Welcome to author Ileana Muñoz Renfroe. We’re glad she finally found time to start writing her fun mystery series!
Describe your favorite writing spot or space.
For me, my favorite writing spot is sitting at a café in Paris. That is actually where I first started writing Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mysteries.
Describe your current writing spot or space.
At this moment, since the borders are closed, I enjoy sitting in the backyard listening to my chimes and the birds while I write. They seem to inspire me. When I am not writing outside, I sit in my office. However, I bought myself a lap desk and sometimes I sit in various areas of the house to change the scenery.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
The first thing I do in the morning is check my emails and read and respond, as needed. Then, I go to my Facebook group page Cozy Mystery Village and check the activities. After either posting or commenting, I check the various groups I participate in and either post or comment. Then, it’s off to posting on the different social media outlets. By 8:00 a.m., I’m off to writing for at least an hour. Throughout the day, I follow up with clients, review books on Netgalley, then back to writing. My days are pretty long, but I truly enjoy everything that I do, so it’s never a burden.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I have only written one book, and it took me four months.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Three. I am currently working on Book 2 of Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mysteries. I am also working on Book 1 of Las Cubanitas which is an extension of Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mysteries, and I am working on Book 1 of Candeedo Brewdinkle. Candeedo is a cantankerous old fuddy-duddy who is quite a quirky character. I am also finalizing a cookbook titled Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mysteries Homemade Cuban Recipes which will include recipes from Book 1, some of which will be in Spanish.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it?
No, I do not write under a pseudonym. That being said, I will consider it as I expand into other genres; it would be quite exciting to go through the process of choosing a name.
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
Definitely the characters. As a matter of fact, for Candeedo Brewdinkle, I purchased the character design before I even had the storyline completed. The moment I saw a picture of him the idea popped into my head of the story I would tell and sure enough the ideas behind book 1 have been flowing non-stop.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Writing out the cast of characters is quite fun. Some of the names in A Fashionable Fate are names of family members although by no means are the characters in my book representative of their personalities. Some names I thought were just perfect for specific characters, and others, like Candeedo Brewdinkle, were a combination of relatives and made-up names. One fun thing I did for Book 1 was to ask the members of the Cozy Mystery Village which name they liked better for my Abuela Nana’s familiar. They chose Moro, and that’s the name of the Shiba Inu in the story.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
The most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex is making sure that my description is realistic and believable.
Can you hear your characters talking?
Believe it or not, I speak to my characters every day. Some are more vocal than others such as: Rosa, Nana, Raul (my spirit guide), Las Cubanitas (4 best friends), and of course, Moro, Nana’s familiar. They often guide me to where I need to go and have actually been a great help with future books I am currently writing.
Were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? For how long?
Yes, I had a lot of ideas floating around in my head and would jot them down every time I had a chance. This past April I was stuck in Paris on full lockdown for several months and that is when I decided I needed to get serious and start writing full time.
How much time do you spend on research before starting a book? While writing?
For Book 1, the location, even though fictitious, was based on two real locations, so that helped in my research. For Book 1 of Candeedo Brewdinkle, I am currently doing extensive research on locations and eras, trying to decide where in time to place him.
What kind of research do you do for a book?
I will research characters and their personalities and even look up actual people I could imagine playing the role of that particular character. I also do significant research on the locations, weather, time of year, population, customs, and even era.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
As a writer, I would choose a Shiba Inu. Shibas are extremely intelligent, and they sometimes make this noise that sounds as if they are speaking to you. I even find myself often speaking to both of my shibas, and as of yet, they have not answered me, but they do listen.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That is a good question. The first thing I do before I start my writing is make one of my favorite flavored coffees in my French Press. Then, I choose the music, depending on my mood. Often, I will listen to classical music, salsa music or even Christmas music with the proviso that it must be instrumental, because if not, I have a hard time resisting the temptation of singing along and that can become quite distracting.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Hands down, the best money I spent was hiring an editor. She has been invaluable in helping me make this a book I am proud to say I wrote.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Normally, I would be traveling, and when I am not traveling, I enjoy entertaining and especially organizing themed parties. In that past, some of the most popular events have been High Tea, 1960s Cocktail Hour, and Salsa Night. I also enjoy game nights and dinner parties.
Do you ever Google yourself?
No. Maybe after I have published a few books, I will check to make sure the information out there is correct.
What is your favorite childhood book(s)?
The pop-up books my parents would buy me are some of my favorites. I played with them all the time. Once I really got into reading, my absolute favorite became all of the Nancy Drew stories.
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Do not wait until you are an adult to finally publish your books.
Tell me what is next for you?
Right now, I am finishing Book 2 of the Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mysteries. Rosa has just landed in Paris for a one-year internship with the House of Mather, the most famous couture fashion house in the world. Of course, nothing goes as planned, a dead body emerges, and Rosa gets herself into trouble trying to fend off the French police who think she is the killer.
I am also writing a spin-off of Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mysteries called Las Cubanitas. In this new series, Rosa, along with her best friends, Alexandra, Maruchi, Ellie, and Caridad travel on holiday to exotic locations as amateur sleuths.
Finally, I am almost finished with a brand-new series where the main character, Candeedo Brewdinkle, a cantankerous fuddy-duddy retired spy and puzzle aficionado, is called back into action on a case that will take him across the globe.
For the longest time, Ileana Muñoz-Renfroe wanted to be an author. Almost twenty years later, and after raising two children and owning numerous businesses, she decided to take the plunge. When she is not writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, entertaining, and listening to music.