Joanne Guidoccio: Living Vicariously Through My Protagonist

Today mystery author Joanne Guidoccio is my guest. Joanne recently published Too Many Women in the Room and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves an intriguing puzzle and great food (recipes are a bonus!).

Without further ado, here’s Joanne:

In the spring of 2001, I enrolled in the Career Development Practitioner Program at Conestoga College in nearby Kitchener, Ontario. After meeting with the course director, I sat down and meticulously planned the next seven years of my life.

I would continue teaching full-time during the day and take one online course each trimester. I even selected the order so that the more demanding courses would be taken during the summer months. Upon completion of the program, I would spend two summers interning in preparation for retirement and the launch of ReCareering, a counseling practice that would cater to boomers.

That was the fantasy.

The reality was very different.

While the first trimester went smoothly, I encountered several life challenges that derailed my “Second Act” plans. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, entered a nursing home, and died shortly afterward; my mother’s Parkinson’s disease worsened; I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and underwent ten months of treatment. Afterward, I developed hypothyroidism and had three additional cancer scares.

Frustrated and discouraged, I met with the course director. His advice still resonates with me: “Sometimes life happens and you just have to deal with it. But stay the course and complete the journey.”

I managed to complete the CDP program in six years (one year later than planned). While undergoing chemotherapy I started reading cozy mysteries, devouring several books a week. Halfway through my cancer year, I came up with a storyline for my own cozy: What if a teacher-turned-lottery winner returns to her hometown in Northern Ontario, only to find herself the primary suspect in the murders of four blondes. Can she prove her innocence and solve this case before it’s too late?

I identified strongly with the teacher-turned-lottery winner (Gilda Greco). So much so, that I used the first person POV. Our similarities…Italian Canadian, born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, mathematics teachers, career development practitioners, yoga enthusiasts, non-foodies, and ambiverts (extraverted introverts).

Two major differences: Gilda won a $19 million lottery (I’m still hoping). Gilda also realized my “Second Act” dream and opened the first ReCareering office in Northern Ontario.


In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.


The Wild Rose Press released A Season for Killing Blondes in June 2015. This past May, Book 2 (Too Many Women in the Room) was released. Book 3 (A Different Kind of Reunion) will be released in the spring of 2018.

Blurb for Too Many Women in the Room

When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?


Carlo’s hand caressed my thigh. More sex. The man could be insatiable. And it had been almost two weeks since our last romp. We started to kiss and then his cell phone vibrated.

Carlo groaned as he leaned over and picked up the phone. He sat up, his back to me. “What’s happened?” he barked. Carlo’s shoulders tensed. A long sigh and then his terse words. “Clear the perimeter, stat.”

Clear the perimeter. My heart beat faster as I recalled the last time I had heard those dreaded words. It could mean only one thing. Another murder. Two murders in less than twenty-hours. What were the chances of that happening in Sudbury? At the Christmas party, the police chief had bragged about one of the lowest murder rates in Canada during the past twelve months.

I swallowed hard. “What’s wrong?”

Carlo turned and gave me a long glance. “Andrew Frattini was found dead in the alleyway behind the ReCareering office.”

The nightmare couldn’t be starting again. This time with different players but still with the same intent. To pin the murder on me. But that strategy wouldn’t work. I had an iron-clad alibi no one could refute.

Carlo dressed quickly. He picked up his phone and then turned toward me. “Stay clear of this, Gilda.”

“How can I ignore it?” I said as I felt myself tearing up. “Someone’s trying to frame me again.”

He leaned over and kissed me. “Well, they didn’t succeed, did they?”

Book Trailer

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Joanne Guidoccio: Living Vicariously Through My Protagonist — 21 Comments

  1. Life comes with surprises, not all of them pleasant. It takes strength to meet these challenges and your story is an example that it can be done. Congratulations on your new or, should I say, renewed, life.

  2. You’ve got what I call stickability. You continued with your plan when many others would’ve given up. I’ve seen this book several other places. It’s got a title and story line that hooks. I understand identifying with your character. I think it makes writing the story easier.

    • Hi Linda, I agree! Identifying with Gilda and using the first-person POV makes writing easier. When stuck, I simply ask: What would I do in this situation? Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

  3. Good for you Joanne – you have been through so much. Those who have encountered obstacles and illness and hardship make good authors, they have empathy and understanding. Living vicariously through their protagonists is a great escapism, it makes the long, hard real-life journey a bit lighter.

    • Good to see you here, Janice. During my cancer journey, I used books to escape into other worlds. Inserting bits of myself into the Gilda Greco series also helps me cope. 🙂

  4. When authors use their life experiences in their stories, it lends a note of authenticity. Joanne has used her background very effectively.

  5. Wonderful and congratulations Joanne! I’ve added the book to that mountainous TBR list, some books manage to bump themselves up in the que, and look forward to sharing in the tales of a fellow survivor. Best to you and my love to your beautiful Country.

  6. This is the second post I’ve read today about how life gets in the way of plans to show us how strong we are. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.

    The book sounds fabulous. I’m adding it to my TBR. Thanks for introducing me to a new-to-me author, Maggie!

  7. What a motivational blog post, Joanne. There’s nothing better than the chance for a “second” act. Your books sound great. I can’t wait to read them.

  8. “But stay the course and complete the journey.” I love this line! What great advice. And through your own journey, Joanne, you found inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing. Wishing you all the best!