Victoria Hamilton: Not difficult at all, really. My romances are Regency, historical and paranormal, and so far removed from what I write now, that it’s like I’ve split into two! Victoria is who I am every day now, but I am still Donna in real life, and when I promote my romance novels.
Lark: With a successful career in writing historical romances and mysteries, what drew you to the contemporary cozy genre?
Victoria: Many moons ago my sole ambition was to be a mystery author. However, after writing a few mysteries and having them turned down, I decided I wanted to be published one way or another, and I also loved Regency romance so… it wasn’t hard to make the decision that I would try my hand at romance and see what happened. What happened was publication with my very first book and breaking into a major publisher with my second!
So now, many years later, I’ve ended up where I intended to go all along.
Lark: Your biography mentions Jane Austen and Agatha Christie as early influences. Who besides Christie has influenced you as a cozy mystery writer?
Victoria: I always credit Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky with being my inspirations, though neither of them are cozy writers. I didn’t even know what a ‘cozy’ or ‘traditional’ was until I started to try specifically to write one, and then I figured out that it was a natural fit for my likes and dislikes and my personality. I really love all the stuff I write about: collecting vintage kitchenalia, cooking, tea and teapots… it’s all me!
Lark: Take us through a typical writing day. Where and when do you write? Do you use a computer, typewriter, or write by hand?
Victoria: My typical day? Get up, get coffee, sit down at my desk, turn on computer, write. Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that, but not much. I often have to do a little business first, write some emails, or check out Facebook, (my second home). I might drop in on a blog where I’m featured, if I have a release that month, or write a blog. But generally speaking it is get up, get coffee… go to computer! Sit! Write my quota or more!
Lark: How do you research your books? Do you visit the settings you hope to use?
Victoria: I’ll let you in on a little secret… I don’t travel, at all. And I live in Canada. However, for book setting ease, I set my series in the US. My settings are fictional, though, not specific to the state or area I set them in, so I do research, and only use a setting that through my research look familiar to me. Michigan, upstate New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania… many areas in these northern states look much like my Southwestern Ontario home! I would never try to set a novel in Florida, or Texas; I have never been there and can’t imagine what day to day life is like there, so it just wouldn’t work.
Lark: I love the title, Freezer I’ll Shoot. Did you have to go through a lot of other titles before you came up with such a clever, perfect one?
Victoria: Ah, well, thank the good folks at Berkley Prime Crime for this title! I usually come up with my own, but no one was over fond of my ideas this time around, so they pitched this one at me and I agreed. The book I’m writing right now, they weren’t crazy about the title I had chosen either, so I brainstormed a bunch of new ones and they chose one from the list. I’m working out my own method for coming up with the ideal title, and it is a lot of fun!
Lark: You collect vintage cookware, like your sleuth Jaymie Leighton. What’s the most exciting find you ever made?
Victoria: Everyfind is exciting! I genuinely love the stuff, but if I had to pin it down, it would be a small green depression glass bowl I found in a thrift shop for $3.99. Amazing! It’s fairly rare and worth a lot more than that.
Lark: That’s fantastic – one of those Antiques Roadshow moments! Can you tell us what you’re working on now? What’s next for Jaymie, Merry, or any of your other heroines?
Victoria: I’m actually working on Book 4 of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, and Jaymie is having the time of her life helping restore the kitchen of the historic home Queensville is transforming into a living museum. Because of the fabulous find she made in Book 1 – A Deadly Grind – which was subsequently donated to the Queensville heritage society and then auctioned off, they were able to buy the Dumpe estate, soon to be renamed Queensville Historic Manor.
Her personal life is in a bit of a turmoil, though, as she tries to figure out exactly what she wants.
Lark: Finally, a few quick questions:
- Favorite color? I’ll admit it… pink.
- Favorite season? Autumn.
- Favorite dessert or sweet thing? Brownies. (Oh, me too! The fudgier, the better.)
- Dogs or cats? Cats, if I had to choose.
- City or country? Well, I live in the city, but I love going out to a friend’s home in the country. Bit of both.
- Print, e-reader, or audiobook? Print.
Victoria: Thank you so much, Lark! I’ve had a great time, and enjoyed answering the questions!
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 an 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 serves up a tasty blend of mystery, murder, and a touch of romance in her third Vintage Kitchen mystery. When mean-spirited Urban Dobrinskie turns up dead in the back yard of her family’s cottage, Jaymie can’t stop trying to figure out whodunit. With plenty of suspects, a smorgasbord of motives, and more than a few well-disguised clues, the mystery is complex enough to be challenging. I’m usually fairly good at solving cozies, but in this case, although I got several things right, I was still waffling between a few suspects until the denouement — and I had the real murderer’s motive half-wrong. That’s good plotting, and excellent execution.
Hamilton throws in several interesting subplots, including a septic drain field in various stages of repair, a feud between mothers, Jaymie’s take-it-slow relationship with her tech-millionaire boyfriend Daniel and her unwilling attraction to a sexy cop, and her angst over the vintage cooking column she’s trying to start. I had no trouble jumping into the series with book three, but it’s clearly a series; some of the subplots aren’t entirely resolved by the end, and there are several recurring characters. Hamilton doesn’t fall into the twin traps of cardboard-cutout characters or overly-eccentric ones; almost all her characters are nuanced and believable.
Clever, fun, and entertaining, Freezer I’ll Shoot held my attention from beginning to end. I’ll definitely be back for more!
Rating: 4 stars
Category: Cozy Mystery
Series: Vintage Kitchen #3
Release date: November 5, 2013
Book source: I received a digital review copy via NetGalley and Great Escapes Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.
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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. (biography source: author)
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Victoria Hamilton is giving away autographed copies of Freezer I’ll Shoot and Bran New Death, along with a mystery tote bag and a pen.
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