R: Welcome, Victoria! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
VH: There was never a time when I didn’t want to be a writer, but it took me a while to believe it was possible. If I would have one word of advice for young people, it’s figure out what you want to do, and then figure out your path to how you can do it.
R: Tell us about your two series, Vintage Kitchen and Merry Muffin. What inspired them? Have you always had an interest in cooking?
VH: I’ve been cooking since I was nine years old, and it’s just part of life, to me. I’ve got my mother’s old cookbook, the one she handwrote in the fifties, so that got me interested in vintage recipes. And muffins? My favorite thing to bake! So easy, so good, so versatile, from bacon, to cheddar to blueberries to banana, there is nothing you can’t put in a muffin.
R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
VH: In my genre? I’m not sure how to answer that. If we take the mystery genre at large I read Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Anne Perry. I never did separate books out into sub-genres really, until I started writing what are called Cozies. So among books that could be categorized as cozies or traditional mysteries, my favorites have been Gillian Roberts, Joan Hess, Mary Daheim and Diane Mott Davidson.
R: Tell us about your latest release.
VH: Freezer I’ll Shoot is #3 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries. Jaymie, out on Heartbreak Island to look after her family’s cottage while some necessary work is done, stumbles over a dead body (of course) in her own back yard. When her neighbors are implicated, she feels that they are being targeted and can’t help but become involved.
R: You said you have a cat named “Poodle?” I’ll bet there’s an interesting story there – care to share?
VH: Well… I took on this little stray ginger and white and couldn’t decide on a name. Eventually he became Pookee, but it still just wasn’t right. He’s a funny little guy. He’s always got his nose in the air or to the ground, he won’t stay inside, and has made best friends with the husky next door. Somehow we just started calling him Poodle and it stuck!
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
VH: My ‘how I got my agent’ story may actually be inspirational for some writers because I think it shows the value of perseverance. I am on my third agent. The first one was a total dud who gave up after the very first rejection. The first! The second was a great guy, and we had a professional relationship for many years, while I was writing romance novels. I always wanted to write ,mystery though; romance writing was supposed to be a stepping stone. (A great stepping stone! I really enjoyed and still do writing romance novels; I think it is a wonderful training ground too for learning how to create characters.)
But it became clear that my agent just didn’t ‘get’ mystery fiction. He wasn’t interested in it, so we talked, and I asked if he’d be okay with me looking for another agent. We parted amicably, while I searched. Though I approached quite a few agents, I knew who I wanted and I went after her. However… she rejected my first proposal. I took it in stride and asked for advice, which she gave me. Then she shut down to submissions for four months on mat leave! Four months!
In the meantime I took her advice and crafted the very best proposal I could come up with (it became A Deadly Grind, Book 1 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries) and submitted to her the day after she reopened for submissions. Well, she loved the proposal, accepted me as a client, and today, three years and three series in, I couldn’t be happier.
But it never would have happened if I a) gave up, or b) didn’t take her advice. Yes, I had a headstart as a published author, but a great proposal and a willingness to listen trumps everything!
When I learned that A Deadly Grind had been accepted for publication by Berkley with a three book deal, I almost cried… I’d been waiting so long for that day!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
VH: I would be behind the scullery door listening in when Jane Austen first learned her novel was to be published. I would have loved to meet JA, just to sit and talk and learn.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
VH: That’s really difficult. Pick one: A) I’ve never taken a writing course, nor have I ever been to a writing or mystery conference. B) I wrote my first novel in longhand. C) I get squirmy when someone compliments my writing.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
VH: I don’t do crazy.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
VH: My most fervent hope is that the people I create will live in people’s thoughts like they do in mine. I’m not always sure I’ve hit the mark, so when I get a letter telling me how a character I created affected someone, it makes my day. My month. My year!
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
VH: I’m always working on something. I have an extremely tight schedule. Right now I am working on Teapot Collector Mysteries #2, which is as of yet untitled. I’ll then move on to Merry Muffin Mysteries #3, and then Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #5.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
VH: By necessity, a plotter. I’m getting better at this, but it’s a laborious process the way I do it. First a synopsis, which becomes the proposal for my editor. Then I take that proposal and flesh it out into a chapter by chapter outline. I write from the outline, but deviate from it liberally.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
VH: A bottle of wine and the karaoke machine; that’s about the extent of my party tricks… LOL. Hobbies, I have many! I read. All the time. I also do crafts: jewellery making, crocheting, cooking. I collect: cat figurines, teacups, teapots, jewellery. Ad Infinitum.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My website: http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com
Also, from my Facebook page you will find individual pages for each of my three mystery series!
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat. I love me some kittens! I love dogs, too, but cats are so much lower maintenance… I used to think until I got Poodle, who demands to go out and come in a million times a day. (Big smirk from ROCCO – Cheshire size!)
Beach or Pool? Beach for relaxation, pool for swimming.
Steak or salad? Yes please! Actually, if I have to choose, salad.
Favorite Drink? Tea or wine.
Favorite Book? Pride and Prejudice, for literature.
Favorite TV Series? Oooh… tough one. Mike & Molly? Big Bang Theory? Once Upon A Time?
Favorite Movie? The Holiday… Kate Winslet was fabulous, and I thought that the REAL love story was her and Eli Wallach. Perfection!
Favorite Actor: Colin Firth or Samuel L. Jackson. Tough call.
Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep or Kate Winslet… another tough call!
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Oh, Pina Colada, please!!
Hawaii or Alaska? Neither… I need a full set of seasons!!
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be… Jane Austen.
If I had just one wish, it would be… perfect health for all my loved ones.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be… no one. I’m perfectly happy. My theory is, if you changed places with someone else, you take on all of their troubles, health and otherwise. I’m healthy and happy and doing the work I love best in the world; why would I want to change?
R: Thank you for a great interview, Victoria!
VH: Thanks for having me, ROCCO!
Folks, Victoria will be giving away two copies of Freezer I’ll Shoot, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #3 to commenters! To enter, leave a comment below with your email address (comments without email addy will be disqualified, sorry!)
For extra entries, you can:
Friend the Human, Toni Lotempio, or/and Victoria on FB
Follow moi on Twitter #RoccoBlogger
Tweet or FB about this blog/contest (gets 3 extra entries)
Be sure to list all you’ve done in the comments! Good luck!
Next week: A guest post from HP Mallory! Meow!