MYSTERY MONDAYS: Sleuthing With Catherine Astolfo

Catherine’s books are gritty, yet portray gorgeous surroundings; they deal with sensitive social issues, but always include love and hope. They’re not thrillers, but rather literary mysteries with loads of character and setting. And justice always prevails.

So let’s see what she has to say about female protagonists today. If you have questions for Catherine, leave a comment below and hear back directly from her.


The Feisty Female Sleuth by Catherine Astolfo

Even before Miss Marple, there was a spirited female, middle-aged and widowed, who partnered up with Scotland Yard to solve crimes (1860’s). Mrs. Paschal was not afraid to eschew the traditional trappings of a lady back then (e.g. crinolines) to chase after the bad guys.

As I began to read mystery novels, and then write my own, I realized very quickly that I love kickass heroines. Whether they are amateur or professional sleuths, I admire their courage, ingenuity and flaunting of social norms.

I started with Nancy Drew, of course, who never obeyed her father, drove a cool car and plunged headlong into danger. I discovered that I like raunchy heroines such as Lisbeth Salander, V.I. Warshawski, Kinsey Milhone, Joanne Kilbourn, Gina Gallo, Kate Garrett, Li Fa-Ling, Bliss Moonbeam Cornwall…oh I could go ON and ON and ON, but I have now covered all the authors who paid me.

As I explored the phenomenon of kickass heroines, I realized that there are a lot of layers to these women. Here is a list of some of my favorite characteristics for our female kickass heroines.

  1. A heroine who has a “distinct self apart from the hero”. Not that some of us don’t want a man or another woman, we just don’t need them.
  2. Our favorite female characters are “universal archetypes and uniquely flawed individuals all at once”.
  3. My favorites display all their traditional feminine qualities, but use these as a source of strength, not weakness (e.g. tenderness, intuition, empathy).

So what female heroine did I create for my four-book mystery series? Emily Taylor, middle-aged principal of a small town elementary school. How does she become kickass? Her love for her husband, her protective qualities, including empathy and nurturing, compel her to act. In every situation, she is drawn to danger only when the people who mean very much to her are threatened. Emily is flawed, but she’s also courageous and smart.

In Sweet Karoline, Anne is a form of anti-heroine. I love her because she’s the opposite of what a reader might expect from a female. She has her reasons for the way she behaves!

Kira Callahan, star of my new novella series, is a retired investigative reporter with a natural affinity for mystery. She may be a senior citizen, but boy can she still kick ass.

A bit about Catherine.

AstolfoHeadshotCatherine Astolfo is an Arthur Ellis winning author of short stories. Five novels and a novella are published by Imajin Books and have been optioned for film by Sisbro & Co. Inc. A Derrick Murdoch award winner, she is a Past President of Crime Writers of Canada, and a member of both Mesdames of Mayhem and Sisters in Crime. Find all the stories and links right here:

Please join me next week to welcome Donna Galanti, author of THE ELEMENT TRILOGY – Paranormal murder and mystery with a dash of steam…


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