Q- What inspired the idea for your book?
A – A jumble of things, as always… a photo of a kitchen whisk with a sprung beater wire, a true crime mystery book I read, the idea of the woods as a scary and threatening place… it all comes together in A Calculated Whisk.
Q – If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?
A – I think Valetta Nibley and I would be friends. We’d probably go to thrift stores and garage sales together!
Q – How do you define success as an author?
A – Entertaining readers; that is the sum total of my goal in writing mysteries. The kind words from readers is manna and it keeps me going because readers give me a reason to write.
Q – What comes first for you — the plot or the characters?
A – It’s Chicken vs Egg, isn’t it? Plot and character are so intertwined, how can one begin without the other? However… the seed of a plot has to be there, I suppose, for the characters to be created. If I had to say definitively, the plot needs to have some slight breath of life before characters can be created to people the plot
Q – As an author what do you think makes a good story?
A – I try to make it real. I never want a reader to look up from one of my books, roll their eyes and say, “Well, that would never happen in real life.” We hope, as writers, that readers will enter into an agreement with us to suspend their disbelief for the duration, but to get them to do that, we have to make our plot and action somewhat believable. Even fantasy fiction holds within it some kernel of truth, of life, of reality. Jaymie (my protagonist in the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries) is never going to be able to karate chop a killer into submission; it’s not her style. When she defeats a villain there is usually an element of luck that she takes advantage of.
Q – What do you look for in a story as a reader?
A – I love reading a story that doesn’t tell me everything right away, that reveals bits and pieces of the plot in intriguing ways. I want a mystery within a mystery… okay, someone is murdered, but also, why does this family interact that way? What other secrets are they hiding? I don’t need to be hammered over the head with loads of plot exposition in one sitting; I want it to be like a trail of breadcrumbs that I follow, one after the other, until I start to understand the story and the people within it. The very best novels have plots that flow naturally from interesting characters.
Q – What has been your favorite reader feedback?
A – There have been many that stood out to me over the years for many different books. The first Regency romance I had published as Donna Simpson had a character with severe arthritis, and one reader wrote to me that she wept reading it, because her beloved mother had suffered in the same way. If affected her deeply, and I’ve never forgotten what she said. Recently, a reader from Sweden wrote me a lovely letter about how profoundly she had been affected by the central character of my historical mystery A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder, and that it had made her want to write; that is special praise indeed. But many many readers have told me they love visiting Queensville, Michigan, and feel like the characters are their friends. To hear that is truly special and I cherish their words.
Q – What is your all time favorite book or author? Do you think this has influenced your writing?
A – Mystery novels of the early eighties have had a big influence on me, in particular the work of Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. Their characters (V. I. Warshawski and Kinsey Millhone, respectively) opened my eyes to the power of female driven mysteries, and from then on, the die was cast. I knew I wanted to write mysteries with female protagonists, women who didn’t wait around for someone else to solve their problems, but who took action.
Q – What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
A – Dare to be bad. Really… it’s easy to get discouraged by your first efforts (if you’re being real about what you’ve written, because unless you are a secret genius you will write some perfectly awful stuff), but you need to keep moving forward. I wrote three or four books that were never (and will never be) published, and from what I’ve heard from other authors, that’s par for the course.
Q – If you went on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?
A – Sue Grafton. No hesitation. And I’d love her to take me along the PCH to Santa Barbara (which is thinly veiled as Santa Theresa in her Alphabet series, a tribute to one of her writing influences, Ross Macdonald) so she could show me all the places she fictionalized. I miss her being in this world.
Q- If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
A – Nothing. (IRWYW best answer ever!)
That’s the problem… I think unless there is a real risk of failing, there is no spice in doing anything. The knots in your stomach, the sweat on your brow, the fear in your heart… it’s all there to urge you forward against all odds. There’s a saying, ‘with great risk comes great reward’, and I think the corollary to that is, without risk, there is no adventure in doing anything.
When a woman living under a cloud of suspicion for her husband’s death comes to vintage kitchen collector Jaymie Leighton with a mysterious request, she’s not sure whether, or how much, to get involved. The police believe they have new evidence of foul play in what was initially ruled an accidental death, and the woman’s terrified they’ll try to pin the crime on her. Before Jaymie can decide whether to help her, though, the woman’s found murdered in the woods near Jaymie’s cabin.
Still unsure whether the woman was truly innocent in her husband’s death, Jaymie decides to get to the bottom of both murders. But as she digs deeper into the couple’s past and discovers a tangled array of long-buried wounds and family secrets, Jaymie begins to sense that danger is still lurking in the woods near her home. With a killer on the loose and her family in danger, Jaymie must uncover the culprit before she loses all she holds dear, including her own life . . .
Includes a vintage recipe!
Victoria Hamilton is the bestselling author of several mystery series including the national bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries. She does, indeed, collect vintage kitchenware and bake muffins. She also writes the Lady Anne Addison Historical Mysteries. She drinks tea and coffee on writing days, and wine other times. She crochets (a little), paints (a little) and reads (a lot). A solitary being, she can be coaxed out of her writing cave for brownies and cat videos.
She started her writing life as Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of Regency Romances, paranormal historicals and historical mysteries, and still has a soft spot for the Regency period.
You can find her online at:
Website: http://www.VictoriaHamiltonMysteries.com (Sign up for her newsletter for all the latest!)
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaHamilton
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/MysteryVictoria
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mysteryauthorvictoriahamilton/
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