FANWOOD, NJ — By day, she’s Rosemary DiBattista, Westfield High School English teacher and co-adviser to the school’s student newspaper, Hi’s Eye. But after school? She’s also Rosie Genova, author of the newly published book Murder and Marinara: An Italian Kitchen Mystery [Penguin Publishing].
“I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s a lifelong dream,” said DiBattista.
The pen name is a twist on her childhood name. (The Fanwood resident, who grew up in Kenilworth, was Rosemary Genova before she was married). DiBattista hopes to publish some of her women’s fiction one day under her married name, and she said she wants to keep the two genres separate.
The story follows whodunit writer Victoria Rienzi, who decides to get back to her roots by working at her family’s Italian restaurant down the shore. She soon discovers that their small New Jersey town is up in arms over plans to film a reality TV show there. When Victoria serves the show’s pushy producer his last meal, she and the staff find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation.
As if the suspense wasn’t enough, the book includes recipes for marinara, pesto and a frittata.
It’s DiBattista’s first published book, and she said her WHS students were “pretty excited” when it hit shelves earlier this month. More than the process of writing the murder mystery, she said, the kids are interested in what it takes to get a book published.
“They’re very curious about the process,” DiBattista said. “I did a guest lesson talking about the paths to publication.”
She tells her students, “It takes a lot of persistence, it takes a lot of patience and it really does take a lot of time honing your craft.”
DiBattista’s next books in the series will be The Wedding Soup Murder (available summer of 2014) and a yet-to-be-titled mystery to be published in summer or fall of 2015.
“They really are a lot of fun,” said DiBattista.
Find Murder and Marinara at The Town Book Store in Westfield and online at Amazon.com. Available on Kindle.