Today we sit down for a chat with Louise “Weezy” Napolitani from author John Baird Rogers Mayfield-Napolitani Thriller Series.
What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I grew up in the North End of Boston in the third generation of a family of fishmongers. Thirty or so close relatives, mostly cops, firemen, fishermen. When I went across the bridge to go to MIT, I became the odd person out in my family.
My author described me like this in Fatal Score: “‘Weezy’s a pistol’ was the throwaway line members of her tracker team informally known as the OddBalls used to salve egos she shredded. She certainly didn’t look intimidating. Her face was angular, beautiful in some perspectives, plain in others. In junior high, a growth spurt stretched her to five-foot-eight, and she grew into her nose. ‘Weezy’ came along with her younger brother’s first words and stuck because ‘Louise Napolitani’ was too long and too formal to fit her. She was slender to the point that Adam Ambrosio, the rookie member of the OddBalls, said with a grin, ‘Look at her sideways, all’s you get is T&A.’
Her Aunt Tonia, speaking in a stage whisper to Weezy’s mother, had said, ‘Beautiful. She would be byootiful if she’d only take care of herself.’ Taking care of herself would mean styling her hair, wearing lipstick to highlight her full lips, and amending her already lush eyelashes. Instead, Weezy wore whatever was on top of the clothes pile in the morning, and details like combing her chestnut mop usually didn’t make her priority list.”
I’m not sure that’s entirely fair. My best friend, Maddie, straightened me out a bit on the fashion bit (see below), and I now find that I enjoy making myself pretty for Joe.
What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I guess I have to say honesty. That’s really an offshoot of efficiency and mathematical elegance—honesty is always the most efficient solution. if you don’t lie, you don’t have to remember how to cover your butt. True, it gets me in trouble sometimes. I see stuff other people might eventually figure out, usually before they do, and sometimes I blurt it out and offend them.
What do you like least about yourself?
The blurting it out thing. And the fact I know I relate better to logical constructs than human beings.
What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
So far, the main thing is he made me act like a lady in Skins and Bone. See “Maddie,” below. The next book, and the one that follows it has some pretty awful stuff, but it would be a spoiler to tell.
Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I want him to make Joe stronger, more interesting. See, when he started writing, Joe was the sole protagonist in the series. I think the author was writing himself, and he (Joe) was proudly ordinary. But ordinary doesn’t make for exciting plot points. So, as I’ve come to see the beauty of an ordinary guy, I’ve become a bit impatient about him wearing that ‘ordinary guy’ thing like a talisman. I mean, geez, he was 99.7th percentile in problem solving ability on that test the fancy investment bank gave him. He told someone a while ago that he was intimidated by me sometimes. So, okay, I do score higher than he does on that kind of test, but he’s got a lot more common sense than I do.
What is your greatest fear?
Hard to step back five years to Skins and Bone. My author told me not to do spoilers, but I have to say that fears I had never imagined back at good old MIT are coming for me. The PTSD symptoms, the … damnit, I didn’t want to say that. Greatest fear? Losing Joe.
What makes you happy?
An elegant algorithm and dropping the hammer on some blackhat hacker out to hurt ordinary folks. The look in Joe’s eyes that lets me know I’m beautiful.
If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I guess I’d write more about Joe and my feelings about him. I’m new to having a deep relationship, and the events in our story together keep ripping along and threatening to rip us apart. Doesn’t give enough time for reflection.
Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
In this book, my wet-behind-the-ears boss and the government bureaucracy that tells me I should stay away from my hacker friends.
Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Maddie. She’s my best buddy at work, and she’s good at all the human relations stuff that makes me uncomfortable. And ohmigod she knows how to be female. For instance, in Skins and Bone Joe Mayfield gets a job in a fancy New York investment bank and invites me to one of their parties. I don’t know how to act, what to wear, so I blurted out to Maddie, “I’m going to New York to see Joe Mayfield. I have to go to some sort of party with the people he works for. He tells me outward appearances are important to them. He said it apologetically, but I know he’s scared I’ll turn up in hiking boots or something. I don’t know what to wear.”
Maddie drew herself up and slipped into her best deep south accent, “Well, y’all came to the right gal. I been bein’ primped an’ propered for this kind of challenge since I was a young thing.”
She pursed her lips. “First off, it’s going to be pretty easy. You’re a pretty woman, and being as thin as you are gives you lots of options.”
She glanced down at her own more substantial figure. “See, the best compliment I’ve gotten recently from a gentleman was that I have a lush body. ’Course, he was sayin’ lush but lookin’ lust. I have to be careful about which of my attributes to accentuate. If I go too low-cut, I can’t get most guys to squeeze out a conversation. You, on the other hand, have a lot of positives to pick from.”
She cocked her head at Weezy and grimaced, “Well, you’ll have to worry more than you do now—I mean, bright green socks and a worn-out sweatshirt? You are really trying to fly under the fashion radar, aren’t you?”
Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
You can find more about him and his books at http://johnbairdrogers.com.
What's next for you?
My author has put me in two books after this one. Not too much of a spoiler to say that Joe and I became a lot closer. And some things happen that cut so deeply that I know I’m a different person today than that sassy, confident woman readers saw in Fatal Score and Skins and Bone. Now he’s writing a fifth book (and I’m sweating bullets about what’s happening in the US of A … and what will happen to Joe and me.)
Skins and Bone
A Mayfield-Napolitani Thriller
In the world of finance, if you can foresee the worst-case scenario, you can protect against it. If you can make the worst case happen, you can profit enormously. Skins and Bone draws Joe Mayfield and Louise (Weezy) Napolitani into a world of high finance, European elegance, and murder. Joe lands his dream job at the respected investment bank ZCG, a chance to fly with the finance eagles—and be a train ride away from Weezy, his brilliant lover.
Weezy is chief tracker for the national firewall set up shortly after CyberWar I. She’s also a member of a group of dark-web hackers. ZCG uses complex financial derivatives called ‘Skins’ to craft protection for firms working in politically unstable regions. Strangely, disaster seems to follow creation of Skins, and someone is raking in millions. Joe, curious, begins to dig. Weezy enlists a hacker friend to help. He dies in an “accident.” Then Joe is almost killed in a “random” mugging. Undaunted, Joe and Weezy dig further. A financial conference in Vienna and a sumptuous cruise down the Danube to Budapest provide the opportunity for the man making the millions to eliminate his Joe and Weezy problem.