July 11, 2011

Welcome to Guest Mystery Author Ada Madison aka Camille Minichino

Today I again welcome prolific, charming and talented mystery author Camille Minichino, who's come out with a new book, THE SQUARE ROOT OF MURDER, the first in her new Prof. Sophie Knowles mystery series written under the name Ada Madison.

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.


  1. The mortuary apartment adds a piquant touch in the periodic table series, which I've enjoyed. Looking forward to this and the forthcoming series.

  2. Thanks for introducing me to Camille. I'll put her books on my list.

  3. A very interesting post and hobby.
    I do agree that mystery writing is all about creating a world and ordering it as the writer wishes it to be. Very satisfying!

  4. Thanks for hosting me, Christine!

    The mortuary is one of my favorite miniatures, Liz, and one of only two that I keep for myself, the other being the museum.

  5. I think Camille's mortuary sounds fascinating too - and she is such a nice lady too!
    Jacqueline, see I knew there was a reason miniatures were so fun - just like writing!
    Kathleen, glad you stopped by. Always great when someone discovers a new to them author!
    Camille, come back anytime!

  6. My next book, next spring, will be in the miniature mystery series -- "Mix-up in Miniature," featuring a dollhouse with a secret room! It was a lot of fun to write.

  7. OOh dollhouses and a secret room, can't wait to read that one!

  8. I was inspired by a dollhouse I saw at the Museum of Miniature Houses in Carmel, Indiana. Thanks Suzanne(s)!

  9. I don't think I have a favorite scene, but I love the fact that Gerry and her granddaughter are working on a replica of her first apt. that her husband built before he died...and that they eat pizza and frequent the Ice Cream Parlor and Bagel Shop. Gerry is a woman after my own heart and I believe Camille must be too.

  10. I love all of Camille Minichino and Margaret Grace books and look forward to reading books under Ada Madson (and no matter which name she writes under, she is a lovely person) I don't have a favourite scene, and always feel as if I'm there in person. Keep 'em coming!
    Jonesy, Victoria, BC


Comment Here.