Kathy – I’ve heard some debate as to location of a series. Some say that readers (at least US readers) are less likely to buy a book set in Canada than one set in the US. I don't understand that; perhaps because I grew up on the US/Canadian border. Heck, I'm more familiar with Toronto than New York City. In fact, I've never been to NYC! You live in Canada, but strategically placed your story in Queensville, Michigan-right on the border. Was this your decision, or your publisher's?
VH – I know what you mean… I don’t really care where a book is set, as long as it is well written and interesting. However, it was my decision and demanded somewhat by the marketplace. I desperately wanted to become a published author in the cozy market, and knew my odds would be better if I set my series in the US. But I purposely created a town close to where I live in Canada. I grew up going to the beach (Lake Huron) and knew lots of Michanders and Ohioans growing up, so it felt like home to me. I also created Jaymie Leighton’s family to sort of straddle the border in a way; her sister and grandmother live in Canada.
Kathy - In addition to collecting vintage kitchenware, Jaymie also collects cookbooks. I collect cookbooks too, although I rarely cook from them. What about you? Do you collect them and if you do, do you actually try the recipes?
VH – I do collect them, but I more often cook from my mother’s old recipes and tried and true ones of my own, as well as others I find on the internet.
Kathy - Jaymie is able to take old recipes and make them accessible to modern day cooks. There is a definite skill to that. Are you able to do that as well?
VH – Oh, sure! I love reading old recipes and figuring out what a ‘medium’ oven, or ‘top milk’ is. It’s an insight into how people cooked then, kind of a view into the past.
Kathy - Do you enjoy old fashioned recipes, modern ones, or combinations?
VH – I like comfort food recipes, and I really enjoy reading old recipes that were published in the newspapers, or handwritten on recipe cards! I use all kinds of recipes… I’m an old-fashioned kind of cook in that way. But most often, I have to admit, I make soups, stews, chili and sauces with no recipe at all.
Kathy - Do you have a favorite piece of vintage kitchenware? A dream piece?
VH – The kitchen cabinet pictured on the cover of A Deadly Grind has to be my favorite piece! It is beautiful and useful… two great features.
Kathy - I love the fact that you have a differently abled pet in the series. How did Hoppy come about?
VH – I get choked up when I see stories about amputee pups or cats. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. Hoppy just kind of happened… I didn’t really plan it out, I just knew that Jaymie had a Yorkie-Poo with three legs named Hoppy, and a crabby tabby named Denver. I have no idea why he is called Denver.
Kathy - What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
VH - I love the ‘world creation’ aspect a lot. I had so much fun creating Queensville, Michigan, and imagining the history of a town on the St. Clair with the heart shaped island in the middle, divided between the world’s two best national friends, Canada and the US. I like that aspect of other cozies, as well, but I also like the cozy sub-genre’s focus on the mystery, not the grotesque homicide itself. I’m not a fan of gore.
Kathy - You write in other genres as well. Would you tell us about that.
VH – I have been a writer quite a while and got my start in Regency romances. I happily wrote those for six years, and then wrote a paranormal (werewolf) historical romance trilogy set in Germany and England, then a historical romantic mystery trilogy set in England, the Lady Anne mysteries, all under my ‘real’ name, Donna Lea Simpson. I loved every moment of it!
Kathy - Tell us about your series. (Please describe your series in a sentence or two.)
VH - Vintage Kitchen Mysteries: Homebody Jaymie Leighton collects vintage kitchen collectibles and cookbooks, and now it appears that she collects mysteries, too, and solves them! With the aid of her intrepid three-legged Yorkie-Poo and snoopy best friend Valetta, she solves murders which happen with alarming frequency in Queensville Michigan. She also verbally spars with handsome Detective Zachary Christian, and tries to figure out her relationship with sweet-natured multi-millionaire Daniel Collins!
Kathy - Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
VH – I love Valetta… she’d definitely be my friend in real life… snoopy, smart, and yet with a big heart.
Kathy - If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
VH - Oooh… love this parlor game. 1) Jane Austen: No brainer. I’d like to know what she would think of her current favor in the public. 2) Sue Grafton: I’d like to pick her brain. 3) Stephanie Barron: Ditto. 4) M. C. Beaton: I love her books and think she’d be fun to talk to!
Kathy - Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
VH – Which ones? LOL. I do a lot of crafts, especially cross stitch. I’ve been working on a big cross stitch of a Hoosier-style cabinet for years! I’ve started crocheting again, and love to make bead jewelry. I cook and read and play Hidden Chronicles far too much!
Kathy - Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
VH – Hmm… pasta, canned tomatoes, salad veggies, yogurt.
Kathy - I know you have a new series coming up, could you tell us about all of your different series and their plans for the future?
Vintage Kitchen Mysteries: Freezer I’ll Shoot, Book 3, is out November 5th of this year, and it has been renewed for books 4 & 5… I’m so pleased about that!
Merry Muffin Mysteries: Bran New Death (I put down the wrong title in my bio - L) is Book 1 and comes out September 3rd. I am so looking forward to this book’s release. I’m excited about the series and hope readers love it as much as I do. My heroine, Merry Wynter, inherits a castle (Yes, a castle) in Upstate New York near a weird little town called Autumn Vale. She visits to try to sell it, but finds it infested with huge holes on the property, and then discovers the dead body of a guy she threatened at the bottom of one of them! Merry bakes muffins – coincidentally my favorite thing to bake, too - and I’ll feature at least one muffin recipe at the end of each book.
Teapot Collector Mysteries, written as Amanda Cooper: Tempest in a Teapot comes out in June of NEXT year, 2014. I love teapots and teacups, so this series was just such a good fit, and I’m so happy about it. I’ll talk more about it as the time approaches.
Kathy - What's your favorite thing about being an author?
VH – Of course I love to write, and can’t imagine a day without it, but one thing I really enjoy is connecting with readers. I’ve been fortunate to have books published, now, in the genre I have always loved so much, and hearing from readers what they like about the book, or what touched them, or their own stories about their collections, or places they’ve been… that is the best! Icing on a tasty cake.
Kathy - Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
VH – Thank you so much for having me. It’s always fun to talk about writing and my mystery series!
This interview is part of The Fantastic 4 Cozy Mystery Book Tour Giveaway. Visit the Cozy Mystery Book Tour Page where you can learn how you may just win a Kindle Touch, cozy mystery books, gift cards, and more!