Sunday, August 26, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Victoria Hamilton!

When I read Victoria Hamilton's very first Vintage Kitchen mystery, A Deadly Grind, I immediately knew two things: (1) I was very much looking forward to the second in the series, Bowled Over, coming in 2013, and (2) I just had to ask her for an interview. I know... here I am, a person who claims her dream house wouldn't have a kitchen, enjoying a Vintage Kitchen mystery! That just proves how engaging Victoria's characters are.

Victoria Hamilton
Before we get to the fun stuff in the interview, here are a few links just in case you'd like to learn more about Victoria and her books:

Victoria Hamilton on Twitter
Victoria’s characters blog at Killer Characters on the 21st of each month.

Without further ado, let's get started with the interview! 

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

I learned to read early because I got impatient with waiting for others to read to me. Weirdly, the first book that struck me, and I read again and again, was Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág, an old and tattered book someone gave me. It’s on the ‘must read’ list for children’s books and won the Newbery Award in 1929; no, I’m not that old… like I said, the copy I read was very old and tattered. LOL! I wish I still had it. Reading the description on Wikipedia, I am reminded why I loved that book so much. Besides the fabulous rhythm of the repeated phrases "Cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats...", there is a lovely little moral tucked inside, about the beauty of modesty.

The very first mystery I ever read was Walter Brooks’ Freddy the Pig book, Freddy the Detective, another very old book I took out of the bookmobile library that stopped around the corner from us every Friday afternoon at four-thirty pm. I’ve been hooked on detective and mystery fiction ever since!

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Short answer… a lot! Longer answer? I love crafts. I cross stitch and crochet, and do beadwork. I collect: vintage kitchen stuff, teacups and teapots, jewelry, cat figurines, books, etc. I enjoy cooking. I like singing. I desperately want to learn how to watercolor paint. So much to do, so little time!

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.) 

Uncle Tom's Cabin
I’d like to broaden the base from my hometown to my area, Southwestern Ontario. Last summer I went on a day trip to the town of Sparta, where there is a wonderful tearoom, and several funky stores. The beaches along Lake Huron are great, from Kettle Point all the way north to Goderich. There is so much to see around here! The Uncle Tom’s Cabin site near Dresden, Ontario is dedicated to Josiah Henson, a runaway slave who came to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Native culture is vividly shown at Ska-Nah-Doht, a recreated First Nations village, near Delaware, Ontario. There’s so much to see locally!

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Kathy Bates
Hehehe… Kathy Bates. She’s older than I am, but the woman can act! I’d like to see her reflect the fact that a cozy murder mystery author is still… you guessed it, writing about murder! I’m fascinated by true crime shows, so I know several ways to kill you and dispose of the body. I wouldn’t do it, because I’m a nice person, but if I’m ever stuck with a body… I’ll know what to do.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

No two ways about it, Kinsey Millhone. Sue Grafton’s character has matured and developed in so many interesting ways over the years, still fresh, fascinating, richly nuanced. A close second is V. I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky’s wonderful P.I.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?  

Too many come to mind… it all comes bubbling up. I adore books by Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky, of course, but… if I had to choose one book?

The Victorian set murder mystery A Flaw in the Blood by Stephanie Barron… oh, my goodness, the perfection! The creeping sense of evil and madness, all tied to a real life character! It took awesome guts to write about Queen Victoria, and in such a way, and with a horribly inevitable sense of the trueness and logic of her plotline. You’ll leave the book believing things that are clearly not true.

[You know, this book is moving closer and closer to the top of my to-be-read pile!]

Now… why didn’t you ask me about the book I’m glad I didn’t write?

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published? What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore?  

My first great news came in January 1999 when I learned my Regency romance Lord St. Claire’s Angel was to be published by Kensington Zebra. I popped open a bottle of champagne (okay, sparkling wine) that just happened to be left over in the fridge from Christmas. 

When I heard I had a contract with Berkley Prime Crime for A Deadly Grind, you could have heard the ‘whoop’ for miles, probably! My agent sure heard it, on the other end of the phone line. What did I do? I don’t remember…  I do believe I then took out the garbage. Glamorous, yes? I have never yet seen a copy on a bookshelf, because I – gasp! – don’t go to bookstores. I don’t get out a lot, period, because I’m always writing!

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

I, sadly, have no interesting answer to this. I only had one book signing in my life, for a romance novel, and I sat in the middle of the mall, trying to look nonchalant as folks milled around ignoring me.

What's the best thing about eBooks? What's the worst?

eBooks? Love ‘em. Best thing? I can fit 88 books on my ebook reader; well, I can fit more, but that’s how many I have right now. Another great thing… I can get long out of print books, books no one has heard of. I can read research books from the eighteen hundreds. Worst? I love books: I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the cover pictures, back content. You just don’t get that same experience with an ebook.

That was fun… anyone got any more questions?? LOL.

[Not many give us a free invite like this. My readers are normally a very quiet bunch, but perhaps they'll prove me wrong today!]

On Sale Now!
Thank you so much, Victoria, for spending this time with us. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to get to know you a little better.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!


  1. I'm astounded to learn that Victoria loved A FLAW IN THE BLOOD, which has to be my least well-known book--but one of my favorites. Thanks for the shout-out, Victoria. I'll be reading yours next...

    1. Wow, Stephanie... not only did I read and love the book - anyone who didn't, didn't understand how difficult it was to do what you did, and how magnificently you did it - but I have read and loved all of the Jane Austen books! In my other incarnation as historical romance/mystery author Donna Lea Simpson, I wrote a trilogy, the Lady Anne Mysteries, and you showed me the way!

  2. Hi Victoria, why don't you tell us about "the book you didn't write"? Sounds like there is a story in there!

    1. I agree! I may have to email her about that! :-)


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