Message From The Author
Who's Sofie Metropolis?
She's Tori Carrington's spunky new heroine, a Greek gumshoe who'll crack the case and get her man every time
By Michele Bardsley
Who's the Greek private-eye chick that's always getting in a fix? Sofie!
We're talking 'bout Sofie Metropolis, the quirky P.I. heroine who's the eponymous star of Tori Carrington's new mystery series, launching from Forge in hardcover this month. Carrington is the pen name of husband-and-wife
writing team Lori and Tony Karayianni, who sold their first novel
to Harlequin Temptation in 1998 and never looked back. This dynamic duo has since written more than 30 books, both single-title and series, and now they're taking on mysteries, offering up
a humorous, hip series with a heavy dose of Greek heritage and
a sassy, endearing heroine.
An ex-fiancée, ex-waitress and ex-good girl, Sofie's shucked just about everything from her old life, except her wedding presents and the apartment building she lives in and owns. She's too kindhearted to demand rent from her tenants, but she's feisty enough as a private-investigator-in-training to take on any case. When she's hired to get the goods on a cheating wife, she becomes entangled in a murder investigation—and that's only the start of her crazy adventures.
The authors have drawn on Tony's roots—and culinary skills—to create Sofie's close-knit clan of quirky relatives. "Sofie is simply a zany, fun and challenging part of our natural evolution as writers," the Karayiannis said via e-mail. "We want our readers to feel like they've sat down with family and fed the goat meat to the dog under the table, and to be looking forward to the next visit before they're even finished with the present one. Just like after a big Greek meal, we want to leave them with a sigh, a smile and a craving for more."
Q: Sofie Metropolis has a lot in common with Janet Evanovich's popular sleuth Stephanie Plum. They're both single, hounded by well-meaning, matchmaking mamas and they still live where they grew up, in tight-knit communities. What do you think sets Sofie and Stephanie apart?
A: We like to think that if Stephanie had a Greek cousin, Sofie would be her. Sofie's stories have a more ethnic flavor. Especially when set against her home turf of Astoria, Queens, which has been dubbed in some quarters as the new Ellis Island.
While Sofie is American in every sense of the word, many members of her family are more Greeks-living-in-America, with one foot firmly fixed here, the other planted deeply in the history-rich soil of their homeland. We're having a blast making the two cultures clash, then circling back and drawing from the fundamental truths that bind us all so closely together.
Q: Sofie almost married a "good Greek boy" but was saved from that travesty by bad timing and a slutty maid of honor. The good news is that Sofie is free to shtup the yummy Australian bounty hunter Jake Porter. What's the down-low on these two?
A: In light of Thomas-the-Toad's wedding day transgressions, Porter is exactly what Sofie needs—but sort of doesn't need—right now. He's safe in that he's not Greek and is more "wild, monkey sex material" than "groom material." But he is also a 100 percent prime male hottie and presents a mystery she can't help but want to solve. (Is he a bounty hunter, or isn't he?) And later on in the series, you'll see how Sofie represents the same puzzle for him.
Q: You've said in past interviews that Lori is the "chief writer" and Tony is the "master plotter." Was that the case with Sofie Metropolis? Or did you re-adjust your roles as a writing team for this new venture?
A: This is the first time we've written in first person, and it's difficult to really merge two voices as one, so Lori retains her title of "chief writer." As for Tony's plotting abilities, in the first book there's a background mystery going on behind the focus story that involves Porter and several other characters. This overarching plot of the series won't detract from each of the individual books, but will tie them all together in one mind-blowing climax later down the line.
Q: Greek foods (and Nescafé frappes) are a big part of Sofie's life. How culturally important is food to the Greeks in general and to Sofie
in particular? And how the heck did she get hooked on the frappes?
A: To Greeks, food isn't merely something to eat—it's a cause for celebration. Simple words like "I'm making fish soup," are enough to bring the family together for hours of conversation and laughter. Greek food and drink and what they represent—family, culture and the chance to delight in both—play a large role throughout the series. As for Sofie's obsession with the frappes, in the summer, this is what most everyone drinks in Greece, and one of Tony's brothers drinks them all year round. He fixes his own even as a guest at your house so he gets the mix just right. We loved giving Sofie this quirk.
Q: There's a lot going on in Sofie's first tale of murder and mayhem: missing dogs, neighborhood vampires, arguments with ex-fiancés, disappearing dead bodies, hot make-out sessions with a mysterious bounty hunter, dodging bullets and pissed-off siblings. What can we expect from the second book in this series, which is due out in June 2006?
A: Much of the same… and more! A dirty dry cleaner, Fred the missing ferret, a hilarious, squeamish assistant to a "floater," lots of Jordan almonds, a new pair of unwanted cement boots and more intense, hot make-out sessions with the mysterious bounty hunter. We have all sorts of fun stuff in store for the next book and the one after that and the one after… you get the picture. If readers have a fraction as much fun reading this series as we're having writing it, we'll be very happy Greeks, indeed!
For more on the novel, the authors or this summer's Who's Sofie Metropolis? bus tour, visit www.sofiemetro.com.
Michele Bardsley lives in Florida with her family and two spoiled Bengal cats. Her next book, Cupid, Inc., will hit stores in February 2006. Visit her website, www.michelebardsley.com.
Grab a Frappe and Try Tony's Baklava!
1 box Greek phyllo sheets (in your grocer's freezer section)
2 sticks real, unsalted butter
4 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
Note: Brush each sheet of phyllo with butter before layering. A Pyrex pan is best for baking.
In a regular 13"x9" baking pan, layer 8-10 sheets of phyllo. Sprinkle half of the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon on the prepared phyllo. Layer five more sheets of phyllo. Sprinkle on the remaining walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. Layer 15-18 more sheets of phyllo. Before baking, cut diagonally into diamond shapes. Make sure your knife is sharp and you get all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until top and bottom of phyllo is golden brown. Let cool as you make the syrup.
4 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of honey (depending on taste)
1 pinch of vanilla (1/2 tsp., if liquid extract)
1 one-inch piece of lemon rind (or orange rind)
Optional: Put a cinnamon stick to boil with syrup. Sprinkle paprika over completed dish for extra zing.
Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour syrup over baklava. Let sit until syrup is absorbed and dish has cooled. Opa! You're done!
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