The Hitman’s Mark, a Wattpad story by Emily A. Renfroe
Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
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The Hitman’s Mark
After a devastating tragedy shatters the renowned Romano crime family, Don Leonardo Romano sends his only child, eighteen year old Valentina, to a university across the Atlantic, far from New York and the dangers that accompany their family’s “business.”
But upon graduation, she finds herself flung back into a world driven by money and divided by blood. As her father’s only heir, the fate of the Romano family weighs heavily on Val’s young shoulders. Determined to please her father and uphold the family’s power, Val vows to strengthen the Romano name by any means necessary, even if that means selling her heart to the highest bidder.
Meanwhile, upon receiving orders to serve as Valentina’s personal guard, hitman Matteo knows it won’t be easy keeping the Romano principessa alive, especially when the rival crime families set their sights on the young heiress.
But, as their relationship grows, Matteo realizes that his own desire might be the greatest threat to the Romano dynasty.
To read The Hitman’s Mark, click here.
Interview with Emily A. Renfroe, author of The Hitman’s Mark
You chose to release The Hitman’s Mark chapter by chapter on Wattpad. What has that experience been like, and why did you choose that format for your novel?
Releasing The Hitman’s Mark chapter by chapter on Wattpad has been such a fun experience, but it has also presented an exciting challenge for me as an author! I actually knew that I wanted The Hitman’s Mark to be part of Wattpad’s ongoing stories when I crafted the original plotline, so, once I sat down to begin drafting, I had to approach the writing process a little differently.
Just like the other books that I’ve written, I tried to hook readers with an enticing, inciting action within the first chapter. However, once I had the first chapter written, I needed to prioritize maintaining that level of intrigue at the end of every chapter. Therefore, every chapter of The Hitman’s Mark seeks to end on a bit of a cliffhanger—some far more than others—but my goal was to leave my readers on the edge of their seat and eager for the next chapter to release.
This has been a really valuable lesson to learn as a writer, and it is one that I’ll be able to apply to all of my future books, regardless of whether they fall under the ongoing category.
What would you like readers to know about Valentina Romano?
Oh, Valentina! Val has easily become one of my favorite characters to write, and I think that stems from the fact that we are so different from one another. As a self-confessed introvert and staunch rule-follower, it has been immensely enjoyable to write from the point of view of a bold, confident, and occasionally reckless woman.
Val is a force to be reckoned with, both for the characters that she interacts with in the book and also for myself as a writer. Sometimes, I’ll have a scene plotted out, but, as I’m writing it, Val catches me off-guard by saying or doing something that completely changes the direction of the book. I’ve never had a character that I can so clearly “hear” in my head, and that has been such a rewarding experience for me.
All in all, I love Val. She’s the sort of woman I would want to be friends with because she’s fiercely loyal and compassionate to a fault– especially in the mafia-centered world that she lives in. Also, it’s safe to say that she’s a certified badass, again, perhaps to a fault. In my opinion, she’s a strong female lead that knows what she wants and makes bold moves to achieve it, which I think isn’t seen enough in mafia romance books.
What would you like readers to know about Matteo Costa?
Matteo is a dream, plain and simple. He checks off the boxes of “tall, dark, and handsome” that I have always enjoyed writing, with hints of overprotectiveness, brooding tendencies, and gentleness that make me melt. Although he might come across as the stereotypical “bad boy” hero that is commonly found between the pages of a dark romance, I think that Matteo’s backstory makes him unique.
Commonly, the heroes in mafia stories are “bosses,” or the men that rule the dangerous crime families. Matteo offers a different perspective as a hitman and bodyguard. In essence, he’s a highly trained soldier with considerable power, but he is still subject to the whims of a boss—Val’s father. This adds an interesting dynamic to his character because he does not have complete control over his actions and future. Oftentimes, he is torn between his own desire and his sense of duty toward the Romano family that he serves.
Of course, there’s more to Matteo than meets the eye, and I’m so excited for readers to begin season two. So much about Matteo’s past is set to be revealed. Without spoiling too much, it’s safe to say that his role in the Cosa Nostra is about to be flipped on its head.
The Hitman’s Mark centers on a crime family in New York, how did you go about researching the mafia for your project? What interests you about organized crime?
Oh goodness, I’m afraid I didn’t do as much research as I should have, haha! As much as it embarrasses me to admit, Wikipedia was my friend in the initial planning stages of The Hitman’s Mark. I briefly investigated the history of the Italian mafia in New York, mainly researching prominent mobsters and events throughout the 1920’s. Then, I shifted my focus toward researching the role of modern organized crime in New York and throughout the United States.
Funnily enough, I think I learned the most about the mafia and the Cosa Nostra from reading other dark romance books about organized crime! I binge-read tons of mafia romance books and decided I’d try my hand at writing my own.
Organized crime has always interested me because it’s a secret, dangerous world that most people don’t know much about. It’s something that I definitely do not want to tangle with in real life, but writing and reading about it allows us to explore the world and create our own stories within it.
What can we find you doing when you aren’t writing?
At the moment, you can find me taking care of my newborn baby! She’s three weeks old as I’m writing this, so I have my hands full. Usually though, I enjoy going for walks with my pups and working out at the gym! I also have an unhealthy obsession with small town romance books, so I almost always end the night reading about some couple in a little fictional town with a whimsical name.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on season two of The Hitman’s Mark, which is titled, “The Hitman’s Secret.” I took a bit of a break last month with the birth of my daughter, but I just dove back into Val and Matteo’s story and am having an absolute blast! On the side, I am also drafting book two of a fantasy werewolf series that was inspired by Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s relationship in Game of Thrones.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Write what you love and write it often. Even if you only write one page a day for a year, at the end of the year, you’ll have an entire book.
Author Pet Corner
My dogs are the absolute loves of my life! I rescued these boys during a very hard season in life, and I really believe that they saved me.
I adopted Teddy first, and he will always be my first baby. He made me the obsessive dog mom that I am today. He’s a bit of a grump and enjoys snuggling with his humans the most, but he also goes crazy playing fetch with these little orange balls. (He refuses to play with any toy other than these orange balls.) He is also the king of underbites and has the sweetest snaggletooth!
Then I have Moose, who I adopted a year after Teddy!
I used to volunteer at the animal shelter in my rural college town, and he was brought in one day while I was walking the dogs. I instantly fell in love with him and his gentle, quiet demeanor and returned daily to visit with him. Although I tried to convince others to adopt him first (I was a college student on a budget and already had one dog to support), he was eventually put on the “at-risk” list. I immediately stepped in and rescued him, and he came home with me on the day before Christmas! He’s my Christmas miracle. He had a rough start to life but is now constantly spoiled and loved on!
Emily A. Renfroe
Emily Renfroe is an aspiring author and avid lover of all things romance!
From the time she first saw Mr. Darcy walk down the countryside hill in the Pride and Prejudice movie, she knew that she wanted to write and create her own epic, soundtrack-worthy romances. She lives in Georgia with her husband, newborn daughter, and two adorable rescue pups.
She enjoys going for walks, watching Formula 1 with her husband, and daydreaming about far-away fantasy worlds that she hopes to one day bring to life.
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery