Monday, October 11, 2021

The Mafia Connection: Guest Post by Lorie Lewis Ham

Lorie Lewis Ham: The Mafia Connection

Roxi Carlucci is the main character in my new book, One of Us, and she comes from a Mafia background. That may seem like an odd choice for a book that leans in the cozy direction, but it actually started many years ago when I first created her cousin, P.I. Stephen Carlucci. 

I created Stephen’s character when I was a teenager and first began trying to write a mystery novel. Sadly, that book never got very far, so Stephen ended up making his debut at a mystery party that my brother and I wrote. Around that same time, I developed a fascination with the Mafia, and I thought it would be fun if Stephen had a Mafia background, which worked well for the mystery party. By the time I finished writing my first mystery, Murder In Four Part Harmony, Stephen had moved from main character to P.I. boyfriend, but the Mafia connection stayed. 

As I researched that side of Stephen’s family, I read everything I could find about the Mafia, including the book that inspired the movie Goodfellas. The thing about the Mafia that drew me in was their sense of honor, despite being ruthless criminals. It was an intriguing dichotomy. I felt like this underlying darkness in Stephen’s background gave his character more depth. He first learned about his family connection when his older brother was killed and his parents decided it was time for him to know the truth. Since then, he has spent his life rebelling against it—first becoming a cop, and then a P.I. 

Move forward in time to the new series featuring Roxi. Roxi’s feelings towards the Mafia are a bit more ambivalent. Her father was on the fringes running the family winery in Paso Robles until he and her mother were killed in a car accident when Roxi was a teenager. Because of that, she never saw much of that world, but she was drawn to its sense of honor. That obsession with honor, and a little bit of a dark side, is all that Roxi carries with her of her Mafia family background. One of Us is the first in this new series, and as it progresses, questions will begin to arise about her parents’ death. Could it possibly have been a Mafia hit instead of an accident? 

For now, that Mafia connection is just in the background, and it helped form who Roxi and Stephen became. Stephen follows Roxi into the new series. Roxi’s obsession with honor comes out now in her love of Camelot. She even has a replica of Excalibur. 

Roxi expresses those feelings in this paragraph from One of Us

I had fallen in love with that whole world when I saw the musical as a kid, and with Lancelot. It wasn’t long until I was reading every King Arthur book I could find. Then I discovered The Once and Future King and that had become my constant companion. The one positive thing the Mafia world had going for it was honor, at least in the old days, and I think that was one of the things that had drawn me to Camelot. The idea of honor had become very important to me—it still was. 

The violence of the Mafia never shows up on the page of my books, but they do influence who my main characters are. 

One of Us: A woman starting over. A gossip website. A handsome playwright with a dark side. A director with an explosive temper. And a murder without a motive. It’s a mystery set in the historic Tower District—Fresno's dining, arts, and entertainment hub.


Lorie Lewis Ham lives in Reedley, California and has been writing ever since she was a child, and publishing since she was 13. For the past 11 years, Lorie has been the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine, and she produces Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where you can now hear an excerpt of her new book One of Us. You can learn more about Lorie and the new book on her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her on Twitter @mysteryrat and Facebook.


Lorie Lewis Ham said...

Thanks so much for having me here!

Lev Raphael said...

Fascinating and wonderful that a teenage project bore fruit years later!

Lorie Lewis Hamh said...

Thanks for stopping by and reading the post. I hadn't thought about it that way but that's true! said...

Lorie nicely describes how writers and their characters develop an enduring relationship that grows and changes over time (like real life!).

Lorie Lewis Ham said...