MLC: What did you do for a living before writing mysteries?
AUTHOR: I have a PhD in physics and worked for many years in teaching and physics research.
MLC: What's your average day like?
AUTHOR: A fire drill, with deadlines, emails, "gigs," meetings, reading, and writing.
MLC: Do you have pets?
AUTHOR: Unlike many "cozy" authors, I am not a pet person. No plants either. I don't have time for anything less than human that needs care and maintenance!
MLC: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
AUTHOR: Both, but better at 2 in the a.m.. Sleep is overrated.
MLC: What groups are you a member of that you feel are important for you as a writer?
AUTHOR: I've been president and board member for Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the California Writers Club. All have given me a great deal of support and inspiration.
MLC: When did you start writing?
AUTHOR: When I was in grade school I wrote a regular family newsletter, complete with drawings. I doubt anyone read it, since most of my relatives didn't read English. I have no idea how I distributed it, since it was well before the days of copy machines. I probably just passed it around at Sunday dinner!
MLC: Have you taught writing classes?
AUTHOR: I do teach writing classes for adults, through community colleges, outreach programs, bookstores, and libraries. It's very gratifying to see progress in students who use the classes as a workshop to take their manuscripts to the next levels.
MLC: Have you taken writing classes?
AUTHOR: Lots. I've had many excellent teachers along the way.
MLC: What are your views on critique groups?
AUTHOR: I'd hate to have to manage without one. Right now I'm in a "dream group" with Jonnie Jacobs, Rita Lakin, and Peggy Lucke.
MLC: What is your favorite subgenre of mysteries?
AUTHOR: Though I write cozy, I read dark. My latest favorite is "Out" by Natsuo Kirino. Brutal, but the insights into character and motivations make it worth the journey.
MLC: What has been your biggest challenge in being published?
AUTHOR: Keeping up with all the promotional opportunities while still leaving quality time for writing.
MLC: Why did you decide to write the mysteries you're writing?
AUTHOR: For both series, I chose a theme close to my heart. First, my love of science and desire to present an appealing female scientist led to the Periodic Table Mysteries. Second, my love of miniatures and dollhouses led to the Miniature Mysteries series.
MLC: How did you choose the setting for your mysteries?
AUTHOR: For the first series, I chose my childhood hometown—Revere Massachusetts. For the second, I thought it would be easier to make up a city instead of having to worry about one-way streets!
MLC: What was the inspiration for your mysteries?
AUTHOR: See above!
MLC: What writers have inspired you?
AUTHOR: I love "mainstream" fiction. I read Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Russo, Margaret Atwood, Joanne Harris … as well as mystery writers like Thomas H. Cook and Martin Cruz Smith. All have inspired me to work at the craft.
MLC: How do you come up with your plot ideas for your mysteries?
AUTHOR: I play the usual "what if" game with interesting news items. I also work my head around interesting possibilities that connect to the elements, or to the world of miniatures.
MLC: How do you research for your mysteries? How long does it take?
AUTHOR: These days the Internet is my principal research tool. I spend a couple of hours a day on it. It's hard to break away from it to go back to writing sometimes!
MLC: Is the setting of your mysteries imaginary or real? Why?
AUTHOR: Lincoln Point, California, the setting for the Miniature Mystery series is fictional. I named it after my real grammar school, Abraham Lincoln School. I never thought it would lead me to research on Lincoln and his times, all of which I've found fascinating.
MLC: Do you live where you set your mysteries?
AUTHOR: I lived in Revere for the first 21 years of my life … it was the first public beach in the country and a wonderful background for my first novels.
MLC: Tell us about your latest mystery.
AUTHOR: "Murder in Miniature" introduces Geraldine Porter and her 10-year-old granddaughter, Maddie. As chairwoman of the local dollhouses and miniatures fair, Gerry is busy with the details of her craft. But when her friend Linda goes missing, suddenly Gerry and Maddie's problems are anything but tiny.
E-mail address: Camille@minichino.com