Q&A with Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

Today I’m joining the blog tour for The Mentor. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?

Since I was a child, I have always liked inventing stories, and over time I realised that writing them was the only way I had to make them “real”. When I was a teenager, I dreamed of working in the cinema industry, as I tend to invent my stories through images. In fact, my first real attempts at writing are in the form of screenplays. But being able to work in the cinema industry was complicated, especially considering that I lived (and still live) in Sardinia. Instead, writing fiction is something that you can do anywhere, as long as you have the right tool. At the time, I used a typewriter, and then I switched to a PC.

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

I have worked in many fields in the past. I have a degree in biological sciences, and for several years after graduation I worked as a university researcher and tutor. Later, I worked as a web designer and coder, but also on music management (!), until I started working as a translator (since 2005), which I still do today.

It may seem strange, but I have a very scientific approach to writing and in this my background as a scientist has come in handy, also because in addition to writing thrillers I am an author of science fiction novels. But even in my thrillers, there are numerous scientific elements. It is no coincidence that the main characters of The Mentor are forensic investigators.

What was your inspiration for The Mentor?

I’m a fan of the CSI franchise, precisely because the investigation in those series was based on scientific elements. The idea of The Mentor comes from the desire to write a crime thriller whose protagonists are forensic investigators, but who are a little more “flawed” than those of the various CSI series, where there is a clear separation between the good and the bad guy, between good and evil. I prefer stories in which the border between the two things is not clear, and they tend to get confused depending on the point of view from which they are observed.

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

My characters are born spontaneously in my mind by mixing traits of my own personality, those of people I know or have known and those of characters from other stories, be they novels, films or TV series. It isn’t a calculated process. They simply show up in my thoughts, often telling me their names and starting to do something that gives rise to the idea of the story I’m going to write.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m somewhere between the two, but perhaps closer to being a plotter. When I have an idea, first of all, I try to define it through a title. In most cases, that will also be the final title. Then I try to transcribe the essential points of the story as they come to mind. I do it in pen on paper. Subsequently (and it can take months or years before I come to this), I write down all my notes on my PC and organise them into a three-act structure. The next step is writing an outline. When I start writing, however, I tend to deviate from the outline, which is then changed along the way, sometimes radically. Also, if it’s a very complex novel (as often happens for sci-fi ones with 200k words or more), I break it into parts and for each part I apply the process used for a single novel.

How did you research The Mentor? Did you enjoy it?

I wrote most of the first draft of The Mentor during the NaNoWriMo in 2012. I had an idea about the story about two years earlier, but I decided to it was time to write it down only in October 2012. So I outlined it into approx. 30 scenes and started writing on 1 November. Of course, at some point I diverted from the outline.

I did most of the research online, especially regarding the locations. I had visited most of them already (I’ve been many times to London), but I used the Street View of Google Maps to see with my eyes where my characters were moving. It was fun!

I also did some research on police forces in London, but then I decided to take some licence here and there, blending what’s real with what’s totally invented.

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?

My favourite author is Thomas Harris. His writing surely influenced my stories concerning the good/evil duality I mentioned before. I like the way he was able to turn a bad guy like Lecter into a hero. His work made me want to explore this theme, even if in a “softer” way. 🙂

Another author that I love is Michael Crichton. I was influenced by his capability of creating a story around a science theme.

Another one of my favourites is Patricia Cornwell. Her books were the first thrillers I read when I still was a teenager. Her work is probably the reason I wanted to try my hand at writing crime thrillers.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

The first one is Patricia Cornwell. She writes crime thrillers, but two of her books have to do with space (Quantum and Spin). I think we’d have a lot to chat about.

The second one is Tim Burton. He’s my favourite director and his films made me a cinema lover.

And the last one is Novak Djokovic. Why? Well, I’m a tennis enthusiast and he’s the greatest tennis player of all. 😉

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

LOL! That’s a tough question. I really have no idea. Probably someone who talks all the time. I may have someone in mind, but I cannot say. ^_^

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of The Mentor?

Ewan McGregor as DCI Eric Shaw and Sophie Turner as Mina.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time? What is it? 🙂

Okay, I love watching tennis on TV or in person and going to the stadium to see a football match of my favourite team (I generally like watching or attending sports events, like figure skating or athletics), chilling on a beach (in summer), doing long walks surrounded by nature, attending a live concert or going to the theatre. Of course, I like reading, but it’s something I do before sleeping, which I can hardly consider spare time.

What is next for you?

I’m currently very busy promoting the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy. The final book (Beyond the Limit) will be published on 31 May, so my focus is on this series until June.

I still have to decide what to do next: write something new in my language or translate a book from my catalogue in English or something completely different I still have to think about.


Book? Hannibal by Thomas Harris
Film? Edward Scissorhands (though I cry every time I watch it).
Band/Singer? Queen
TV show? Battlestar Galactica
Colour? Blue
Place? I can’t decide between any beach here in Sardinia or any mountain in the Dolomites. I can’t be specific, sorry.
Biscuit? Lady fingers (we have a special type of lady fingers in Sardinia that’s called “pistoccus”).


The Mentor is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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