In the book, Dr. Sophie Knowles teaches math at Henley College in Massachusetts, but when a colleague turns up dead, it's up to her to find the killer before someone else gets subtracted.
While Camille is a scientist and quite familiar with the academic world, she's also a miniaturist and author of the fun Miniature Mystery Series. And collectors, you'll be glad to know she hasn't left her hobby behind yet. Far from it as you'll see. (Keep reading, and be sure to check out the contest at the end!)
Tools for Life
By Camille Minichino/Ada Madison
The best thing about writing novels is also the best thing about doing miniatures: you get to manipulate the world any way you please. In fact, dollhouses are a kind of fiction, and fiction writing is definitely a craft.
Here are a couple of handy dollhouse realities: it's a fictitious roof, so if there's a little flaw in your gluing job when you laid down the tiles, the roof still won't leak; no one will know whether the sheet corners on the bed are perfect (or even there at all!) under the comforter in the master bedroom.
As you craft the novel, you have the same power to put things in order, or not. You can construct a satisfying Whodunit with justice for all at the end, or weave twisty plots toward a cliffhanger ending. As a miniaturist, you can construct a lovely half-inch-scale cottage with no bad plumbing or any other defect, but if you'd rather, you can mess things up by turning a miniature bedroom into a crime scene.
Pictured: One of Camille's mini crime scenes.
You can defy age: with only a little maintenance, your dollhouse will never get old or lose its resale value; and as long as you keep writing, your heroine can stay young, even through a dozen books, released a year apart. In my Miniature Mysteries (written as Margaret Grace), my protagonist's granddaughter, 11 years old, will never become a testy teen. How handy is that?
One of my favorite miniature projects was creating a museum. I love real-life museums and have been known to spend entire days in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. But my miniature museum has one feature that's impossible in real life: it has only paintings I like.
I've hung several paintings by Edward Hopper and Van Gogh (of course, Chris!) but none by contemporary artists whose work looks a little like a day care project to my untrained eye. There are sculptures by Rodin, but no ancient stone figures (apologies to the Egyptologists out there).
[Full disclosure: Unlike my blog hostess and her talented friends, I don't do miniature paintings; I take the low road and download them!] (Host Note: No judging here, I do that a lot, too! ha!)
My miniature museum has a bistro and a gift shop, of course, as well as benches everywhere for resting and contemplation. I used the power of crafting to make a museum that's perfect for me, just as I use the power of a novel to make characters and stories that satisfy me.
When I donate a dollhouse to a charity—a great move, since it also means I get to buy another one!—I supply some furniture, but not all. I include instead supplies for making pieces, sometimes with instructions, sometimes not. I want the new owner to have that same powerful feeling of being in charge of her environment.
Similarly, when I teach writing, I give my students guidelines, prompts, questions to help them shape their own stories.
In my new series, my protagonist, Professor Sophie Knowles, has a beading hobby. In fact, she manages to use beads as a defensive weapon! Writing and crafting—both powerful tools for life.
** Camille Minichino is the author of three mystery series. Her akas are Margaret Grace (The Miniature Mysteries) and Ada Madison (The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries). Read the first chapter of THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER, launched on July 5, at her website.
** Camille, thanks again for stopping by and I wish you great success with your new series!** CONTEST: Comment and share a favorite scene from one of Camille's books, or a general observation for a chance to win a copy of THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER. Include an email so we can contact you.