Sunday, November 3, 2013

Victoria Hamilton Visits

I'm thrilled to welcome Victoria Hamilton back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Freezer I'll Shoot, the third of her Vintage Kitchen Mystery series will be released this Tuesday. 
Kathy - When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

VH - By default I fall somewhere in between. I always start out with the best of intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions, and pathways to the inferno? That’s where I am right now, in deadline hell. It always begins the same, innocently enough, with the determination to plot my way to the end, clues and all, so I won’t end up in trouble. However… inevitably, I get excited about the book and writing is way more fun than plotting, so I end up racing ahead until the point where I start moaning that I don’t know how I got into this mess.

Kathy - When writing a series it seems as if authors get 3 book contracts, which may or may not be renewed. Not to reference a specific series, but do you have long range plans for book series at the onset? Ideas, but no firm plans for future books? Or do the series have plans which may or may not come to fruition if the publisher ends the series prematurely?

VH – What a GREAT question! I’ve never been asked that before. So, here goes… I always head into a series with vague long term goals. When I wrote romance I would have it more nailed down and I was disappointed every time, so I never write cliffhangers beyond the contracted books unless I already have a contract for more, but I do have amorphous plots in mind, avenues I’d like to explore, places I’d like to go with characters.

However… often times the plans I start with are not the ones I end up with. In this case, with Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, I am near the deadline for book 4, and I find that things I expected to happen are not, and new events are occurring quite naturally. Jaymie is on a voyage of self-discovery that will take her to personal and professional happiness, I hope. But it all evolves quite naturally, and as in real life, disappointments often lead to surprising happiness.

If I am allowed to continue beyond the current contract (up to Book 5 in the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries) then I’ll figure out where Jaymie is going beyond the already planned period.

It’s funny, but I don’t like to make ‘set-in-stone’ plans beyond a series’ contract because I’m just superstitious enough to fear I’ll jinx myself!

Kathy - When thinking about book covers I always remember the British television series As Time Goes By. Lionel has written a book about his life in Kenya (called My Life in Kenya) and his publisher says he needs a cover that says "pick me up and buy me". I won't go in to tell you how that turned out...but I find it a relevant and important statement. If a person is browsing for books, it's often that cover art which attracts the attention of the possible buyer first. I've also heard that authors don't have a lot, if any, say in this matter. Can you tell us about your covers and cover art? Did you give any suggestions as to what the covers should be like? Did you have any say in the matter at all? Do you know your cover artist? Personally, I do like all of your covers. I think my favorite though is Bran New Death, your first Merry Muffin mystery. Do you have a favorite cover?

VH – Covers really are very important. I know that because when I’m scanning the bookshelf at a used book store, I pick books by cover to look at. I know instantly even just by the spine – because of the publishers’ formatting – if it’s my kind of book. That’s not to say I don’t head off the beaten path sometimes. Some of the best books I’ve ever read had uninspired covers.

So… I can’t speak for other authors, but this is how it works for me. I give hints and suggestions, and I often provide reference material. The original of the Hoosier cabinet on A Deadly Grind is sitting in my kitchen! The bowls on Bowled Over are on my shelves. The cover art on Freezer I’ll Shoot is loosely based on my description of Rose Tree Cottage, the Leighton’s summer place on Heartbreak island.

And no, I don’t have a ‘favorite’ cover (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) Actually, I do, but I’m not saying which. Wouldn’t want the other kiddies to be jealous, would I?

Kathy - I'm so thrilled to see Jaymie back for another adventure. Freezer I'll Shoot involves a restaurant located in what was once an actual ice house. Is The Ice House Restaurant based on a real restaurant, or just a cool idea?

VH – Just a cool idea that came from my ghoulish desire to have an ice pick be the murder weapon. I needed a place where an ice pick would be featured, and so the Ice House restaurant was born! But it is true that there were a lot of ice houses along the shores of the Great Lakes and St. Clair River. I had fun with the research. Did you know that the ice pick was the murder weapon of choice for many gangsters? That’s the kind of stuff mystery writers love!

Thank you so much for having me, Kathy! I had fun.


Title: Freezer I’ll Shoot

Pub. Date: November 5th, 2013

Series: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, Book 3

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Author: Victoria Hamilton

About Freezer I’ll Shoot:

Trying to escape her overbearing mother, vintage kitchenware enthusiast and soon-to-be columnist Jaymie Leighton retreats to her family’s cottage on Heartbreak Island. While there she hopes to write an article about the Ice House restaurant, owned by good friends and neighbors, siblings Ruby and Garnet Redmond. Once and actual icehouse, the restaurant is charmingly decorated with antique tools of the trade, including a collection of ice picks.

One night, while working on her article, Jaymie overhears an argument, and, ever the sleuth, sets out to explore. But when she stumbles upon a dead body, her blood runs cold. It’s Urban Dobrinskie, whose feud with the Redmonds is no secret, and he’s got an ice pick through his heart. Now Jaymie’s got to sharpen her sleuthing skills to chip away at the mystery and prove her neighbors’ innocence – before someone else gets picked off…


Victoria Hamilton, nationally bestselling author of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, is the pseudonym of Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of romance and historical mystery novels.

Victoria starting reading mystery novels at the age of 12 and devoured Agatha Christie mysteries, as well as those of Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. She still adores mysteries, especially the cozy mysteries of Janet Bolin, Krista Davis, and others.

She loves to cook, and collects teapots and teacups, as well as vintage kitchen utensils and bowls. She also enjoys crafts, especially cross-stitching and crocheting, and spends summer days in the garden, drinking tea or wine. Besides the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series Victoria also writes the Merry Muffin Mystery series (Bran New Death – September 3rd) and the Teapot Collector Mystery series which debuts with Tempest in a Teapot, out June 3rd, 2014.

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  1. I love this series, hope it runs for a long time. Can't wait for this new book.

  2. Already a fan of this series, so I look forward to this story.

  3. I have had this on preorder for a while now and cn't wait!

  4. I love to read cozy series. It's like revisiting an old friend when each new book in a series comes out.

  5. I love cozy mysteries because I like trying to solve a mystery without a lot of violence. Cozy mysteries also often have characters I can identify with.

  6. Looking forward to reading this series.

  7. Jaymie is one of my favorite characters, so I can't wait to see what's in store for her in Freezer I'll Shoot.

  8. I like Cozy Mysteries because it's fun trying to figure out who the killer is.


  9. They are usually fun. I like that the lead is someone like me (or like I would love to be) Cozies are usually really easy to read or they should be.

  10. I like cozies because the characters are usually a little bit quirky and there is not a lot of blood and gore in the murder. They are light and fun.

  11. Such a great interview! I enjoy cozy mysteries, and I look forward to reading this one!

  12. Cozies are fun with interesting themes and characters.

  13. Cozy mysteries are so good because there is mystery and good, clean romance but none of the gore and creepiness. They are clean enough that my grandkids can be reading over my shoulder.

  14. I like cozy mysteries because they are comfortable. I guess by that I mean -- they are usually a bit humorous, they're clean (even a murder isn't all gory - and any 'romance' is more hinted at), there sometimes is a romantic element, and usually they're not so convoluted in story line one gets blogged down. Oh, and often there are quirky characters, sometimes animals, and often recipes.
    Kathy, ATGB is my favorite ever TV show!

  15. I loved the series As Time Goes By and vividly remember the episode with Lionel's book over shoot! I agree that a cover makes me pick a book up most of the time. I was under the impression that only very "big" authors get to chose their cover art, is that not so?

    I love everything about Cozy mysteries, from the amateur sleuth, to the clean language, to the happy ending. In a world filled with bad stuff, it is nice to escape to characters who I like doing good for others.

  16. Great interview, Kathy and Victoria. I loved the questions and the answers! And yes, I remember As Time Goes By, though I don't think I saw the episode in question. It's funny; we all know the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover," and yet we do it all the time. Well, we've got to narrow down the choices somehow; it's impossible to read everything.

    I've mentioned (on other blogs) several reasons why I like cozy mysteries, but one big reason is the satisfaction of knowing that justice and good will triumph -- or as Maureen said above, the happy endings.