A Character Interview with Peri from SHOW UP DEAD plus a conversation with author Lisa Shiroff!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview.  These character interviews, now and in the future, should prove to be very enlightening for all of us. 
We have the pleasure of meeting Peri Milano, a character from Show Up Dead:  A Sweet Murder from the City of Brotherly Love. We'll get a chance to talk to the author, Lisa Shiroff, in a bit, but now we have on the stage...Peri!


Marie Lavender:  Hello, Peri.  Please have a seat.
Character Peri Milano:  Thank you.  It's a pleasure to be here.
Marie:  We're going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Peri:  Sure.
Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?  

Peri: I am a Lifestyle Manager – it’s a mixture of a personal concierge, a personal assistant and a personal party planner. At times I’m also a personal shopper, personal chef and for one client I’ve even been a personal ad placer. Yes, I’m good at what I do, damn good in fact. And yes, I do like it. At least I think I do. It’s the only job I’ve ever had, so I’ve nothing else to compare it to. But I really don’t complain about it much, so I guess that means I like it just fine. Honestly, though, I’m too busy to stop and think about whether or not I like it. Besides, it pays the bills, so what’s not to like?

Marie:  Good point.  So, what is your family like?

Peri:  I have one son. His name is Ezra and he’s 15 (please don’t do the math). He’s a great kid. He’s super bright, something he didn’t inherit from his dad, and super cute, something he did get from his dad. He’s also a Type-1 diabetic, which is something that gives me nightmares, but he handles it very well.

Marie:  All right.  What did your childhood home look like, Peri?
Peri:  People are always surprised to discover what my parents are like. I guess I don’t fit the usual stereotype of a 31-year-old mom of a 15-year-old kid. My dad is a professor Emeritus at a university where he teaches psychology classes and he is a practicing Gestalt therapist from his home office. My mom is a Reiki master, massage therapist, holistic nutritionist and wants to become a private detective, too. I think she has a few other job titles, but trying to keep track of them can be confusing. My parents are the most unconditionally loving and accepting people on the planet. It used to make me nuts as a child – my sister and I would practically beg for structure and discipline, but my parents thought it was more emotionally healthy for us to explore the world with little interference from them. Hence, I had a kid when I was 16. That’s when I moved out, too. I moved in with my grandmother, my father’s mother. I thought she’d be a better parental role model then my parents were. My parents thought it was a wonderful idea and totally supported me as they do with every choice I ever make. 
Oh, but wait! You asked about my childhood home, right? It’s this old Philadelphia townhouse mansion, built before the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, the National Historic Register can’t accept it because my mother has rather unconventional ideas when it comes to decorating and maintaining a house. I still live in my grandmother’s home. She passed away just a few years ago and left it to me in her will. It’s a tiny row home built in the 1940s.  
Marie:  So, do you have any hobbies?  What do you enjoy doing? 
Peri:  I work all the time, so, no, I don’t really have any hobbies. However, I do love to bake. It’s something I learned from my grandmother, and truth be told, her baking was one of the reasons I moved in with her. My mom is big on what she calls “healthy” foods and what I call barely edible. My grandmother was big on tasty foods.  
Marie:  LOL.  My grandmother was the same way.  Peri, I'm going to ask you some more serious questions now.

What is your greatest dream?
Peri:  Hmm...the mom in me says my biggest wish is for a cure for Type 1 diabetes. But the rest of me keeps wanting to add: "Oh yeah, and if someone could invent a way to keep my hair the blonde color of my youth without having to pay through the nose for it, that would be nice, too."
Marie:  Okay.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you? 
Peri: Well rested and rich. And the answer to that second question: my job and my kid’s health.


Marie:  Who was your first love?

Peri:  Rodney McClane.  (Sigh.) We were supposed to go to our sophomore prom together in high school. But he dumped me two days before it so he could go with Sonia Fawcett. My mom insisted I go to the dance anyway. I did. That’s when I met up with Todd, my son’s father, and got even with Rodney.  

Marie:  Hmm...well, that answers that question.  So, what's the most terrible thing that ever happened to you? 

Peri: When my son went into something called Diabetic Ketosis Acidosis and almost died. It was how we discovered he was a Type 1 Diabetic. He was eleven when it happened and spent a week in the ICU at the children’s hospital. 

Marie:  Oh, no.  Sorry to hear that.  I have heard of that condition.  

Let's try something else, Peri.

What was your dream growing up?  Did you achieve that dream?  If so, in what ways was it not what you expected?  If you never achieved the dream, why not?

Peri: I wanted to be a TV mom. I didn’t want to be on TV, I just wanted to be like the moms on TV. They had professional jobs and good-looking husbands. They dressed fashionably. They always had good advice and they usually had real cookies in the cookie jar. And I guess I did get that, in a way. The difference is I don’t just work nine-to-five at an office somewhere. I work all the time and my office is my dining room. I never married and I dress as nicely as my budget will allow. Sometimes, though, I’m quite chic – many of my clients give me their hand-me-downs because they “can’t” wear things more than once. And I do my best to always have real cookies in the cookie jar.

Marie: So, who is your role model?

Peri: My grandmother. She taught me how to be organized, how to cook, how to be a mom and how to get over mistakes. And, I hate to admit it, but my mom is another role model. I love how she’s completely unafraid to be as crazy as she wants to be. She is never inhibited, which, granted, sometimes I think she should be, but I love that she has this personal power about her that makes her love herself and her life with extreme passion regardless of what anybody else thinks about her.

Marie:  That is definitely something to admire.  Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike? 

Peri: A couple of my clients. Most of them are really nice and likeable, but some are, well, not the greatest human beings to put it as diplomatically as I possibly can. I work for the super wealthy, almost-famous, elite of Philadelphia. Sometimes I’m amazed at how shallow a few of them can be and how out-of-touch they are with the rest of society. But, like I said, it’s only a few of them, and I’m always grateful when they pay me.

Marie:  Hmm...I can imagine. So, what is your deepest desire, Peri?

Peri: That whole diabetes cure and permanently blonde hair thing. I’m sure I have a few others and maybe if I had more free time, I’d have even deeper ones. But, seriously, I barely have time to sleep.

Marie:  Oh, I know what that's like! 

So...what is your greatest fear? 

Peri: That my son will slip into a low blood sugar coma in the middle of the night.
Marie:  Well, I can't blame you for fearing that!  I would too. (Smiles reassuringly and pats Peri's hand.)  
Unfortunately, that's the buzzer telling me we're short on time. I want to thank you for visiting us today, Peri. 

Peri: You’re welcome. It was kind of you to interview me. I know I have a tendency to babble. My mom says that’s because I drink too much coffee, but my dad says it’s part of my inner bubbly personality trying to get out. He wishes I’d express it more freely. I think I just talk because I just talk, you know? Anyway, thanks so much for having me! I wish I had brought some cookies for you.

Marie:  You're very welcome.  Maybe next time, hmm?  I love cookies!  That reminds me.  Readers, here is one of Peri's cookie recipes.  


It was fun getting to know you, Peri.  (Waves at her guest as she heads off the stage.)
  Now, let's shift over and get the perspective of the author.  We have Lisa Shiroff on the stage today!  Hi!

Author Lisa Shiroff:  Hi, so nice to be here.
Marie:  We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Peri.  Quite an interesting character.  

Lisa:  I’m glad you enjoyed her. I hope she let you get a word in every now and then.

Marie:   (LOL.)  She behaved accordingly.  Can you tell us a little about her?

Lisa:  Peri's a lot of fun - unintentionally.  She's a hard-working single mom, who has a very big heart, so big she wants to take care of everything for everyone.  She's also a nosy control freak who really shouldn't drink so much coffee.

Marie:  (Giggles.)  I love it!  So, what are your character's greatest strengths?

Lisa:  Let’s see...she’s very creative, very organized, and very perceptive.  

Marie:  What are her greatest weaknesses?

Lisa:  Remember a few minutes ago when I mentioned she wants to take care of everything for everyone? Well, while that sounds nice, but it’s really her greatest weakness. She can be a rather overbearing and controlling busybody, particularly with the people she’s closest to. And, by paying so much attention to the needs of others, she tends to not have any time to tend to her own.

Marie:  I see.  What are some of her favorite foods?

Lisa:  Cookies. Cookies made with real sugar, real flour and real butter.

Marie:  Ooh...you just had to say that, didn't you?  LOL.  Well, chocolate is mine, and dessert is a weakness for me.  As you can imagine, my fiance and I do a lot of cooking when we're together.  (Winks.)
So, what's a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?  
Lisa:  She can be a really fun person to be around – when she’s not trying to control everyone around her.  
Marie:  Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Lisa:  I hope they like her. I hope they can empathize with her plight as a parent, that they can admire her willingness to lend a helping hand, and if nothing else that they enjoy her recipes.  
Oh, yes...that chocolate chip cookie recipe sounds really good!  
Well, now that we have a real taste of Peri, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.   

Marie:  What first gave you the idea for Show Up Dead?

Lisa:  I stumbled across the career of a Lifestyle Manager or Personal Concierge and thought it would be a really cool thing to do. It would give you access to so many juicy tidbits and secrets of people that the possibilities for a story are endless. After mulling it over for a little while, a couple of Peri’s clients “came” to me in my head and then...voila! A story. 
Marie:  That's great!
What is your writing style like?  Are you a pantster or a plotter? 
Lisa:  I tend to pants my plot then I go back in and outline the plot so that it has a proper narrative arc. I think that makes me a hybrid. My stories just come to me and as long as I stay out of their way, they will flow bit by bit until I have them done. They just don’t always flow in a logical manner.
Marie:  Yeah, I do both as well.  

So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers.  Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Show Up Dead or getting it published? 
What would you do differently the next time?
Lisa:  I think because it’s my third book, I didn’t have as many growing pains this time around. Instead, what gave me the biggest challenge was getting the science right. This was the first time I had to deal pretty intensively with a dead body and police procedure and I wanted to get it all right. I don’t want to get into how the person was killed (no spoilers here!) but let’s just say I had to consult a nurse practitioner, a police detective, an apiarian, a transgender specialist, a physics professor and a host of others. It’s surprising every now and then to learn Google doesn’t have all the answers after all.  
Marie:  That's true.  Often we do have to try different avenues when researching.  
Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on Writing in the Modern Age.  
Lisa:  Thank you so very much for having me today. This was great fun. And I do hope you enjoy the book. You can pre-order it now on Amazon. It will be fully on the market on November 17th!
Great!  Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book!  
Here is the blurb for Show Up Dead:  A Sweet Murder from the City of Brotherly Love.
When people call her a control freak, Peri Milano takes it as a compliment. As the preferred go-to special assistant to Philadelphia's rich and almost famous, having everything under control is part of her job description. With the organizational skills of a data processing program, the discretion of the CIA, and the creativity of an Ikea research and design engineer, Peri fulfills whatever whim her customers fancy and finds methods for their madness.
Never has she received a request she couldn't complete nor a problem she couldn't solve.
But then one day she finds the dead body of one of her clients and lands smack in the middle of a murder investigation. While not something that's typically part of her daily work, it's nothing she can't handle.
But when another client receives a blackmail letter, her son's type-1 diabetes nearly kills him and her mother ends up in jail (again), Peri starts to doubt whether anything is truly ever under control. She can't help but wonder just who will be the next to Show Up Dead.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00NZC1SMO  

Publisher website:  http://tasfil.com/

About Lisa Shiroff:

Lisa Shiroff is a comedic fiction writer celebrating the often unnoticed but beautifully bizarre in life. For years, she worked professionally as a corporate freelance writer and graphic designer. Not only can she Photoshop her way into a royal wedding, but she can write a PR piece that will make a cat in a tattered wolf costume sound like a Westminster Dog Show champion. But the struggle to keep her tongue out of her cheek was giving her TMJ symptoms and she decided she'd had enough. It was time she joined the ranks of those intent on using humor to balance out the negatives in the universe. Now she is unleashing her comedic perspective on anyone willing to take the risk to read whatever she writes.

Having spent her formative years in small-town America, Lisa mastered the ability to amuse herself and others with tales about people we all wished lived next door (and some who really did). Now she’s bringing those stories to light in novels with funny characters experiencing sometimes inane circumstances and always finding happy endings (yes, she’s a sucker for them). 

Almost living the American Dream, Lisa lives in south Jersey with her husband, two kids, and a dog. Alas, she has no picket fence.

Author Links:

Twitter:  @LisaShiroff
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/lisashiroff









  1. Peri is intriguing, both her career choice and her influences. I'm dying to se how it works out, so I ordered from Amazon. Can't wait till the 17th! I think i found this through a linked in group. .. my first time clicking on that. . So someone put the right "hook" in the first few words, at least for me.

  2. This is a great idea, it gives readers a chance to know more about the character and the author. My favorite books are the ones where I feel an emotional attachment, this jump starts the process. Peri sounds like an interesting person, someone I could spend time with.

  3. You're right. Peri does seem interesting. Thank you both for stopping by Writing in the Modern Age! :)


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