Now, will come along"; and an iPod filled with a whole range of music from 50 Cent to Frank Sinatra.
- She's appearing on a new Court TV cable show Murder by the Book, which re-investigates old crimes of interest
to authors. Other authors participating include Michael Connelly, James Ellroy and Jonathan and Faye Kellerman.
COOKING WITH LISA
What article for February would be complete without a special Valentine Day's treat? Although Scottoline says, "I have no favorite food," she was willing to share a favorite recipe for the modern cook. "Tomato Sauce for the Lazy" is an ideal recipe for those short on time or cooking skills who love Italian food. It is easy to prepare and delicious to share!
Tomato Sauce for the Lazy
- Put a couple of fresh, raw tomatoes into a food processor
- Add some olive oil
- Sprinkle in some chopped garlic and fresh basil
- Flip the switch and puree like crazy
- Serve cold on top of hot pasta
- Put fresh Locatelli cheese on top so it looks classy
(smell it first and it will make you happy)
Adds Lisa: "Eat while you read something terrific!"
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