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Welcome back to my Author Spotlight series! I have the honor and privilege of introducing you to New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kerri Maniscalco! As a YA enthusiast, I grew up reading her novels and fangirled over her infamous “Stalking Jack the Ripper” series.

Raised in a book aficionado family, Maniscalco credits her grandmother with fostering her imagination and taught the importance of always being able to take an adventure between the pages of a book. She took an interest in forensics as a teen thanks to her father’s anatomy books and sculptures in his office.

When she’s not busy writing, one of Maniscalco’s favorite places to be is in the kitchen cooking recipes her grandmother passed on and creating new ones. She also loves to visit her sister’s store, Dogwood Lane Boutique, who continues to support “Stalking Jack the Ripper” series by selling exclusive merchandise.   

Known for growing up in a semi-haunted house outside New York City, Maniscalco is an American young adult author whose newest young adult fantasy series, “Kingdom of the Wicked.” The series follows Emilia, a witch, who sets out to find her twin sister’s killer with the help of Wrath, one of the Wicked Princes of Hell, who’s set out to find a bride for his master. 

Emilia has been taught since childhood that when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems. The same can be applied to Maniscalco’s writing and is expected in the conclusion set to release Sept. 27, “Kingdom of the Feared.” Still in shock that her twin sister is alive, Emilia is drawn to the rival demon court when a high-ranking member of House Greed is assassinated. Evidence points to Vittoria, her supposedly dead now alive twin sister, as the murderer and she’s declared an enemy within the Seven Circles of Hell. Emilia will do anything to solve this new murder mystery and find out who her sister really is, but it might end up costing her heart. 

What made you decide to dig deeper into your Sicilian roots for this series?

The [“] Stalking Jack the Ripper [”] series was something I dedicated to my grandmother on my mother’s side. She loved “whodunnits” and I’d just lost her when I sat down to write it, and I knew for my next series I really wanted to write something for the other half of my family—they had a family restaurant and cooking was something I did from the time I was very little with them, so a ton of our family traditions made it onto the page. 

What’s your writing process like? Any advice for aspiring authors?

My deadlines are always really tight, so I plot out major points following the three act story structure and also get the fifteen major story beats down before I begin drafting. Something else I do after I get those beats figured out is I write down scenes on [P]ost-its that excite me i.e., Ballroom scene from Hell. Caught in the act! Crescent Shallows, etc. Then, on days when I don’t feel like working on a particular scene, those post-its act as writing prompts which help me avoid losing any drafting time to the dreaded writer’s block, or even burnout. 

What inspired you to write a supernatural series instead of continuing to write a plausible murder mystery?

The [“] Stalking Jack the Ripper [“] series was intended to be historical that felt paranormal, and I’d always planned to have my next series be paranormal and have the [main character] try to blend into the “real” world. After I wrote [“] Hunting Prince Dracula [”], I really wanted to do a vampire book that was the direct opposite of what Thomas and Audrey Rose had investigated. I actually began drafting what would become the first shades of this series back in 2015 and had to stop when [“] Stalking Jack [”] sold, so it was always in the back of my mind begging to be finished.

You have the choice to eat a traditional Sicilian dinner with one of the seven princes of Hell. What’s on the menu and why, and why did you chose this to dine with this prince?

We would eat ALL the food, obviously! Like a lot of readers, I’d definitely love to sit and have a cannoli with Wrath aka the Cannoli King, but since that’s dessert, I’d have to say I’d go with another recipe featured in [“] Kingdom of the Wicked [”]: Busiate al pesto Trapanese. And while Gluttony would be an absolute blast to sit down to dinner with, I’m going to have to go with Envy. I’d want to pick his brain and try and solve the mystery of what he’s really after.

How is your relationship with your sister compared to Emilia and Vittoria’s?

My sister is my best friend and I adore her! I’m so proud of all she’s accomplished with her boutique and the recent expansion of her small business to include beautiful furniture I’m obsessed with. I think Emilia and Vittoria love each other fiercely and would protect each other no matter what—which is exactly how my sister and I are when it comes to each other.

Eternal gratitude to both Kerri Maniscalco and Cassie Malmo. I would have never thought I’d have this thrilling opportunity of interviewing one of my favorite authors. Authors like Kerri Maniscalco help continue the legacy of fostering imagination and escaping between the pages of a book, as her grandmother once taught her. 

To Cassie Malmo from the Hachette Book Group who offered me this beyond exciting chance to live out my fangirl dream. Thank you again for sending me “The Kingdom of the Wicked” series, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the steamy conclusion! 

Sabrina Blandon is an English American Literature major at NYU's CAS. Her Author Spotlight blog series started at Her Campus Hofstra and features New York Times bestselling authors such as Xiran Jay Zhao and Kerri Maniscalco. She's excited to continue the series at HCNYU! She's a major foodie and loves to explore the city. Follow her on Twitter (@sabrina_blandon) for all things bookish!
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