Today we welcome Victoria Hamilton.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Victoria Hamilton: I have friends and family, and love singing karaoke, drinking cheap wine and hanging out. I enjoy television – especially How To Get Away With Murder and some sitcoms – and reading. I’ve always been a crafter, but life is so busy, isn’t it? And I don’t always get to the beading, cross-stitch and crochet projects I have planned!
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Victoria Hamilton: I always wanted to write mystery novels, but started my career writing Regency romances, partly because it was easier to get published in romance. I love mystery novels and always have, from a very young age. I read my first Agatha Christie at 12 years old… skipped right over Nancy Drew, etcetera to adult mysteries! I write the Vintage Kitchen and Merry Muffin Mystery series, both traditional or cozy mysteries. But I’ve recently signed a contract for a historical mystery series, A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Victoria Hamilton: Oh, yes! In fact I have multiple works in progress. I am writing Book #7 of my Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, entitled No Grater Danger. I’m working on a couple of other ideas for cozy mysteries as well. But I’m also writing a historical mystery set in the Regency era for Midnight Ink, who I am really excited to work with! The working title is A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder, and it features a heroic Regency damsel who both fights crime AND writes a scandal column for a newspaper. Scandal columns were extremely popular in the Regency era, something many folks don’t realize; readers didn’t care if it was true or false, they ate up gossip!
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Victoria Hamilton: What I’m writing right now, the historical, is certainly most difficult. It deals with difficult subject matter—the abuse of children which was, unfortunately, far too prevalent in a time when little girls at the age of eleven or twelve became prostitutes on the streets of London—and it’s hard to balance being true to the times with my own thoughts and feelings.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Victoria Hamilton: Extensive! Back when I first started writing Regency romances I didn’t have internet access for the most part, and it was hard to get things right because I just didn’t know enough. Now there is a lot of information on the internet, and I do use it, but I also refer to my extensive library of historical research books by writers like Amanda Vickers and Lucy Worsley. I also often watch documentaries by the BBC and research sites that have historical art and interiors. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever loved.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Victoria Hamilton: I read a lot of thriller-type fiction, like Gone Girl, etcetera, but I read other mysteries, too. My favorite authors are Sue Grafton and Anne Perry. Anne Perry’s work inspires me and though I’ll never reach her level of artistic perfection, reading her books makes me a better writer.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Victoria Hamilton: She’s going to hate this, but… my sister (who is also a writer). She believed in me from the start, and is still my best support system.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Victoria Hamilton: Plotting I find tedious and difficult (a labor of love!) but I do enjoy creating characters. I think that’s my strong suit, making people who are realistic and flawed, but relatable.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Victoria Hamilton: I write almost every day, and do have a strict routine. Every weekday (except when I need to go out for something) I write, starting first thing in the morning. I also do a lot of social media, so I try to do some of that in the morning. I sometimes write on the weekends as well, especially when I’m approaching a deadline.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Victoria Hamilton: Wow… that’s kind of a hard one. I adapt to changing circumstances in my own writing life, as well as the market. So, in one scenario I see myself continuing to write this new historical mystery series, and continuing with the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and possibly the Merry Muffin Mysteries. But I do have ambitions to do another contemporary mystery series, one with a little grit, kind of what they are starting to call ‘Cozy Noir’… LOL! It will depend completely on how my career goes and what the publishing industry is up to.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Victoria Hamilton: Easy… be adaptable. If your ambition is to be a full time professional author, you need to be prepared to write in whatever genre you can get published in – as long as you do love it! I would never recommend someone write just to satisfy a current trend, because you really do have to love what you’re writing, and trends shift constantly. Also, start writing another book the moment you’re done the first. Don’t be discouraged if your first book doesn’t sell. I wrote several books before finding a publisher. Just keep writing.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Victoria Hamilton: A couple of times readers have said a book of mine made them cry; that means I did something right, made it real, made them care. That’s a big one.
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
Victoria Hamilton: From Leave It to Cleaver, Book#6 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, published June 23rd, 2017.
Jaymie clambered toward her sister over boxes of magazines. Since the cellar stairs were off the kitchen, at the back of the house, they were moving through the rooms toward the front of the house. “I wish I’d brought a flashlight,” she muttered.
“Like this?” Becca asked, and a blade of light cut the gloom.
“Sheesh. You had that the whole time?”
They moved together, following the light, and got to the last room of the Paget house basement, a low ceilinged, dank, cobwebby earth floored room where the furnace squatted, glowering in the corner, and the rusty water heater sat on a brick pad. The smell was indescribable, a mingling of dead animal—probably a raccoon or possum had crept in through the crawlspace and died—and damp dirt, with a soupçon of vegetation rot. Weeds had grown in through gaps in the cracked windows and rotting window frames.
“It is spooky! There’s nothing here; let’s go back.” Jaymie shivered, though it was warm and airless in the room.
“Wait, there is one thing: a trunk.”
Jaymie laughed, but it came out a shaky. “Right, it had to be a big old trunk. With my luck it probably has a body in it. You haven’t killed anyone lately, have you?”
Becca sighed and trained the beam from the flashlight on it. “Well now we have to open it,” she said. “Just to show you that it’s nothing but old clothes. I don’t want my wittle sister to have nightmares.”
Jaymie groaned at her mocking tone. “All right, okay, let’s do it. You know me better than that. I’m not afraid, just creeped out.”
It was a very old, rather large trunk, with patches of blue-painted metal still showing through rust. The clasp was rusted, too, but there was no lock on it, so with some effort Jaymie got the hasp open. The lid was stuck. It took both of them tugging to get it to begin to lift. It smelled wretched, like ancient body odor once they cracked it, but the lid finally came up with a creak.
“Darn it!” Becca screeched.
Jaymie jumped. “What? What’s wrong?”
“I broke a nail.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Becca! You scared the life out of me.”
Becca shone the light into the trunk where some vivid red knitted cloth was visible. “See, I told you; just a wig and some old clothes.”
Jaymie stared, perplexed, into the trunk. “Why would anyone store it full of a wig and clothes in the damp depths of the basement?” There was some other stuff, like a wooden handle of something tangled in with the wig. “So weird,” she mumbled. “Maybe it’s a Hallowe’en costume?”
Jaymie stared down at the sweater under the blondish wig, a stained piece handknit of a weirdly vibrant red synthetic. She reached out to touch the wooden handle, but when she did it felt stuck, and the hair shifted. A low moan erupted from her throat and she bolted to her feet, followed by Becca. They stared at each other and clutched their hands as the flashlight, which Becca had dropped, stopped whirling on the dirt floor.
“Is that… is it…?” Becca cried.
“I think s-so, I think… no, I know… that’s a cleaver in a sk-skull. It’s a b-bo—”
“Jaymie, shut up!” Becca said, her tone strangled. She squeezed Jaymie’s hands and stared into her eyes.
“I recognize that sweater,” Becca said, her tone agonized…
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries
Facebook: Author Victoria Hamilton
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