Elizabeth Barone is an American novelist. She writes contemporary New Adult romance and suspense, starring sassy belles who chose a different path in life. She is the author of over a dozen books, including The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos and the South of Forever series.
Elizabeth lives in Waterbury, Connecticut with her husband, the artist Michael Campbell.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a broken and crumbling city—what was once the brass capital of the world. We've lost many manufacturing companies that were once our main economy. People here are pretty poor, but have come up with some interesting ways to survive. You can get a job in one of the rotating stores or collect scrap metal. Some went to college and moved away to pursue more lucrative careers. Many commute to New York or Hartford.
Like New York, Waterbury is separated into little boroughs. There's Town Plot, one of few remaining nice neighborhoods, originally mostly Italian; Hopeville, named for the elementary school but now full of biker gangs and drug dealers; and Brooklyn, the line of houses that go down Congress Avenue. Many of my stories take place in these neighborhoods. I'd rather write about someone trying to make it out of the bottom than someone living comfortably in, say, the Overlook.
That struggle is what feels more authentic to me. It's the victory of having accomplished something, despite the odds, that breathes life into my characters.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The streets of my city are flavored with Spanish love ballads and the spicy scent of food cooking. More and more young people don't want to learn Spanish, though. My great-grandmother has forgotten much of the Italian she once spoke, and no one else in my family learned. The more American we become, the more of our own culture we lose. As soon as I realized this, it shocked me. That blow created Savannah, a feisty twenty-something-year-old Boricua. When she meets Max, she can't understand why he doesn't speak Spanish, too. "It's your heritage," she tells him in dismay. She upends his life.
The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos is also a love letter to single dads. Max is raising his daughter while going to college and working full-time. He's determined to make a better life for his daughter, even if it means giving up his passion: music. Savannah recognizes this and brings him back to life.
It's a love story, but it's also an exploration of my generation.
This was a fun read, with an intriguing and unique plot. I worried that it might be the typical, boring poli-thriller that I usually stay away from, but QUEENS ARE WILD dragged me in right away and kept me reading with its excellent pacing and innovative storyline.
My only complaint is the occasional surplus of exposition—which is forgivable, though, because of the excellent pacing. I can't wait to see what Chaucer comes up with next.