Genesee Student, Mary Speranza, Pens Murder Mystery

Jennifer is the young daughter of a small town’s police chief, and she shares in the town’s sadness when one of the town’s residents is murdered by cyanide-laced cookies. No one knows where the cookies came from – but Jennifer’s suspicion rests squarely on an older woman for whom she bears a deep dislike.

That’s the prelude to Pookie, a 17,000-word murder mystery novel written by Genesee Community College student Mary H. Speranza, and about to be published through Author House Publishing Co.

Writing a novel has long been a dream for Ms. Speranza, a LeRoy resident who is pursuing a degree in Communications and Media Arts, but it was not until she attended college as an adult and began participating in English courses that she realized she might be able to do it. “I wanted to write for so many years I lost count,” Ms. Speranza said.

She completed the novel over a four-month period last year. After searching for a publisher, she realized that most publishers will not take a chance on a new author, so she resolved to foot some of the costs herself if necessary. She found Author House of Indiana and, with the encouragement of Marie Iglesias-Cardinale, Professor of English at Genesee, she signed on with Author House and set to work proofreading the finished product. She completed design meetings last month, and the book is expected to roll off the press in December.

Ms. Speranza was born in Rochester and lived for a time in Albion, Elba, and even California. It was in California that she began polishing her writing skills. She studied writing with the Institute for Children’s Literature, a private correspondence school, for two years, and then wrote “The Klutz,” a short story which she later sold to Chicago-based AIM Magazine. She has three children and seven grandchildren. Her husband died in 1998. She entered Genesee Community College two years ago and has participated in college activities, including a stint as a DJ on Radio WGCC-FM.

“This has been a wonderful experience for me,” Ms. Speranza said, speaking about her life as a student and writer. “I still have a hard time believing that I’m really going to have a novel in print.” Although she believes she might have been able to do it all on her own, she credits Professor Iglesias-Cardinale with inspiring her to move ahead. Ms. Speranza participated in Professor Iglesias-Cardinale's Creative Writing course last semester. “She was so encouraging,” Ms. Speranza recalled. “She kept telling me ‘you’ve got a good story here, go for it’, and somewhere along the way, I realized that I really could do it.”