Kathy: Anne Hillstrom is an antique hunter. Do you collect antiques?
VV: Yes, I based the series on the weekends I spent antique shopping with my real-life friends Anne and CC. We would go antiquing every weekend and as a writer I began chronicling our adventures. Though we never stumbled across any real-life murders.
Kathy: What's your favorite style of antique? Do you have a favorite period or type of object?
VV: I've gone through several periods. When I first started antiquing, we had just bought our house so I looked for pieces to fill the space, including an Eastlake framed picture, several jadeite bowls and a 1920s brass flower stand. Currently as my house is out of space, I have been buying antique fine jewelry. In terms of time periods, I veer toward Edwardian pieces, Victorian and occasionally art deco.
Kathy: In Killer Finds Anne's identity has been stolen. What an absolute nightmare. Have you had to deal with such a horror?
VV: Not on such a large scale. I've had my credit card information stolen a few times. I received a call one time from Chase asking me if I was checking into a hotel in Toronto while I was sitting at home in Chicago. I also had my debit card used in Florida while I was at home. These were very scary situations.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
VV: I've loved cozy mysteries forever. I grew up on my mother's Nancy Drew books and then evolved into reading Cherry Ames and Vicki Barr. I changed the spelling of my first name after reading the Vicki Barr mysteries. I've also read all Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. I enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together and getting involved in the actual solving of the case.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
VV: I have a science fiction novel that I wrote with my husband, which was recently published by Zharmae press. It is called the Lexicon and loosely based on my travels to Sudan, Africa.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
VV: The antique hunters mystery series is about two best friends who love to shop for antiques and collectibles, and trouble seems to find them. I recently started a second series, called Alex Kustodia Mysteries, about a gem hunter. I love gemstones and have always dreamed of traveling the world to find them. I also publish a series called Neighborhood Watch based on the not-so-real-life adventures of my next-door neighbor.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
VV: I don't necessarily have a favorite character though I am partial to Alex in Gem Hunter. She is Russian like me. She is fearless and shares my love of gemstones.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
VV: I was inspired by my weekly excursions with my girlfriends as well as a certain pair of flowered capri pants that my friend wears.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
VV: I was hoping that readers would enjoy my characters as much as I do.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
VV: This is an interesting question. I feel like I should say something literary like Fitzgerald, who I love, or Steinbeck. I would love to meet Jane Austen. I've read her books over and over. I would also invite Margaret Mitchell because I admire her writing and she shares my journalistic background. Then that leaves me with L.M. Montgomery who wrote Anne of Green Gables (I've read her journals, she is very interesting). My last choice would be Stephen King because his books keep me up at night and I want to know how he lives in his world.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
VV: Not as much as I'd like as we just brought home a 10-week-old puppy but it doesn't stop me from having three or four books going at once. I am almost finished with the Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, and I am also reading Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur Vanderbilt. Those are both research for the next antique hunters mystery as the girls visit the Biltmore, Vanderbilt estate, in Asheville, N.C. I am also reading A Lasting Passion, the letters of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov. This is research for my next Gem Hunter book. For light reading, I am reading The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. I just finished the Woman in the Photo which I found very interesting.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
VV: My hobbies include antique shopping. reading and playing with my puppy.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
VV:Diet Coke, skinny pop, chocolate and water. Like my character Anne Hillstrom, I am on a low-carb diet so I am trying not to keep junk food in the house. Chocolate and popcorn do not count as junk.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
VV: I just completed the first draft for the fourth book in the Antique Hunters series and am working on the fifth book and the second book in the Gem Hunter series.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
VV: I love creating my characters and developing their worlds.