A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Book Birthday Interview – Lauren James interviews Catherine Doyle about MAFIOSA

25059637A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.

Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?

The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.

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Happy book birthday, Cat! I interviewed you for INFERNO, and I am SO excited to be back again talking about MAFIOSA. How does it feel to have finished a whole series?

 It feels very surreal actually. I’m not sure I’ve had a moment where I’ve sat down and thought to myself, ‘wow, I’ve written a whole trilogy.’ Though, having said that, I do like to joke with my mother that I have way more in common with her now that I, too, have three children of my own. I should probably stop doing that. She really wants grandchildren.

 How do you feel your writing has changed since the first book? What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you were starting VENDETTA?

I think my writing is better, and my plotting is tighter. I would tell myself to over-write less, trust the reader more, and STOP WORRYING about everything. Gawd. Also: MORE TWISTS. Endless, endless twists.

Can you give us a brief recap of the last two books, for anyone who read them when they came out?24638201

Oh, this is cruel, making me do a DOUBLE summary. What have I done to deserve this, Lauren?! Everyone knows authors hate doing summaries. OK. Here goes. Vendetta and Inferno: hot boys, random food, betrayal, female friendship, secrets, TWISTS, romance, DEATH-UNENDING.

The first two books follow seventeen-year-old Sophie Gracewell as she becomes embroiled with a deadly mafia family in Chicago. In Vendetta, she falls into the criminal underworld head-first, when she develops feelings for a boy with a dangerous lifestyle (bonus: flirtatious hostility with his older brother, Luca).25022128

In Inferno, Sophie discovers secrets about her own family that make it impossible to climb back out of the criminal underworld, and so she must instead learn to survive it, with the help of her plucky and loyal best friend, Millie, and her mother, Celine. Sophie also discovers that instant chemistry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, dangerous boys are often just that – dangerous – and sometimes the person who annoys you the most, might be the person who cares about you the deepest.

 Are any scenes in MAFIOSA inspired by real life?

 Oh, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been involved in underworld shoot-outs…

There are scenes inspired by my favourite movie moments. There is a Cinderella scene, a Godfather-esque scene, and a scene where Millie, Sophie’s best friend, tries to kill a Daddy Long Legs while completely freaking out on the phone to her – which was inspired by my best friend, and transcribed during the incident in question.

Did you know who would live/die from the very beginning? Did anything change from your original plan?


I killed way more people than I expected to. And saved one person I did not intend to save. Vaaaague.

You’ve got quite a large fanbase for the series – did this effect how you wrote the final book compared to the first two? I know there were frequent requests for Luca to be shirtless in Book 3 from Tumblr users!

It didn’t affect the over-all plot of the books, but I did add in little nuggets (like shirtless Luca) to appease my ardent Tumblr readers.

Looking back on the series as a whole, what is your favourite:

Scene: I really like the Doughnut Scene in Inferno and the Meteor Shower scene in Mafiosa.

Character: Luca.

Quote: I’m not punching Bambi in the face.

 Line of dialogue: ‘Maybe I am looking at you,’ he whispered. ‘Maybe I always have been.’

 Do you think fans are going to be happy with the way things end? I sure hope so

 Do you have a playlist for this book? It’s basically a mix of Hozier and Sia.

 As it’s January, what were your favourite YA books of 2016?

Ah, so many! A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, An Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas, The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Adhieh, The Last Beginning by Lauren James (that’s you!), The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury, Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle. There are so many. I could go on.

What are you writing next?

I’m working on a story that takes place in modern-day Salem. It deals with magic and lore, fate and family, clairvoyance and destiny, and a very unexpected romance.


Catherine Doyle is a 26-year-old writer from the West of Ireland. She holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in English. As a child she was an annoying smarty-pants with an overactive imagination. She feels lucky to have now found a healthy outlet for her tendency to make up stories. Her YA trilogy, VENDETTA, INFERNO and MAFIOSA are inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and classic mafia culture, and take place in modern-day Chicago, where Catherine’s mother grew up.

“This is a perfect read for somebody looking for a great YA contemp with swoony, sexy (dangerous, mysterious) romance and a dark, gritty twist.” — Maggie Hall, author of The Conspiracy of Us for Vendetta

Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She sold the rights to her first novel The Next Together, a Young Adult science fiction romance, when she was 21. It has been translated into five languages worldwide and is out now with Walker Books in the UK and Australia, and will also be published by Sky Pony Press in the USA. It was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’. It was also longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognise an outstanding novel by a first time writer. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient.

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel. A short story set in the world of The Next Together series, Another Together, is also available as a free eBook.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, a standalone psychological thriller set in space, will be published in 2017 by Walker Books in the UK.

You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her website

“Funny, romantic and compulsively readable” – The Bookseller for The Next Together


About Lauren James

Lauren James was born in 1992 and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, with a Master’s degree, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the author of The Next Together, The Last Beginning and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or Tumblr at

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