Hello! Pull up a seat, grab a drink and some cookies or fruit from the table, and get ready for a chat with Victoria Hamilton. She has a new book out and is out touring the blogosphere. "Bowled Over" is the second book in her Vintage Kitchen series and was released March 5th.
Victoria Hamilton is the pseudonym for author Donna Lea Simpson. As Victoria she writes the bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mystery series (Book 1 – A Deadly Grind – May 2012) and the upcoming Merry Muffin Mysteries, also from Berkley (Book 1 – Bran New Death – September 3rd, 2013) Victoria loves cooking and collecting vintage kitchen utensils, as well as reading and writing mysteries.
Find her online:
Bea: Victoria, thank you taking the time to answer my questions and good luck with your tour. What’s a typical day of writing for you? Are you a planner or do you wing it?
Victoria: By necessity I have become a planner, even though the planning part bores me to tears. I have to know where I’m going or it takes longer to get there… kind a metaphor for life. I write every day except Sunday, starting first thing in the morning (7 am-ish) and going until after lunch, when I will do a little promo, etc.
Bea: What prompted you to start writing? Would you continue to write if you were no longer published?
Victoria: I started writing as a kid, and I wrote for a long, long time without ever being published. But would I continue now if I was no longer published? Well, yes, because I would be determined to find a way back into publishing. I’ve been in that spot before, between contracts/no publishing contract, and I just kept writing, kept finding some new angle, some new story, some new genre. I don’t think there is any going back once you’ve tasted the wonder that is publication. And it is my living.
Bea: What is your favorite part of writing? What is your least favorite part? What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Victoria: Favorite part of writing… starting a new story, when the tale is full of potential and possibilities, before you’ve hemmed it in with the limitations of your own ability. It’s just a dewy portrait in your mind, at that point, a fresh canvas. Least favorite part… starting a new story, when you don’t know what direction to go in and are tortured by the possibility that any avenue you start down is a dead end. My most interesting writing quirk? That I can see far too many ways for something to go, and yet at the same time I’m hopelessly single-minded. I don’t know how to describe it otherwise. I know there are a million ways to write a scene, but once I start, I am like an out of control car barreling down the road, hell bent for leather, with all the mixed metaphors that implies. I’m one directional, in that sense.
Bea: Who are some of your influences? Some of your favorite writers?
Victoria: Influences? Whomever I respect as a writer: Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Stephanie Barron, Anne Perry, Joan Hess, Diane Mott Davidson, Donna Andrews (Davidson and Andrews are two of my favorite mystery writers. ~ Bea) and my new favorite, Louise Penny. Favorite writers? All of the preceding.
Bea: Was there someone who was, or is, particularly helpful to you? Was there someone who inspired you in your writing? In what way(s)?
Victoria: She won’t want me to say this, but my sister. She believed in me before I believed in myself. That’s rare. Read my dedication in Bowled Over.
Bea: What genres do you enjoy reading? Do you have any favorite authors?
Victoria: I read widely. I read mystery, but I also like literary fiction, (Water for Elephants, The Lovely Bones, etc.) historical non-fiction (The Maul and the Pear Tree) , historical fiction, etc. I read every Sue Grafton as soon as it comes out. I read Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth and World Without End obsessively. I read the YA series by Scott Westerfeld, starting with Uglies.
Bea: Does your family read your books? What do they think?
Victoria: They do, some of them. My friends like mystery novels, too, so they read them and seem to like them. I hate discussing my books, though, because I get horribly embarrassed and tend to brush past it. I’d much rather talk about almost anything else.
Bea: Do you prefer to read paper books or ebooks? Why?
Victoria: Paper, because I can pick it up and read it easily. I have a Sony ereader, but it’s out of date and keeps losing its charge, which means I have to remember to plug it in to my computer to read it. I am doing that right now, about to read Tessa Harris’s The Anatomist’s Apprentice, a historical mystery. I do love my ereader, though, because it allows me to size my font… my eyesight is getting bad, and in poor light it’s so hard to read small print. (I like that feature too. ~ Bea) Also, I can download books from my local library in two seconds, which is how I found the Tessa Harris book.
Bea: Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.
Victoria: I just finished Louise Penny’s ‘Dead Cold’ and I am slack-jawed with amazement. She is so good, it leaves me weak, just thinking of her perfection of characterization and the depth of her world. When she has a scene at a pancake breakfast, you can smell the maple syrup, and hear the chatter of café guests. She is magnificent. It’s book 2 of her Inspector Gamache series, and I have ordered Book 1, Still Life, and will read them all, now, for sheer pleasure.
Bea: If you could be a character in a book, which one would it be, and what part would you play? (Romantic lead, sidekick, etc)
Victoria: I’d be Jane Austen in Stephanie Barron’s mystery series. Love those books! And I’ve always wanted to be Jane Austen. Or… wait! V. I. Warshawski in Sara Paretsky’s books, for her fearlessness.
Bea: Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?
Victoria: The journey? I guess it would be comparable to a road trip where you know the destination and carefully plot out your route. A second book in a series has to build from the first one, and yet go over some of the same ground, for those who have not read the first book. It’s an interesting lesson in saying the same thing in a fresh way!
Bea: What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?
Victoria: I don’t know how to answer that, really. I don’t think that’s for me to say, in some senses. I fit into the Berkley Prime Crime ‘Traditional or Cozy Mystery’ group quite nicely, I suppose. so I could be compared to some of them.
Bea: Do you develop the recipes that you use in your books? If not, where do you fund them?
Victoria: I find recipes in old cookbooks and alter them to suit modern cooks, just like Jaymie Leighton (my lead character) does! That’s how it came to me actually, the whole concept for the vintage Kitchen Mystery series. I love old recipes, but they require some fiddling to a make them suitable for today’s products, methods and appliances.
Bea: What draws you to the mystery genre? Do you think you might ever try a different genre?
Victoria: I love mystery novels, but I didn’t start out as a published mystery author. I wrote romances for a long time because that paid the bills, and I’ll tell you, it was a useful apprenticeship for mystery writing because romance is all about characters, and I write character driven mystery novels. I don’t want to write anything but mysteries, though I do hope to write another historical mystery series at some point. (I wrote the Lady Anne mysteries as Donna Lea Simpson) Mysteries hold, for me, the hope and salvation for humankind; justice prevails, in most cases. Mankind is flawed but working toward a gentler incarnation, if we can just learn to be kinder to each other, less selfish, more forgiving of the little faults. Maybe that is what attracts me to Louise Penny’s books now; like Anne Perry and others of her ilk she looks the horrible truth of humankind in the face and yet sees the beauty behind our miserable state. For all our flaws, there are still more good people than bad, and the good keep striving to make the world a better place. That is the essence of a mystery novel, for me.
Bea: Anything that you want to add or say to your readers?
Victoria: Thank you. Thank you for reading my books, and taking the time to review them and talk about them. Thank you for your kind letters. Thank you for helping me achieve and keep the dream of my lifetime, becoming a mystery novelist.
Thank you, too, to Bea’s Book Nook for some of the most thought-provoking questions I’ve ever been asked. It helps, oddly enough, because it makes me look inward and think about why I love what I do, and how I want to get better at it.
There is a tour wide giveaway for Kindle books, a Kindle Touch and gift cards. There are four prize packages for authors Victoria Hamilton, Lucy Burdette, Billie Thomas, and Marie Moore.
The prizes are -
Prize 1 (US/Canada only)
* a Kindle Touch
* a $15 Amazon.com giftcard
Prize 2 (International)
* a Kindle copy of Topped Chef and Bowled Over
* a $15 Book Depository giftcard
Prize 3 (International)
* a Kindle copy of Murder on the First Day of Christmas & Game Drive
* a $15 Amazon.com giftcard
Prize 4 (US/Canada)
* your choice of a cozy mystery paperbacks (up to $25 in value)
1. Fill in the form here.
2. There is no requirement to follow any of the blogs participating, but we hope you will support these amazing blogs by following them. They do a great job, many of whom host for us every month.
3. Giveaway ends on May 15, 2013 at midnight and the winners will be contacted via email.