It is an honor to have with us best-selling author Victoria Hamilton, whose most recent work is “Shadow of a Spout,” the second in her Teapot Collector Mystery series, is released this month. Let’s welcome her and ask her a few questions. I read that our guest wanted to be a writer since she first read an Agatha Christie mystery when she was young. I think Dame Agatha made a difference in many people’s lives. I know of one woman in her late 20s who was a victim of her school system’s reading experiments and had a hard time concentrating on reading. She never read for fun until her mother-in-law insisted that she read, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”, then she forced herself to learn to read better and devoured every work of Christie’s. In fact, she was the one who introduced me to both mysteries and some romance novels. I had been reading almost all non-fiction for years; it changed my world as well. Our guest has many published works, first under her own name, Donna Lea Simpson, and another series, using the name Amanda Cooper. Perhaps our readers know her better by these. However, it took many years before you published a mystery of your own mystery, Victoria.
Welcome! Since this is a ‘romance’ based blog, I have to ask:
– You published classical, historical romances first. What led you to the genre?
– They say you should write what you read, and I did! Though I always wanted to be a mystery writer, I also loved reading the Regency romances of Mary Balogh and others. That led me to writing them, and my first published book, The Absentee Heart, at a very, very VERY small press called Rubenesque Romances in 1997. From there in 1999 I sold a book to Kensington under their Zebra imprint, Lord St. Claire’s Angel, which has just been reissued by Beyond the Page! I’m so happy all my old Regency romances are finding a whole new group of readers.
– How much did you enjoy the characters within the time-frame of the stories?
– My first love is classic literature, especially the books of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth, among others. So the opportunity to write about characters set in the Regency was such a delight. I got to read more about the era: the Napoleonic war, the clothing, the furniture and great houses in England… enjoyed every moment of it.
– Did you pick times and places which already had your interest?
– I did. I found I really enjoyed exploring (virtually, of course, and in books) Yorkshire, in the north of England. I bought books, went to the library, explored online… it’s kind of like traveling in your mind. I found that whatever interested me, I could fit into a Regency novel.
– Were your characters based on historical figures? How much research did you do and how did you do it for any of your works?
– No, I’ve ever really done that, used historical figures as inspiration. Research is a great love of mine, but when I first started writing, I didn’t have internet. It’s hard to imagine now, in this digital age, but in the nineties I spent a lot of time with library books and at used books stores. My most recent romance type works, the ‘Awaiting’ paranormal romance series (Werewolves and set in 1790s Germany!) and the Lady Anne Mysteries, (Set in Georgian England!) were written in the 2000s, so the internet made researching a lot simpler. However, you do have to be selective, because not every source is reliable. I once spent a whole afternoon on a site thinking I was learning Gypsy/Rom slang, when I was actually on a site dedicated to a video game, and the language was mostly made up. I’m just glad I figured it out before I used any of it!
– I have never found a romance novel that didn’t include a mystery of some sort. What made you shift gears and go into cozy mysteries?
– It didn’t feel like a shift of gears, rather the fulfillment of my life’s goal. I’ve always read mysteries. As you already mentioned, I started out reading Agatha Christie and other classic mysteries, but then I moved on to Charlotte MacLeod, Susan Dunlap, Virginia Rich, Gillian Roberts and others. It was natural for me to write cozy mysteries, and I think it has more in common with my romance writing than you may think. Both genres are character based, which is what I love most. Actually, as a side note, my long romance writing career is what caused me to use a pseudonym (Victoria Hamilton) for my mystery writing. My real name is so associated with romance novels, we thought it was best to choose a nom de plume.
– Do you base your characters on parts of your personality or people that you know?
– Yes and no. My characters come from observation of people, of course, but I never just lift a person’s traits and insert them into a character. It’s like cooking; an apple is an ingredient, but by the time it’s in a pie, or apple butter, the original form is gone. It’s been transformed into something wholly different. But I would say that each of my main characters has a part of me in them. Jaymie Leighton (Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, written as Victoria Hamilton) has my deep love of home and my rootedness to my city and even my neighborhood, which feels like a small town, to me. Merry Wynter (Merry Muffin Mysteries, written as Victoria Hamilton) has my love of classical music, my sense of humor, and my bemused view of the world and the people around me. Sophie Taylor (Teapot Collector Mysteries, written as Amanda Cooper) is less me than the other two, but I do think she has my optimism and love of people.
– I have shelves of teapots and cups around me as I type! Tell us about your Teapot Mysteries.
– The Teapot Collector Mysteries idea actually came from an editor who was looking for an author willing to write them. I fit the bill and loved the idea from the start. That’s why I took another name (Amanda Cooper) for this series, though; since it was my editor’s invention, the idea stays with them, and so would the author name, if I ever stopped writing them. I love the setting, a tearoom, and the idea of collecting teapots. I have limited space, so I only have a few teapots, but have more – dozens and dozens – of teacups. Sophie Taylor, the main character, is fiercely protective of her grandmother (Nana) and loves Gracious Grove, the town in which the series is set. But it’s a mystery series, of course, so folks keep getting murdered, and she and her Nana, her godmother, Laverne, and the quirky, hilarious neighbor, Thelma Mae Earnshaw, have to keep figuring out whodunit!
– How can our readers learn more about you and your works?
– I am online everywhere! Here are a few links to follow me, and learn more about the Teapot Collector Mysteries:
Killer Characters – 21st of each month: http://www.killercharacters.com
Victoria Hamilton/Amanda Cooper on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaHamilton
Teapot Collector Mysteries on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Coopers-Teapot-Collector-Mysteries/296605927102353
Teapot Collector Mysteries on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/vintagekitchenm/teapot-collector-mysteries/
And here is a little more about Shadow of a Spout:
Avid teapot collector Rose Freemont takes a break from her Victorian tea house only to find a new mystery brewing elsewhere…
Leaving her home in Gracious Grove behind her, Rose is off to the annual convention of the International Teapot Collector’s Society. Her granddaughter Sophie is minding the tea house while she’s away. Rose is eager for tough cookie Zunia Pettigrew to appraise a prized antique teapot she believes may be a holy water vessel from China.
But when Zunia declares the pot a fake, Rose is really steamed. After Zunia’s found dead beside Rose’s dinged-in teapot, Sophie must rush to her grandmother’s aid and find the real killer—before Rose is steeped in any more trouble…
Well, that certainly has my interest! Thank you, Victoria.
Readers, Victoria/Donna/Amanda has very, very generously offered several give-aways!
#1: A copies of both the first of the Teapot Collector series, “Tempest in a Teapot AND the newest release, “Shadow of a Spout”!
#2: A $10.00 gift certificate for Omni Bucks to be used at All Romance Books (ARe);( you can use it toward any book,maybe get started on the Teapot series?)
#3: With a nod to our romance roots here at 4F,1H, a lovely tote bag, “Writing is my passion” and Donna Lea Simpson matching pen, (I suggest you use it to carry all of your Victoria Hamilton works and to make sure you write your name in them!)
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment by midnight [EDT] on Thursday, April 9, 2015. I’ll post the winners on my post on the following day. Please include an email address in your post, or if you prefer not to do so publicly, please private message me, Tonette Joyce, on Facebook.
Please stop by to thank our guest, Victoria Hamilton, for visiting with us and for her gifts.
[ WordPress is very busy or very temperamental today. It often makes me approve comments by those new to the blog and sometimes, the posts don’t show up…please check back to see that your comments have posted.If not, please repost to make sure that you are entered. Thanks.]