Interview With Author Victoria Hamilton

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I’m Victoria Hamilton and I write three ongoing series:

My Vintage Kitchen Mysteries are set in Michigan, on the shores of the St. Clair River, and feature Jaymie, a vintage kitchen collector who also collects vintage recipes! Since she stumbled into a murder mystery in A Deadly Grind she has discovered people murdered with a vintage glass bowl, a pudding mould, a meat mallet, an ice pick and many more vintage kitchen utensils!

My Merry Muffin Mysteries feature Merry Wynter who inherited a fabulous American castle in Western New York state. She bakes luscious muffins and investigates murder in her gorgeous castle and the quirky village of Autumn Vale with the help of her best friend Pish Lincoln and her (now hubby) beau Virgil Grace. There will be opera, teapots and muffins galore!

The Lady Anne Addison Historical Mysteries take place in England in 1786, the Georgian era, and feature Lady Anne Addison, in irascible earl’s daughter who is sceptical in all matters paranormal. She’s always right; there is always a scheming human involved.

But also… I will be rereleasing my historical mystery A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder to coincide with the publication of #2 in the series, Some Touch of Madness. The series features Miss Emmeline St. Germaine, a troubled spinster who writes a gossip column, but also has a secret identity as the masked rescuer of abused young women.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I don’t know if every writer feels this way, but I’m inspired by everything I hear and see and read. News stories sometimes suggest ideas, but it can be something as mundane as a new neighbour with odd habits, or a fading memory of years gone by, or playing the ‘what if’ game. The world conspires to give me new material every single day. I’ll never catch up with all the ideas and plots and plans that come to me.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

It depends on the kind of mistake you’re speaking of; there are technical mistakes, like grammatical errors, or getting a name wrong, or being repetitive, or not doing the research and making historical mistakes. Everyone makes those from time to time. I wish we could avoid them, but we’re human.

There are also artistic choices that don’t work out, sometimes a whole book that doesn’t work. If it’s the latter, you can’t really call it a mistake, it was a choice that didn’t pan out for whatever reason. The only way for a writer to avoid the second ‘mistake’ is honest evaluation. I was on the precipice of making a grave error recently but something felt off to me, even though I didn’t see the problem. I thought long and hard and actually engaged help in identifying the trouble and as a result saved myself from a world of hurt. Though my editor would have caught the error in judgment, trusting my gut and getting help saved me from having to rewrite an entire book.

So… when in doubt, trust your gut!

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Titles are difficult, there’s no getting around that. I write series, so I try my best to make each title sound enough like the last so it will be clear it’s part of the series. My Vintage Kitchen Mysteries all have a punning titles using a vintage kitchen implement. Likewise, my Merry Muffin Mysteries all have ‘Muffin’ in a punning title. My Lady Anne Addison mysteries have a nod to the pseudo-paranormal that my main character debunks.

As for covers… I’m fortunate that my publisher and I work together on a vision. One major thing I’ve learned is that the cover has to suit the genre or you’re going to alienate or completely miss the readers to whom you want to appeal. Case in point: I changed publishers for Leave It to Cleaver, Book #6 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, now published by Beyond the Page. With more input, I envisioned a cover graphic including a creepy basement with a trunk covered in cobwebs and a hank of hair sticking out, or a skeletal hand reaching out of the partially opened lid. My editor gently pointed out that not only did it not go with the five preceding covers, it was not remotely suitable. It may have worked for a YA mystery, or horror novel but not a cozy/traditional mystery.

We worked on an idea and I absolutely LOVE how the cover for Leave It to Cleaver came out! Lesson learned; the cover must tell the reader what kind of book they are getting!

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

This is a tough one… negative reviews can teach a writer more than positive ones, but negative reviews can also lead a writer down a dangerous path past self doubt and toward an inability to work. It hasn’t happened to me, but I can see how it could. I protect my creativity and seldom read reviews at all.

My way of dealing with negative reviews (if I must read them) is this: first, I look at the reviewers past reviews. Some reviewers hate most of the books they read and if that’s the case, there was little hope of pleasing them. If there is something to learn from the bad review, I try to take that in. If I’m feeling really crummy after reading a negative review I go read online reviews of books written by my favourite authors. When I read lousy reviews of fabulous books I realize (as I already know in my heart) that taste is subjective and so are reviews.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

Emotions… writers have ‘em. If that’s what you mean, then I would say the emotional state of a writer does impact their work. When things in the world go to hell, including the mental health of people, a writer often struggles. For a while I lost heart; a few years ago all I could see was angry, bitter people everywhere, and my work became unbearably preachy. But I overcame and found a way through the disappointment in humankind. All it really took was looking around and seeing that despite the public rhetoric, most people were still good and kind and giving.

I guess what I’m saying is… emotions can wreak havoc on a writer’s work. A good editor will gently say, “I think you’re going a little wrong here; maybe it’s time to re-examine the book.”

Thank heavens for good editors.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

Reading a lot and widely helps. I read true crime books and memoirs, which help me climb into other peoples’ lives for a while. It makes me see things from a different perspective.

Listening in (eavesdropping!) is good; when I’m in a public place I unashamedly eavesdrop to hear about random people’s concerns, speech patterns, how they act and think and posture.

Daydreaming; let your mind wander every once in a while! It’s amazing where it will take you.

Look at old photographs and paintings and imagine the life inside of them.

# What are your plans for future books?

I really love what I do, but balancing the needs of so many series at once is difficult. I may need to make hard choices in the near future because I have ambitions for other books and other series. But in the immediate future I have more books in all of my mystery series coming out… updates are always available on my website.

So many books, so little time!

But I also love writing short stories, and have one – Reunion with the Devil – included in the 2021 Malice Domestic Anthology, ‘Mystery Most Diabolical’. I’m so excited about it, as I never expected to get in to the anthology series on my first try! So now I am writing more mystery short stories that I plan to submit for other anthologies.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

#5 – My favourite all-time movie is Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis

#4 – I like Reality TV… I know that a lot of it is faked, but even the fake parts are interesting in how they control narratives and storylines in supposedly ‘real life’ situations.

#3 – I like lists.

#2 – I wrote a diary when I was a young teen, but it wasn’t my life; it was the life of some homicidal maniac of a teen girl who killed her brother. Weird. I have no explanation except my life was boring.

#1 – I have read everything Agatha Christie wrote, including her Mary Westmacott books, and once owned them ALL. At the same time.

Social Media Details:

Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

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Twitter: @MysteryVictoria

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