With more than 25 books under her belt since her debut novel, Wherever Mary Went, was published in 1993, Lisa Scottoline is a veritable book-writing machine. Her eighth stand-alone thriller, Keep Quiet, was published in April, and the 13th novel in her Rosato & Associates legal thriller series, Betrayed, will be published in November. In between these two fiction releases is nonfiction: Scottoline’s fifth collection of humorous essays, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, co-written with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, will be released in July. And she’s currently writing her next stand-alone novel, scheduled for an April 2015 release.
“Now that my daughter doesn’t live at home, I have a lot more free time,” Scottoline confesses. Serritella, who is in her mid-20s, recently moved to New York City, 90 miles from the family home outside of Philadelphia. The two have written a weekly column together for the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Chick Wit,” for the past five years; some of those columns are included in the collections they’ve co-written.
Although she regularly switches between genres in her nonstop writing schedule, her writings are “very much connected,” Scottoline insists. “I’m writing about the true lives of women, whether I’m writing about women in real life or in fiction,” she explains. “Everything is everything. It’s women’s voices talking about the stuff of real life.” Betrayed is a case in point: the story revolves around Rosato & Associates attorney Judy Carrier, who feels left behind both personally and professionally, now that her best friend, Mary DiNunzio, has made partner at the firm and is getting married. A beloved aunt’s breast cancer diagnosis leads Carrier to her side, but also results in her investigating the mysterious death of her aunt’s friend—and, in the process, unearthing family secrets that some would prefer remain buried.
Scottoline describes her Rosato & Associates series as crime novels with subplots about her characters’ families; in contrast, her stand-alone novels are family stories with a crime subplot, and the essays are humorous memoirs about her own family. Humor is, in fact, the thread that runs throughout all of her work: “I’m writing about smart women. They’re always going to say something clever and funny,” she says, which raises our expectations that Scottoline herself will be clever and funny during her presentation at today’s book and author breakfast.
While this is not Scottoline’s first BEA, which she calls “Bookapalooza,” it is her debut as a breakfast speaker. She’s a little nervous, she admits, and jokes that she half-expects Serritella to show up and heckle her from the audience. And, she says, she knows that she will run into, as she invariably does at BEA, the agent who sent her a rejection letter 25 years ago, telling her that he wasn’t looking for new clients, and if he was, he wouldn’t consider her. “Yeah, I’m bitter,” she says, “but I’m Italian. I’ll pretend not to see him. I’m so blessed, so happy to be doing what I am doing.”