Thursday, October 6, 2022

What Does a Character’s Karaoke Song Choice Say About Them? by Mia Manansala

Jenn McKinlay: One of my absolute favorite new mystery series is the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mysteries. I fell in love with Arsenic and Adobo and I've been addicted ever since. Our friend, Mia, has three in the series out now, and she's here today to tell us more about her latest and there's a giveaway!!!

Mia P. Manansala: I can’t believe I’m already on my third published book when I still feel like such a newbie, but Blackmail and Bibingka, the third book in the award-winning Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series is out now! 

After some of the heavier issues I dealt with in my second book, Homicide and Halo-Halo, book three has all the fun and whimsy and DRAMA that the Christmas season can bring. My protagonist’s wayward cousin is back in town, bringing with him old hurts, new scandals, and, of course, another murder for Lila (my main character) to solve. 

On my Facebook Author Page, I shared an exclusive excerpt of a scene that takes place at a karaoke party at Lila’s family restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. It’s meant to be a moment of lightness and fun in the midst of a tough investigation, but there’s much more going on than what’s on the surface. The excerpt starts with my protagonist, Lila, explaining to Dr. Jae Park the significance of people’s karaoke choices. 

This scene was so much fun to write, but a little tricky since my protagonist is a decade younger than me (and so are many of her friends) and has very different musical tastes. I also don’t really listen to a lot of contemporary American music, so I’m not sure what the cool kids are listening to (other than Beyonce, of course. She transcends all generational divides). I also didn’t want to do the thing that’s so common in teen movies/shows/books where I give my much younger protagonist my own music taste because 1) she was a baby when most of my favorite songs came out, why would she have the same taste, and 2) that’s so boring and says nothing about the character. I did cheat a little by having her choose older songs, but I tried to do it in a way that gave a bit more about her backstory. 

Mia at Karaoke!

Lila is an orphan–her parents died in a car accident when she was pretty young (I can’t remember if she was 8 or 10) and has been raised by her paternal aunt and grandmother ever since. Homicide and Halo-Halo had her dealing with memories of her mother, not all of them good. With her song choice in Blackmail and Bibingka, I wanted to reveal a bit more about her father, who hasn’t come up much. From the very first book, I established that Lila liked to sing. It was meant to be a throwaway thing because I needed to give her a talent and I thought it’d be fun if she were a good singer since I’m a terrible one. But as her character grew and deepened, I realized that her love of singing was something passed down from her father. He loved music and was always playing old songs around the house and singing along to them, so she grew up listening to and loving the music her father loved. And after he passed, those songs were a way she could still feel close to him. 

In the second book, I mentioned her singing “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles and in Blackmail and Bibingka, her song choice is “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder. Why those songs? Because they were among my own father’s favorites. He passed away in 2018, but I love finding ways to slip bits of him into my books. 

Because I write culinary cozies, I always say that a plate of food is never just a plate of food–it symbolizes so much more. The same could be said with song choices. 

Well, at least in fiction. I mean, there’s nothing particularly deep about me singing Backstreet Boys songs at karaoke, right? 

I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of my latest book, BLACKMAIL AND BIBINGKA, to one lucky commenter! To enter, let me know what your karaoke song is (or would be, if you’ve never done karaoke before). U.S. only. 

Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is the author of the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series. The first book, ARSENIC AND ADOBO, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness, and has won multiple awards. 

The New York Times stated, “Manansala peppers the narrative with enough red herrings to keep readers from guessing the killer, but the strength of the novel is how family, food and love intertwine in meaningful and complex ways,” which are common themes in her writing. 

 She is the winner of the 2022 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, 2022 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, 2022 RUSA Reading List for Mystery, 2021 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, 2021 Chicago Reader’s Best New Novel by a Chicagoan, 2018 Hugh Holton Award, the 2018 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, the 2017 William F. Deeck - Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, and the 2016 Mystery Writers of America/Helen McCloy Scholarship. 

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @MPMtheWriter Or check out her website: www.miapmanansala.com

54 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Mia, on your new book . . . I’m guessing that Lila will have her hands full with her cousin’s return . . . .

    If I were to do any karaoke singing, my song would be “Cry Me a River” . . . .

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  2. I love that you discovered this connection between Lila and her father as you wrote. Discovering new parts about characters we made up is one of the best parts of writing!

    I would probably choose "Respect" or "I am Woman" but really I can sing along to just about anything from my past.

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    1. It really is so much fun being able to peel back these layers and realize that I seeded in so much early on. Great choices!

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  3. Mia, congratulations on your third book, it sounds amazing. I agree with Edith that showing readers Lila's connection to her dad through music is going to feel very good. There are pieces of music that still make me think about my mother, almost 60 years later.

    So many songs to choose from, hmmm. Different Drum by the Stone Ponies.

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    1. Now, I'm not saying you ain't pretty-- All I'm saying, is I'm not ready, for any person place or thing, to try to pull the reins in on meeeeeee.... THOSE LYRICS! Love that.

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    2. I loved that song in college!

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    3. What is the song title and artist?

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    4. Thanks, Judy! There's something about music that can really transport you to a specific time/place/person, isn't there?

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  4. Mia, I loved Arsenic and Adobo, and it's look into a community I know little about. Looking forward to the next two in the series.

    My oldest daughter listened to me singing oldies in the car from her earliest days, and her 17-year old son, as well. All three of us love Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk, and we have rocked the car singing it together.

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    1. Oh, my gosh--my six year old grandson belted out the WHOLE THING at dinner at. our house a few years ago--and it was hilarious. Can you even imagine? We all joined in of course.

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    2. Ha! I bet it was. Did he also just not say the bad words, like Zak did?

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    3. Thanks, Karen! And Uptown Funk is a great choice!

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  5. Welcome Mia, what a fun topic! I haven't done a lot of karaoke, but I did throw lipsync Motown parties in the past--less singing and more costumes. We took our kids and brother-in-law to a bar in Key West a while ago and my son and I did Sonny and Cher's I GOT YOU BABE. Fun!

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  6. MIA: It was great to see you and cheer you on as you won those awards for ARSENIC AND ADOBO at LCC and Bouchercon this year. I'm definitely looking forward to reading BLACKMAIL AND BIBINGKA.

    As for karaoke songs, I am stuck in the 80s and would want to sing an upbeat song such as. GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN.

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    1. Thanks so much, Grace! And yes, I tend to gravitate to the more upbeat songs to keep the mood going.

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  7. Mia: Congratulations on your new book. I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba that has a large Philippino population. "The first major wave of Filipino migration to Manitoba occurred in the 1950s when a number of nurseS and doctors arrived. That was followed a decade later by a surge of Filipino immigrants who came to work at garment companies when Winnipeg had a thriving clothing manufacturing industry." (source: CTV news) I am off to catch up on your series!

    As for karaoke, I don't have much experience, but I'd maybe choose a Neil Diamond song... SWEET CAROLINE.

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    1. Come to a Red Sox game, Amanda - the entire Fenway Park crowd sings it every game!

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    2. Or a Pitt Panthers college football game. :)

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    3. Why do they sing the Neil Diamond song Sweet Caroline?

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  8. Congratulations on the book, Mia! I haven't done karaoke and not sure I would because staying on key is challenging for me. I did once go to a karaoke night at a restaurant in Florida (Hurricane Patty's in St. Augustine) with my family and watched. It was fun! My brave niece (who was still in high school then) got up and sang Bitch by Meredith Brooks,

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    1. Thanks, Gillian! What a great song choice from your niece

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  9. Congrats on the third book, Mia!

    I don't think I've ever done karaoke - at least not as an adult and not in recent memory. But if I did, I'd probably pick something from the 80s.

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    1. Thanks, Liz! Definitely a popular era for karaoke choices.

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  10. Good morning, Mia!
    I need to put your books on my “active” TBR list (as opposed to my “I hope someday I get around to reading these books” TBR list) because I’ve been wanting to read them for a long time. Congratulations on all the awards you’ve received!

    I like to sing but my voice has gotten absolutely awful as I have aged, so I’m never going to do karaoke! If I ever became brave enough to try it, it would probably be a song from the sixties.

    DebRo

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    1. Thanks so much, Deb! My friends and I do the private rooms as opposed to the ones where you stand on stage in front of everyone, so I don't have to worry about being an awful singer since I'm just with friends :)

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  11. Congratulations on #3, Mia, it sounds delightful! If I sang karaoke I would empty the house so I avoid it at all costs, but if I did decide to take the plunge, I'd be doing a duet with Edith singing I am Woman! What do you say, Edith?

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  12. Congratulations Mia! I would enjoy the opportunity to sing karaoke and all of the songs would be from the 1950's and 1960's. My favorite era for rock.

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  13. Oh,this is SUCH a fun question. ANd you know I am a big big fan. I agree with giving characters reasons for what they do--it's actually a very powerful tool, don't you think? It's instantly telegraphed backstory. As for what I'd sing. Well, you all now me, a=and hearing me singing is the LAST thing you'd want :-)--but I'd sing Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt? Or maybe White Rabbit. Or The Rose. NOw I am really thinking about this!
    Congratulations, Mia!

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    1. Blue Bayou! Yes, please.

      I tried downloading a couple of karaoke apps last Christmas for the family to sing, but all the songs were too new for me. I'm sure the kids would have been able to sing the new stuff.

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    2. More Linda Ronstadt? Then Desperado!

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  14. Karaoke would be wonderful for a party. R&B would be my choice. So unforgettable and heartfelt.

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    1. Karaoke parties are so much fun! I love R&B but definitely don't have the vocal skill for it

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  15. I've never done karaoke, but maybe something oldies or country.

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  16. Congratulations, Mia! Sorry I am so late here. I overslept again!

    Since I spent many years with a profound hearing loss, the only music that i knew about was the kind of music in my ballet classes AND the women's bluegrass music band Good Ol' Persons, which was started by a family member. She is still singing. Check out www.kathykallickband.com.

    Since my Cochlear Implant surgeries, I learned that I love listening to Beethoven (he lost his hearing at age 25), Haydn, and Mozart. I am sure that there are many other musicians that I like, though I cannot think of their names off the top of my head.

    First experience I had with Karaoke was when we travelled to Europe. We were staying at a guest farmhouse / hotel ? with vineyard in Tuscany. After dinner, we did karaoke and all I had to do was read the captions and just mouth the words, since I STILL have a Deaf accent. ha ha ha. All I remember were words like limoncello.

    Diana

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  17. Love how you went deep with karaoke, Mia! Congrats on the new book!

    I haven't done karaoke in ages, but I tend to do group singing (since it's way better for the audience to listen to). That means it generally skews to stuff like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (same as Grace), "Eternal Flame," and "Dancing Queen."

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    1. Thanks, Jen! And haha I knew I had to give SOME substance to that scene and that was one of the best ways to do it (there's also some investigating slipped in, of course). I usually do partner/group singing too

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  18. I mostly listen to Christian music, so I'm not sure much of what I listen to would even be a choice. However, I also love Disney, so I'm sure I could find a song from a Disney movie I could sing.

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  19. Mia, I loved reading about this! And I do love Karaoke but strictly from the audience. When I was at Book Passage a month or so back, teaching at their wonderful annual Mystery Writers Conference, at a faculty party they had Karaoke. Up got Cara Black and Rachel Howzell Hall for a completely fabulous duet, rocked the joint! Gave me a totally different take on those two amazing writers... Brava!

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  20. I'm like my mother in that I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. So in the interests of humanity, no karaoke for me! However it would be fun to be able to belt out Paint It Black, or Abba's Take a Chance on Me, or any Janis Joplin song.

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    1. Haha I'm definitely not a great singer, but my husband and friends have to deal w/ it! Thanks for stopping by, Pat.

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    2. Pat, I was thinking Janis Joplin, too. I heard "Piece of My Heart" on an oldies station 2 days ago and am still singing it!!

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  21. Congratulations on book #3, Mia! I love how you've worked in the character cues with the karoke.

    I've never done karoke but my hubs and I used to do a great duet of Crosby, Stills, and Nash's Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanOctober 7, 2022 at 1:07 AM

      Wow! That is elaborate! I would love to hear that!

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  22. Congratulations on your new release, Mia. I've never done karaoke. Neal Diamond's Sweet Caroline would be a good karaoke song.

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  23. My most embarrassing karaoke moment was when I sang, "It's my party and I'll cry if i want to" and proceeded to sing the words "pause for instrumental" like a big doofus :) Can't wait to read your book, Mia! I love this series so much!

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  24. I have a friend who keeps wanting to do Beatles tunes with me with karaoke.

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  25. Somehow I missed the first two entries of this series, and I'll happily remedy that now. We have some Filipino-American family members, so I'm somewhat familiar with the people, culture, and food, all of which are delightful. As for karaoke, believe me, no one wants to hear me sing, but in the spirit of fun I did once participate. The song was perfect for me: Tequila, by The Champs. ;)

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