Kent State language professor publishes mystery novel

Courtesy of Stephanie Siciarz.

Courtesy of Stephanie Siciarz.

Carolyn Pippin

Kent State’s Stephanie Siciarz, a modern and classical languages professor, recently published her first novel, “Left at the Mango Tree,” a mystery set on a tropical island where peculiar things happen.

“The opening scene of the story just came to me one day while I was driving in my car on my way to work. It’s one of those gifts of the muses,” Siciarz said.

As editorial assistant for the International Monetary Fund, according to her LinkedIn account, Siciarz spent a lot of time vacationing in the Caribbean because of the job she had at the time, which allowed her to visit four to five times a year.

“Geographically, the setting is very much Caribbean,” she said.

Siciarz lived in Italy, which also influenced the setting for her novel because there is a community feeling that is overwhelming, she said.

“I think small communities are the same all over the world and the Italian community that I was in was very tight knit,” she said. “My time in Italy gave me an insight into small-town life.”

While Siciarz was writing her novel, she worked on a writing degree at the same time.

“Of course, when I was writing it, it was always more of a hobby,” she said.

“I started writing it in 2000, and I finished the final version of it in 2008,” Siciarz said. “There were six to eight month periods where I wouldn’t even touch it because I was busy with work or traveling or with life.”

Siciarz says there are two ways that people can interpret her book.

“If you want to read it without reflecting too much, then it’s just a fun story in a really warm place,” she said. “Not just a warm climate, but warm people.”

If readers want to spend a little more time reading between the lines, the novel is “really about identity and about how we see ourselves,” Siciarz said. “Does our name and where we come from really make a difference?”

Siciarz’s favorite part of the book is the penultimate chapter.

“The last chapter wraps up the details, and the second-to-last chapter wraps up the emotions,” she said. “That was a very satisfying chapter for me to write.”

She hopes that readers will find the coziness in the reading that she tried to put there.

Siciarz is having a book signing from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at The Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson. The novel is priced at $13.99 in The Learned Owl Book Shop, according to its website.

Carolyn Pippin is a news correspondent for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].