But as a writer she wears many hats: she has published the Periodic Table Mysteries in her own name. As Margaret Grace she writes the Miniature Mysteries. As Ada Adison she writes the Professor Sophie Knowles books AND as Jean Flowers she writes the Postmistress Mysteries. The new one, Cancelled by Murder, is out this month, as is her latest Miniature mystery: Matrimony in Miniature.
I've always had a fascination for doll houses and I'm delighted to welcome Camille today for her thoughts on miniatures and life.
CAMILLE MINICHINO: Making miniatures (models of life) and writing fiction (also models of life) have a lot in common.
On my crafts table is a room box, about a foot on each side, newly painted and wallpapered, waiting to be furnished. On my computer is my latest novel, newly formatted and word-crafted, waiting to be furnished.
Adding a descriptive passage to emphasize a point in a scene is like dropping that tiny string of pearls onto m'lady's dresser in the Victorian mansion dollhouse. Cutting a paragraph from a chapter in a novel translates into removing a too-large scatter rug that overpowers the rest of the kitchen furnishings in a modern dollhouse.
I change a verb for a more powerful statement; I change the draperies in the dollhouse dining room for the same reason.
For a miniature scene or room box, after I choose the colors and assemble the pieces, I leave it on my crafts table for a while, living with it, looking at it from different angles over the course of a week or so, to be sure all the elements fit together nicely. Only when a particular design has stood the test of time, do I glue all the parts in place.
I do the same for my novels, leaving each chapter or day's work to sit for a while. When I come back later, I see what does or does not fit. I notice phrases or sentences or plot elements that don't work well together, and make the changes. Only then do I consider it "finished" and metaphorically glue it in place.
I have the most fun when I can combine my two favorite crafts, making miniature scenes and writing mystery novels. At writing conferences and meetings, I donate miniature scenes for charity auctions, often including miniature replicas of books that are featured on the panels. Here's one, put together for a recent conference, where the furniture is covered with pages of books and other publications.
In each case—making a miniature scene or writing a novel—I'm creating a model of reality, a fictional world where things can be easier and often make more sense than in the life-size world.
I enjoy combining my miniatures hobby with the themes of my mystery series, not only the Miniature Mysteries.
• the post office where Cassie Miller reigns in the Postmistress Mysteries;
• and, of course, one of the many dollhouses Gerry Porter of the Miniature Mysteries has built, this one a crime scene as well. Someone has wrecked the house!
Another interesting aspect of making miniatures and writing fiction: Both endeavors involve cheating!
When I put a roof on a dollhouse, I don't have to worry about the materials really being weatherproof. Dollhouse admirers assume all will be well if it rains. When I move my characters about in a novel, I'm not concerned about filling their cars with gas or giving them a rest stop on a long journey, unless it's crucial to the plot. Readers assume the mundane things are being taken care of.
In the world of dollhouses and most fiction, there's no laundry to do, and a houseful of carpeting can be changed in a matter of minutes. In my mystery novels, the good guys always win and justice is always served.
What could be more satisfying?
RHYS: I love those little scenes you make for conventions, Camille. Does anyone else like making miniatures? I don't think I'd have the patience or precision. I tend to be like Lady Georgie and would drop glue on something.
So please stop by to welcome Camille, Margaret, Ada or Jean... she will give away a signed copy to one of today's commenters.