June 16, 2008

MURDER IN MINIATURE: Meet author Margaret Grace

Today I’m talking with Margaret Grace, author of MURDER IN MINIATURE, the first book in the new Miniature Mysteries series, released in Feb. 2008. MAYHEM IN MINIATURE will be published in August '08.

For fun, Margaret and I are “trading blogs” today. We’ve both answered the same questions, talk about our books, and share our miniatures.

Read the interview I did with her here and then read her interview with me at the Killer Hobbies blog. Make a comment or ask a question at both blogs and your name will be entered to win free books and miniature scenes from both of us! (My miniature party table scene below).

BONUS: Sign up for my free periodic newsletter (link at right) and get your name entered to win a mini copy of SEARCHING FOR A STARRY NIGHT, A Miniature Art Mystery!!

Publications: Margaret is author of eight books in The Periodic Table Mysteries, written under her birth name, Camille Minichino.

Favorite Quote:

I like to use metaphors that fit the setting and theme of my books. In "Murder in Miniature" I say of one of Gerry's ill-tempered friends:

Misfortune followed Linda like a string of glue from a low-end glue gun.

(This has the double advantage of (slight) humor, and also an "inside joke" for miniaturists.)

(Pictured: A crime scene: Margaret did it in the bedroom with a cane. this went to silent auction at Forensics U in St. Louis last year. The carpet is sandpaper. Did you know it comes in many colors now? I use green for lawns, blue for carpeting ...)

Tell me about you and your collection:

My bio looks like a copy and paste from several different people. I'm very undisciplined and move from one career/interest to another. NO, wait. I don't move; I keep them all, accumulating new ones and not getting rid of the old. I've been a research physicist, a human factors engineer, a teacher, a miniaturist, a writer ... I started a small business a few years ago -- I produced bibs and Frisbees with pictures of Einstein, Curie and Marconi (as alternative to puppies and kitties.)

Once when I was between jobs, I applied to be a temp. I flunked the typing test and ended up working in a factory, making little plastic washers. Fortunately, that didn't last too long. Now, after writing 11 novels plus a few million other words, I think I could pass that typing test.

Is your main character someone you'd want to invite over to "play with" and why?

I'd love to have a crafts day with Gerry. She has more tools!

What does your character have that you wish was yours - and will you make it in real life?

I would love to have Gerry's Bronx apartment and might make one! The way to distinguish it would be to paste postcards with city views in the windows so it looks like it's really in the Bronx. I love the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, too ... Oh oh, I'm singing.

What's your next mini project or what's in progress?

I'm doing a bathtub reading scene ... trying to figure the best way to do bubbles. I'm also trying to decide whether to have a body in it. Maybe just an arm. Minis and crime just seem to go together, don't they?

What’s your dream miniature project you hope to make one day?

Marie Curie's laboratory, where she stirred a giant pot with molten pitchblende. It was in an open shed, so it fits the "dollhouse" style perfectly. Right?

How’d you begin writing books? What’s your degree and education?

Writing novels came up to number 1 on my to-do list, so I got to it. I have a PhD in physics, plus assorted classes in philosophy, theology, and literature.

What inspired your mystery novel – and why use miniatures?

I want my whole life to appear in one form of writing or another. Like Isaac Asimov, who never had an unpublished thought..

(Pictured: The miniature museum)

Did you have a dollhouse (or other minis) in childhood?

It was my main "toy" as a kid. My cousin, a few years older, would play with me. We'd decorate and cut out flowers from old greeting cards and put them on the wall. It was a magic time. She's still my favorite cousin!

If a cyclone/fire/tsunami, etc were coming, what one miniature would you take with you when you evacuated and why?
What’s special about it?

One of the most fun projects I did was creating the mortuary. The casket is an empty box of staples. I painted it, then wrapped fabric around another covered box and used it as the stand. For the rest, I had to improvise and use things in different ways. I bought two dining room sets, for example, and used only the chairs, in rows, for the visiting parlor. The wallpaper is dark scrapbooking paper.

For the apartment upstairs (as in the Periodic Table mysteries,) I used a tiny glide rocker that matches one in my own living room.

How did you research the book? Did you do anything different?

In "Murder in Miniature" I created a fictional town, Lincoln Point, CA. I've been doing Lincoln research (the town is obsessed with Abe and Mary Todd) and having a great time. I read all the Lincoln-Douglas debates to set the scene in the third one in the series, which I just finished.

What’s your craft background?

In keeping with my scattered nature, I try everything. One year I took classes in cartooning so I could draw our Christmas card with caricatures of me and my husband. Another year I did beading and put a tiny beaded necklace on photos of all my friends and sent them to them for birthdays or other occasions. For Christmas ‘07 I knitted tiny scarves and put them around a drawing of Frosty the Snowman. I made 100 of them, then gave up as the deadline approached, and did the other 200 with strands of yarn, not knitted!

Your next book is:

"Mayhem in Miniature" is due August 2008. The main setting is an upscale retirement home in Lincoln Point where Gerry teaches crafts.

Describe your craft room - where do you work on minis? C’mon show us!

What’s your worst crafting/miniatures moment?

Who hasn't super-glued their fingers together?? Or spilled paint on a pair of good pants? Worst project result: I tried to make a tiny (3" sq) quilt by cutting tiny squares of fabric and gluing onto a piece of fabric backing. Bad idea! The tiny squares are raggedy and threads show everywhere. Not even a pot of glue could help. I now use it as coaster in my office.

Margaret, thanks for being such a good sport and sharing your books – and your minis – with us!

Now, it's your turn, readers! Anything you’re dying to know about her miniatures or books? Now’s your chance to ask (and maybe win a book or prize!) so ask a question or post a comment!! Don't forget to see my story at her blog, too!


  1. I love the idea of the Marie Curie scene! I went to a weekend of minis some years ago when we did a shed, so the idea of Marie in her shed fired my imagination. Not that I'm going to do it, of course. I'm a champion of UFOs and even USOs (unstarted objects).
    Thanks for the hint about sandpaper carpets.

  2. I love the mystery in minatures idea!! It's fun to look at her minis and see the way things are knocked over, and the chalk outline on the floor~ Hahahaha!! It's also nice to know that I'm not the only one who can't make up my mind about what I'm going to be 'when I grow up'!!! LOL
    OK....now on to read the other one.

  3. I'll be using that USO acronym often, thanks parlance!

    And let's not grow up if it means no more fun.


  4. What wonderfull writing, and the scenes you make are awesome.
    Can't wait for the next one !

  5. Is there a specific reason why miniatures instead of rubber stamping?

  6. Uh-oh, another crafter snuck in... ha!
    Hi Amber... well, rubber stamping is good, but maybe I should ask instead, what you've never tried miniatures? :>) Kidding!

  7. Actually I love stamping, too, amber. I make cards and always have a stamp for the back of an envelope. I hav some wonderful famous people stamps, as well chemical glassware, and so on.

    I never got into painting stamped images, however -- too much like my old coloring books, which I did not like!

  8. This sounds like such a fun hobby and your book sounds really good!

  9. Miniatures mysteries will be welcome to cozy lovers. The actual miniatures shown are amazing.


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