Three bodies. Two liars. One killer.
by Nikki Trionfo
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
My Rating: 5 stars
Synopsis: An explosion in the middle of a peach orchard kills Salem’s sister during a labor strike, and police call it an accident. Salem wants to prove her sister was murdered for supporting the union despite being the daughter of a grower. Her biggest clue is knowing her sister hired a cunning gang banger named Cordero to protect union workers. The fellow Verona High student is signed up to put a JFK conspiracy on mock trial, alongside Salem, but refuses to share what he knows. The more secrets Salem discovers other mock trial participants have regarding her sister’s death, the fewer people she can trust in unraveling the real-life conspiracy. (Amazon)
I loved this book. I started it with a wary eye because, well, murder. Murder always equals intense and scary. But I literally could not put the book down. I thought the intrigue and pacing were great. The author, Nikki, plays on fears most of us experience, so I totally connected with Salem. And I loved Cordero. I mean, I don’t think you can read the book and not love him. I enjoyed it so much I had to read the whole thing in a day.
Interview with author Nikki Trionfo:
Me: Okay, lets start with a few fun questions. If Salem and Cordero were ice cream flavors, which would they be?
Nikki: Salem would be half a cup of vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries, two bananas and hazelnut granola. No sauce. Just clean, wholesome fuel for running.
Cordero is Mocha Almond Extra Smooth. Dark pleasure that melts slowly in your mouth.
Me: Yes please! I need a cold stone now. Ok, next: If Salem and Cordero danced together to a song, which would it be?
Nikki: Coming from a troubled childhood, Cordero protects himself with a tough exterior and the ability to hide his emotions. But falling in love hard is part of his world-view. Between him and Salem, he’s the romantic, no question. After the shocking discovery that Salem only knows how to rock back and forth to slow songs, he would teach her how to hold her frame steady and close to him while joining hands. He’d pick a romantic ballad with an urban beat like Despacito by Luis Fonsi. I have a whole playlist of other songs for Shatter if anyone wants background music for each chapter. A handful are in Spanish when the chapter is mostly about Cordero’s story.
Me: I love Cordero. And I love that answer. *swoon* Okay, last question: If Salem and Cordero each went to the library, which books would they choose?
Nikki: Salem loves Hunger Games, 13 Reasons Why, anything by John Green and loathes Twilight and all paranormal romance. Not because she had read any, but because the swoony fans are everything she does not want to be. (For the record, AddyDay is a huge paranormal fan.)
Cordero–something nonfiction for sure. Something that might help him get what he wants out of life. There is Power in a Union by Philip Dray might catch his eye. Cordero likes power. 🙂
“Salem would be half a cup of vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries, two bananas and hazelnut granola. No sauce. Just clean, wholesome fuel for running. Cordero is Mocha Almond Extra Smooth. Dark pleasure that melts slowly in your mouth.”
Me: Mystery is such a difficult genre to write. To pull off a good mystery the pacing, the red herring, the motive, and the characters all have to be so believable. Why did you pick mystery?
Nikki: High stake, which is why I wrote a mystery that centered on a murder, and even more specifically, a murder where the victim is a beloved sister. I like caring desperately for justice. It keeps the mood tense. You don’t want your suspense mystery ever reading like a Scooby Do episode! Ever! In Shatter, not only are there killers, and a recent tragedy, but the main character, Salem, also has to grapple with the possibility that the sister she idolized had a dark streak to her personality. Salem wants to be blind to that possibility, but also wants to find justice, which means confronting all evidence head on. Conflicting emotions like that make the story real to me. It also made gathering a playlist for Shatter really fun. My thirteen-year-old and I really got passionate about which songs would be best for the middle chase scenes.
Me: Books that include conspiracies can be so much fun to read. I love that you never know which characters to trust. What are some books you’ve read that you thought pulled off the conspiracy element really well?
Nikki: Veronica Mars! Double exclamation point!! Okay, but that’s not a book. It’s a TV show that I love with the kind of passion that makes a full-grown woman look like a loser. Totally worth it. I have to keep Veronica Mars as my response because no conspiracy books are popping easily to mind. Plus, did I mention I love it?
Me: Since this is your debut novel, was there anything about your journey to publication that surprised you?
Nikki: OMG IT TOOK SO LONG AND WAS SO EMOTIONAL. I will grace you with only sparse details. Shatter won one prestigious manuscript contest out of 400 entries only to not make an online contest accepting 25 of 50 applicants THE SAME DAY. Over a year, I got 34 full requests from agents, only to hear back 17 bitter times that I had a no. Got an agent and celebrated. Did four round of editing with him over the course of a year. Went on submission for a year and got my manuscript passed around as Scholastic. Got a no. Then my agent broke up with me because he didn’t like my writing anymore, or maybe he was clearing out his YA clients because YA was lulling, or maybe he woke up with a cold with only symptom- a need to break up with me. (We’re “still friends.” Literally. We are Facebook friends, okay?” Then I submitted to small presses with Indie as my real plan (see: cannot get hopes up again; incapable) and got two offers within two weeks. The up-and-down emotions don’t really stop with publication, what with varying reviews and marketing plans can bust out of just go bust. These days, though, I get to have the quiet calm of knowing that not matter what, I’ll always be a published author. I’m very happy.
“Falling in love hard is part of his world-view. Between him and Salem, he’s the romantic, no question.”
Me: Last question, can you tell us what you are working on now?
Nikki: The truth is that I have nothing in the works with Cedar Fort (publisher), because Shatter’s sales numbers will dictate everything. But I have a “comedic mystery of romantic proportions.” Haha! I’m dying to show the world. It’s like Austenland set inside a Spanish telenovela. It’s called My True Train Telenovela. In a few months, I’ll probably pitch it. Wish me luck! Here’s the blurb:
Wanting to find her Argentinian roots, sixteen-year-old Zoya watches so many Spanish telenovelas that she falls in love with teen actor/singer Emilia Mirazza. She thinks her dreams have come true when she scores a trip aboard the train on which his band will tour the U.S. When a saboteur strikes Emilio, though, members of his fan club convict Zoya of the crime! In order to prove real love exist, Zoya must escape the detective’s son, Felix, board the train as a stowaway, and save Emilio’s career by sleuthing out the real villian–all before Felix’es romantic lure ruins Zoya’s perfect affection for her idol forever.
Me: Ack! I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for letting me read your book and interview you. Good luck with your sales!
Want to read SHATTER by Nikki Trionfo? Buy it HERE!