Today, I'm excited to have Victoria Hamilton aka Amanda Cooper joining me. Hi Victoria or should I call you Amanda for the purpose of this interview?
Call me Amanda, my author name for my new series!
Already, Amanda it is. Tempest in a Teapot is the first book in your Teapot Collector Series. Can you tell me about your protagonist, Sophie Taylor?
Sophie is one of those natural born go getters. Her family is wealthy; she was expected to either get married, or if she wanted to work, to take on a position in one of the family businesses. But Sophie had other ambitions, though they were frowned upon; she wanted to become a chef. She couldn’t rely on her family to pay her way for an education at a culinary institute, so she worked to put herself through culinary school.
Sophie’s character is based in part on a high school acquaintance. I knew a girl whose family was wealthy enough to send her to a Swiss boarding school. She learned German and French until she knew those languages better than the German teacher at our school, but she was modest and always seemed embarrassed by what made her different from the other kids, her family’s money and her superior education. That is Sophie, in a nutshell.
Gracious Grove is a charming town. Can you please describe it for me?
The locals call Gracious Grove ‘GiGi’ – pronounced like the movie character played by Leslie Caron! – and it’s a medium sized town situated near the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. It’s a pretty town, blanketed this time of year in flowers: tulips and irises, flowering trees like lilacs and cherry blossoms… all kinds of flowers! It has converted its town center to be a walker’s paradise, with cute old shops and cafes, much like Ithaca Commons in nearby Ithaca, New York.
But the real secret of Gracious Grove’s town personality is that it is one of the few remaining ‘dry’ towns in the US. There is no alcohol in GiGi, so the tearooms and cafes flourish! Sophie’s beloved Nana (aka Rose Freemont) owns one of the finest, Auntie Rose’s Victorian Tea House, and Rose’s arch nemesis and childhood frenemy, Thelma Mae Earnshaw, runs the tearoom next door, Belle Epoque.
What can readers expect from Sophie as far as her sleuthing skills go? Will there be a possible love interest?
Sleuthing… well, Sophie worked her way through culinary school waitressing. I think a good waitress has fine people skills and tends to notice things, perfect attributes for a sleuth! And love interest? Well, let’s just say that Sophie spent a lot of her summers in GiGi, and there she met her first teenage love, Jason Murphy, who is now a professor at a local college. Her mother made Sophie break up with him just before hauling her away to her last year of high school before college. He has always claimed that she broke his heart. When she reignites her old friendships, Jason just may be one of them!
I called you Victoria earlier. You also write under the name Donna Lea Simpson and now as Amanda Cooper. How do you keep up with all the different identities?
It’s not so difficult, really. As Donna, I am republishing the books I started my career writing, Regency romances, as well as hopefully writing some new stories. BTW, did you know… M. C. Beaton (author of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series) did the same as Marion Chesney, writing many popular Regency romances and series?
As Victoria Hamilton I write the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and the Merry Muffin Mysteries, and now as Amanda Cooper I write the Teapot Collector Mysteries.
Why create the new identity of Amanda, instead of continuing to write this series as Victoria?
That was purely out of necessity. Berkley brought the idea for the Teapot Collector Mysteries to me, so since it was my editor’s creation and I was working from her guidelines, I needed to use a new pseudonym. I chose Amanda Cooper, since it has family roots for me. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Cooper, and I always loved the name of a distant cousin or great aunt, Amanda Lucinda, so I chose Amanda!
Do you have a favorite scene you would like to talk about? And why is it one of your favorites?
I love the denouement scene, where All Is Revealed! Of course, I can’t say much about that, but it is classic murder mystery, old school, in the Agatha Christie tradition of gathering all the suspects and having the sleuth force the killer’s hand into revealing themselves. So much fun to write!
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. I haven't read Tempest in a Teapot, yet, but I'm sure I will enjoy it.
I really hope you do; I hope everyone enjoys Tempest in a Teapot. Thank you so much, Kim, for this Q&A. It was a lot of fun!
About Tempest in a Teapot & the Teapot Collector Mysteries by Amanda Cooper
Sophie Freemont Taylor, failed restaurateur, chef and teapot collector, is at loose ends in Manhattan until she decides on the spur of the moment to return ‘home’ to Gracious Grove, a town in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Though not her real home town, it is where she finds respite at her grandmother’s establishment, the same place where Sophie fell in love with teapots, Auntie Rose’s Victorian Tea House. Her grandmother, Rose Freemont, aka ‘Nana’, welcomes her with open arms and twenty nine year old Sophie settles in to find her groove cooking again, even if it is ‘only’ tearoom fare. At the same time she reestablishes friendships with her childhood buddies Dana and Cissy, and her first love, Jason Murphy.
Life in Gracious Grove is never boring, but is not usually as spirited as it becomes when there is a murder at the tearoom next door, the establishment of cranky octogenarian Thelma Mae Earnshaw. Thelma has nursed a six decade long grudge against Nana, who she claims stole her beau, Harold Freemont, also known as Sophie’s grandfather and Nana’s late husband. But despite Thelma’s irascibility, Sophie feels compelled to help figure out who killed a local socialite with a baked goodie at Thelma’s tearoom, Belle Époque. It’s unnerving that it occurred so close that Sophie heard the hubbub surrounding the murder by poison! Too soon the danger strikes close to home with an attack on her Nana, and Sophie races the clock to figure out what is going wrong in the pretty little town of Gracious Grove.
The Teapot Collector Mysteries continue in book 2 with Nana’s teapot collector group, the Silver Spouts, attending a collector conference in a nearby town. When someone is bashed over the head with Nana’s prized antique teapot and dies, Sophie rushes to the rescue once again, intent on saving her beloved grandmother from suspicion.
Click here to read my review of Tempest in a Teapot
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Amanda Cooper, who is really Victoria Hamilton, nationally bestselling author of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, aka Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of romance and historical mystery novels!
Amanda Cooper starting reading mystery novels at the age of 12 and devoured Agatha Christie mysteries, as well as those of Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. She still adores mysteries, especially the cozy mysteries of Janet Bolin, Krista Davis, Miranda James and others.
She loves to cook, and collects teapots and teacups, as well as vintage kitchen utensils and bowls. She also enjoys crafts, especially cross-stitching and crocheting, and spends summer days in the garden, drinking tea or wine.
For more on Tempest in a Teapot and the Teapot Collector Mysteries, visit the series’ Facebook page:
Learn more about Amanda Cooper, her alter ego Victoria Hamilton, and all her mystery series at: www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com