Friday, January 31, 2014

 

 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Mona Rossi, heroine in A Bloody Good Cruise

Interview with Mona Rossi, heroine of A Bloody Good Cruise
By Diana Rubino

You, the Heroine . . .
Tell us more about yourself! Readers love to know about their favorite heroines, and this is your chance to make them feel close to you.
If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?

Soak in my hot tub overlooking the Tuscany Hills with a chilled glass of Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from right there in Tuscany. Fausto bought me a
case of this for our one-year anniversary. It’s a  deep ruby red with intense
aromas of notes of leather and cherry. Upon sipping, you get an astringent taste.

At $389 a bottle, I splurge when I sell a book—then I buy another bottle when the book sales hit the 1,000 copy mark.

But when I can’t be so decadent I drink Beaujolais
Nouveau, produced in the Beaujolais region of France. (sorry, Fausto, it’s not
Italian.) It comes out once a year, and goes on sale the third Thursday of
November. If you don’t get to a store in time, you can miss out. It sells out fast.
Distributors deliver it to stores at 12:01 a.m. local time. I’ve seen people in line
waiting for it. I’d do that for a Springsteen concert, but not for a bottle of wine!

Yes, I’m a Springsteen fan, and that’s something else I’d do with two free hours—go to one of his shows or blast his CDs and dance like crazy.
But along with the wine, I’d have Sinatra or Dean Martin playing in the background, with a vanilla candle. And if I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll bring three white chocolate truffles, and eat them fast so they don’t melt.



What kind of books do you love to read? Why?
The same kind of romances I write—suspense, where the heroine gets into one mess after another. I read out loud, it improves my diction for when I speak at writers’ conferences. I also like to browse cookbooks. I take a snapshot of the recipe in my head, then go and improvise.
My favorite author is Linda Howard. She writes such pulse-pounding suspense. And I know this sounds hokey, but when I met Fausto, I began reading Anne Rice. Fausto and his family aren’t the same kinds of vampires she writes about, but it gave me some perspective. To me, the original book Dracula, by Bram Stoker, was scary as hell. But I do consider it one of my favorite books because it was so innovative. I never believed in vampires before that book, and look where I am now!

     I like to go to Goodreads to seek out new titles. I don’t read the reader reviews, though. Too many of them have misled me. I just read the book summary and make up my own mind.
What is your stress buster?

A Pilates class or watching my favorite shows while working out on the elliptical trainer—I watch comedy working out, certainly not the news—I want to bust stress, not increase it. I have DVDs of some classic sitcoms:
I Love Lucy, the Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family, Seinfeld—and some live standup: Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, Richard Pryor, the pioneers, the greats. No comedians working the clubs today come close to those legends. Moving for an hour to comedy—or music—is the best way to relieve stress and work it all off. When not on the elliptical, I’ll get out my iPod, close the door, pull the shades and torch some calories dancing to my cardio mix—a scientifically engineered mix of songs that burn 450 calories—one of my warm up songs is Scream by Usher, one sprint song is Pump It by Black Eyed Peas, a recover song is Goin’ In by J.Lo, and a cool down song is Halo by Beyoncé.

What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you==re sad, sort of a comfort food?

Cheesecake made with cottage cheese—it’s healthy and low fat, and tastes every bit as good as ‘real’ cheesecake but much lighter. I also make honey balls, “Struffoli” which is a Christmas treat, but I make them year round. I added the recipe below. Every morning I make a healthy smoothie with almond milk, coconut milk, yogurt, either spinach or kale, cinnamon, and protein powder. If I use chocolate powder, I also add peanut butter. You can’t even taste the spinach or kale, but it does turn the smoothie green. I also do some creative things to oatmeal—top it with cinnamon or nutmeg. I make it with a green tea bag instead of plain water for a healthy boost.
Describe yourself in one word.
Determined.
What is the most adventurous thing you=ve ever done?
Being turned—but it was a matter of life and death. I trusted Fausto with my life, and here I am.
What makes you happy/sad/disappointed/frustrated/hopeful/angry? (Pick one)

What makes me angry is intolerance. After I went through with Fausto and his family, I saw first-hand what someone different must go through to gain acceptance. I’m trying to change that by giving talks about vampires, explaining who we really are, so someday prejudice against us—and anyone else the ‘majority’ deems ‘different’ will be an ugly thing of the past.
What are your wildest dreams/fantasies/kinks/quirks?

My wildest dream is to live a week in Ancient Rome, as a Senator’s mistress.
         What do you most want out of life, and what’s its opposite?

          I most want social acceptance and its opposite is to disappear in the crowd,      to be an ordinary citizen.

What would you never say, do or think?

I’d never insult someone just to show I’m better or smarter.
I’d never let anyone boss me around.
I’d never think I’m inferior to anyone because of my new status as a vampire.

What are some of your faults?

I’m too assertive at times. I still worry about what people think of me. I overcompensate to get them to accept and like me. I make a mess after cooking and don’t clean it up right away. This drives Fausto nuts. He’s a neat freak. Another fault that also drives him nuts is that I put off going to the doctor. We’ve been granted eternal life, but we do have to get checkups along the way!


Any new projects, work in progress?

Since I joined the vampire world, I began writing The Dark Side, a vampire romance set during the War of 1812 Salem MA, about the (fictional) son of historical figure Deacon Brodie, a larger-than-life Scotsman who faked his own death in the 1700s.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Even though your first, second, third, or even fourth novel may never see print, not a word is wasted if it's considered a learning experience. I also believe that you must write from the heart, and your passion will shine through in your work. There are many roads to success, but patience is the best way.

An Italian Tradition, Struffoli (Honey Balls)


When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or written recipes on the boat along with their possessions. A favorite Chrismas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here's an accurate recipe in English!
Ingredients
Dough:
•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
Directions
For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece of dough into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball about the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above).
In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. 

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a large spoon or damp hands, arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle any remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar, if using. Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.
Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.
Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

A Bloody Good Cruise is coming soon to The Wild Rose Press!

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