The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Fellow Blue Ridge Literary Agency author, Cathi Stoller is here!

Welcome, Cathi! It's so nice to have a blog and be able to host my fellow authors from the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. I've been really looking forward to this interview and finding out a bit more about you and your work. Shall we get started?

1) When and why did you decide you wanted to be a published author?

I’ve always loved to read and I believe I’ve probably had a latent desire to write ever since I was a little girl when I remember writing a short play for the Girl Scouts. After college, I started working as an advertising copywriter and have done so for many years. At some point, I thought about writing a novel, but was very hesitant to give it a try.

Eventually, I took a course at Marymount Manhattan College entitled “How to Overcome Your Fear of Writing Your Novel.” The title of the course was a challenge I couldn’t ignore. It was a great beginning and gave me the confidence I needed to actually get started on my novel writing career. TELLING LIES and my upcoming books, KEEPING SECRETS, and THE HARD WAY, are the results.

2) What is the best and worse thing you have learned from an editor/agent?

I have a fabulous agent, Dawn Dowdle, who is also a terrific editor.
I believe that the most important thing I learned from Dawn is patience. It is not a characteristic that comes easily to me. In advertising, things happen quickly as opposed to publishing, which seems to move at a snail’s pace. Dawn sent my work to various publishers and never gave up on me. It took a while, but in the end it was totally worth all the effort we both expended.

3) Favourite author/s?

This is a hard question to answer. There are many authors I admire and really enjoy reading. My favorite contemporary mystery author is Lindsey Davis, who writes the Marcus Didius Falco ancient Roman mysteries. She’s brilliant and her work is filled with a very arch sense of humor. I also enjoy the classics from authors such as Agatha Christie and Steig Larsen and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO series is also a great favorite.

4) What is your typical day?

I still have a full time advertising job, so my day is often very hectic. Since my novel, TELLING LIES, was published in April, I have been spending my evenings working on blogging, writing materials to promote it and working with my publicists to set up readings. I’ve also been working on edits for KEEPING SECRETS and on several short stories. And, I like to go to the gym, eat and sleep, too!

5) Share your blurb or short excerpt from your latest release with us

This excerpt features my protagonists, Laurel Imperiole, an editor at WOMEN NOW magazine, who is convinced she has bumped into a dead man at the Uffizi Museum and her boyfriend, NYPD Detective, Aaron Gerrard, who has been trying to convince her she might be mistaken.

Laurel couldn't get Aaron out of her mind. She looked at her watch and shifted in her seat, turning her head to let the breeze play with her long, dark hair. Aaron had departed from Marco Polo Airport on an early morning Alitalia flight to New York. He was most likely home by now. In spite of all their bickering and differences of opinion, she missed him already. Sighing out loud, she shifted again as she noticed the sign for the turn off to the Piazza Mino da Fiesole, “the town’s picturesque main square.” Delving into her relationship with Aaron would have to wait. She had more immediate things to think about than where the relationship was going with her bossy and very sexy detective.

“I forgive you. And so does Helen,” she'd said as she’d marched into their room after her telephone call to New York. “We know you can't help being a take control jerk, but we came up with a workable plan.” She'd ignored the raised eyebrows and skeptical smile that greeted her words.

“Was that supposed to be a compliment? Does that mean we’re through fighting?”

Laurel had been smart enough to realize that continuing to voice their disparate points of view would just take them round and round and not really get them anywhere. “Yes.” She’d slipped into his arms and kissed him lightly. “Helen's agreed to help investigate Jeff Sargasso's disappearance and his dealings with Alfred Hammersmith.” She’d looked into his eyes. “But we were both hoping that you'd work on getting additional information from the Feds.”

Pulling back slightly but not breaking their embrace, Aaron had stared back. “And, I suppose the two of you will tell me everything you discover? Not keep it between ‘the girls’ and leave the ‘take control jerk’ out of the picture?”

“We will. I promise. If we're right, there's too much at stake.”

Laurel had sensed that he wanted to believe her but couldn't give himself over entirely to trust what she was telling him. In a way, she’d understood his hesitancy. When they’d met, her reticence to let him in had almost proven fatal.

Finally, he'd let go of her and held up his hands in defeat. “Okay, you win. I'll check the NYPD records and see what we have on the guy.” Before she could ask about the FBI, he’d continued. “I'll call a friend at the Bureau and see if I can shake loose some information.”

She'd leaned over and kissed him again, this time with a touch of passion he couldn't ignore. “Jeez, is the word ‘sucker’ permanently tattooed on my forehead?” Shaking his head, he'd taken her hand and led her to the perfectly made up bed.

6) Who would you cast to play your hero & heroine in a movie?

For the movie version of TELLING LIES, I see someone like Leonardo DiCaprio playing Aaron, my detective Emily Blunt as Laurel. I definitely see Edie Falco as Helen McCorkendale, the private investigator who is Laurel’s friend and co-conspirator.

7) Did you plan this book? Or write it as it came?

I planned the idea of it, but only had a very general outline in mind as I was writing. Most of my writing contains some element of what’s currently happening in the world around us, some facts that I hope add to the reader’s enjoyment. With TELLING LIES, I started with the premise of a situation I felt was a strong possibility after the tragedy of after 9/11: the idea that someone would take advantage of this terrible time to leave behind a life they were unhappy with and disappear. At the same time, prices in the worldwide art market were reaching record levels. I thought that would be a good element to layer into the plot as the reason for my villain’s deception.

8) What surprised you the most when you became a published?
I was just elated that it finally happened. That someone was willing to take a chance on my work and me. It was one of the best days of my life.

9) Do you have a dedicated writing space? What does it look like?

I have a small office/den at home where I have my computer and printer, etc. set up. It also has a couch and TV that my husband rarely gets to use.

10) What’s next for you?

I would definitely like TELLING LIES to be turned into a movie. In the meantime, I’m finishing the edits on the second book in the series, KEEPING SECRETS, which deals with hidden identity and identity theft. I’m also writing the third story in the series, THE HARD WAY, which is about International diamond smuggling.

I’m a member of the New York chapter of Sisters in Crime and have a story in our upcoming anthology, MURDER NEW YORK STYLE: FRESH SLICES, which will be published in early September.

Readers can visit my website,, find me on Facebook at Cathi Stoler Author and Twitter at @cathicopy.


Here’s a short synopsis of TELLING LIES, and following that my bio.

How many lies does it take to get away with murder?

When a chance encounter in Florence’s Uffizi Museum plunges Women Now editor Laurel Imperiole and private investigator Helen McCorkendale into an investigation of missing persons and stolen Nazi art, the women find themselves ensnared in a deadly maze of greed and deceit.

Could the man Laurel bumped into have been Jeff Sargasso, an art dealer and friend who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11? Was it possible he was still alive and had disappeared without a trace?

Laurel, who was vacationing in Italy with her boyfriend, Aaron Gerrard, a New York City detective, is thoroughly shaken by the experience of seemingly meeting a dead man. Sargasso was supposedly killed that day during a meeting regarding the sale of a 150 million dollar painting between a Japanese billionaire and a Wall Street tycoon. Determined to get to the bottom of things, she and Helen investigate in Italy and in New York.

As she delves deeper, Laurel leaves the truth behind, telling lies to Aaron about her actions and the liaison she’s formed with Lior Stern, an Israeli Mossad agent with an agenda of his own. One lie leads to another, entangling everyone and everything the women encounter, including murder and the painting at the heart of the affair.

Searching for answers, Laurel and Helen thread their way through a sinister skein of lies that take them on a whirlwind journey that could end in death.

Cathi Stoler was an award-winning advertising copywriter. Telling Lies is her first mystery/suspense novel. Other novels in this series will include Keeping Secrets, which delves into the subject of hidden identity, and, The Hard Way, a story about the international diamond smuggling. She has also written several short stories including Fatal Flaw, which was published online this April at Beat To A Pulp and Out of Luck, which will be included in the upcoming New York Sisters in Crime anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices. In addition to Sisters in Crime, Cathi is also a member of Mystery Writers of America. You can contact Cathi at

Great interview, Cathi - I wish you all the luck in the world with sales and the success of book number two. Would you mind sharing a bit about Camel Press with us? There are a brand new publisher to me who I hadn't heard of until I joined the agency.

Rachel x


  1. Ha! Dawn has taught me patience as well. And I'm very impatient!

    Great interview. I didn't know there was such a class out there to take.

    I love your sweater in the picture. Extra stylish!

  2. Hi Aubrie,
    Glad you enjoyed the interview.


  3. Hi from the gal who taught Dawn patience! I'm laughing, of course, just as I always do when I tell a collosal fib. Lovely post. Much success to you.

  4. Thanks Vonnie.

    Rachel, Camel Press is a small press in Seattle, WA. They've been great to work with and very receptive to suggestions. They publish genre fiction: romance, mystery/suspense, science fiction, horror. You can find more information on their website: