Monday, July 13, 2015



When the septuagenarian women of the Summer Ridge Bridge Club gather in secret late one July night, their goal is to check #10 off Joy’s bucket list (#10 Go Skinny Dipping). But as Francine observes, the jittery members seem more obsessed with body issues and elaborate preparations than actually stripping down and getting in the pool. A pungent smell emanating from the pool shed leads them to open it and a dead body flops out, practically an answered prayer for Charlotte and her bucket list (#1 Solve a Murder Mystery). But before Charlotte and Francine can discover who really killed the dead man, they must negotiate neighborhood tours of the crime scene, press coverage of their skinny dipping, warnings from the Homeowner’s Association about keeping dead bodies, a disastrous appearance on Good Morning America, media offers sought by a hungry publicist, and a clever killer determined to frame the husband of one of their friends.

The father/daughter writing team of Tony Perona and Liz Dombrosky

Liz and Tony, where's home for both of you?

Liz: Home, for me, is in Warsaw, Indiana. We have a cute 100-year-old house (full of lots of projects) that I share with my husband, Tim, and our two kids.

Tony: Home, for me, is Plainfield, Indiana. My wife Debbie and I still live in the house we bought in 1982, the year after we were married. We’ve raised our two daughters here and built our life here. The house has seen an addition and a remodel, but we still live here and hope to continue to do so well into our retirement.

So from that answer, we now know that Liz grew up in Plainfield. Where did you grow up, Tony?

I grew up in Speedway, Indiana, about two blocks from the Indianapolis 500 track. Though I’m not a true racing fan, I do enjoy a lot of the fanfare and hoopla surrounding the 500. The first story about Francine and Charlotte, the two main characters of the Bucket List series, came about because I was asked to be part of an anthology in which all of the stories revolved around the race. The book was Racing Can Be Murder, and my story, “The Land Grab” takes place in a house across the street from the track. Charlotte and Francine find the body of Charlotte’s uncle in the house, and though the police think he died of natural causes, Charlotte believes he was murdered and proceeds to prove it. That became the genesis of this series, which I’m pleased to say Liz has become a part of.

What’s your favorite memory? 
Liz: My parents took us on family vacations most summers. These trips usually involved LOTS of time in the car, but we got to see many amazing landmarks all over the United States. My sister and I would complain and whine sometimes, but I’m really glad that we got to experience so many things. I hope that I can do that for my kids when they get older.

What do you love about where you live? 

Liz: I love the summer. Our town is full of lakes, parks, bike trails, and lots of things to do outside. Almost every weekend there is a festival to check out or a concert in the park to enjoy with friends.

What makes you happy? 
Liz: Spending time with my family. We moved about 3 hours away from where I grew up, and I look so forward to visiting them and having them come visit us.

Tony: I completely agree with Liz. This past Father’s Day both of my daughters and their families were able to come to our house and celebrate. It was truly a wonderful day!

What makes you scared?
Liz: Still storms. I’ve been afraid of them since I was tiny. I remember sleeping on my parents’ floor because I was so scared, and I guess I thought it was safer in there than my room. Obviously I don’t do that anymore, but just this week we were under a tornado watch, and instead of sleeping (which is a hot commodity at our house with a newborn), I was trying to set up text alerts just incase anything rolled through during the night.

Elizabeth is a stay-at-home-mom (the hardest but most rewarding job in the world, if you ask me). Tony, do you have another job outside of writing?
Tony: I have had a variety of jobs outside of writing books. I was the Public Relations and Advertising Manager for a division of General Motors, a stay-at-home dad, and managed my own communications business, Tony Perona Writing. Currently I’m serving as the Interim Town Manager for the Town of Plainfield, Indiana. 

What brings you sheer delight? 
Liz: Watching my kids learn new things. Our littlest just started smiling this week, and I can’t get enough of it!

Those are precious times. What’s your favorite line from a book?  
Liz: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.” -Dr. Suess, The Lorax  (The elementary school teacher in me can’t resist Dr. Suess.)

Ditto! Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 
Tony: Francine is a lot like my mom, Frances. She died from cancer when Liz was only 4 years old. Writing in her voice is a real joy for me because I get to remember her again. She always saw the best in people, which is how Francine is able to cope with Charlotte’s wilder side. Charlotte is a lot like my Grandma Bonte, who was my mom’s mother. She was quite a character. She cheated at cards, for example. Playing euchre with her was hilarious. If she was partners with her sister, my great-Aunt Annie, there was a lot of table talk we couldn’t understand because they could both fluent in Slavish. They also had elaborate hand signals.

Do you have a routine for writing?
Tony: Because I work during the day — I serve in town government and have a lot of evening meetings as well — morning is the only reliable time I have for writing, so I get up between 5 and 5:15 most every morning to write. I also try to fit in time during the weekends to write.

As a new mother, I'm assuming Liz writes whenever and wherever she can! Tony, where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Tony: If I didn’t have to work — and retirement is looking better and better - I love to write at Starbucks. Nothing works better for me than having a strong cup of coffee by my side and my Microsoft Surface in front of me and the bustle of busy people around me that forces me to block everything else out. I also enjoy writing at my local Panera Bread. Morning is always my best time to write. I feel like I’m at my best creatively.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
Tony: This is going to sound odd to mystery readers, I think, but killing a character off is always tough. It’s less difficult if it’s a bad guy, but it’s never easy. I remember it took me two weeks to recover from killing off a character in my first novel, Second Advent, part of my Nick Bertetto mystery series. And I had tears in my eyes when I wrote a couple of chapters in Saintly Remains when Nick is dealing with the death of a pet.

You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

Liz: I’d be Hermione Granger. She’s such a strong female character, full of brains and wit. She’s a quick thinker, able to solve problems, and drops everything to help her friends. Not to mention, she’s a witch and gets to do all of the awesome stuff that comes along with that!

You’re published by Midnight Ink. How did you find them and how long did your query process take?
Tony: I want to mention this, because I want to give hope to writers who are trying to get published traditionally. When I was first trying to get published, I made a list of agents with another writer friend, and we developed a methodology for how we would send out five queries at a time and when we got three back we would send out another five. Although I would from time to time get a response from an agent asking for sample chapters, it took a year and a half before I got an agent to represent me, and I was down to #36 on my list. It took another year and a half before that agent placed the book with Five Star Publishing. The agent and I parted ways before I started this new series, and despite having been published before, it took three years of querying publishers and agents before Murder on the Bucket List landed at Midnight Ink. That happened without an agent, although a good friend provided the introduction to the editor at Midnight Ink.

And the all-important question: What are you working on now?
Tony: Liz and I are working on book #3 in the Bucket List series. We just finished up book #2 and sent it in to the publisher.


Elizabeth Perona is the father/daughter writing team of Tony Perona and Liz Dombrosky. Tony is the author of the Nick Bertetto mystery series, the standalone thriller The Final Mayan Prophecy (with Paul Skorich), and co-editor and contributor to the anthologies Racing Can Be Murder and Hoosier Hoops & Hijinks. Tony is a member of Mystery Writers of America and has served the organization as a member of the Board of Directors and as Treasurer. He is also a member of Sisters-in-Crime.

Liz Dombrosky graduated from Ball State University in the Honors College with a degree in teaching. She is currently a stay-at-home mom. Murder on the Bucket List is her first novel.

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