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Thursday, July 7, 2011


Today we welcome back mystery author Camille Minichino, the author of three mystery series. Her akas are Margaret Grace (The Miniature Mysteries) and Ada Madison (The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries). Check out her website to read the first chapter of The Square Root of Murder, her newest mystery.  

Camille is celebrating the release of The Square Root of Murder with a giveaway for her fans. Post a comment to enter the drawing to win a miniature scene featuring three books of your choice similar to the miniature-in-progress in the photo below. -- AP

Too Cute to Live
Look what I found in a local miniatures store. A lovely Vermont country house in half-inch-scale. (That's an Oreo by the door for reference.)

It was so cute—freshly painted, beautifully finished wood floors, a charming porch—I almost didn't buy it. Too pretty. What could I do with it except place equally adorable tiny furniture in the rooms?

"How come it's on sale?" I asked the clerk.

"Small defect," she admitted, pointing to a window on the first floor. Sure enough, one pane in a multi-pane window, made of plastic, was split open.

My spirits lifted. "Great," I said. "That's where they broke in."

The clerk gave me a sideways look, but I was happy. I had my crime scene.

In my mind I was already placing small pieces of glass (plastic) on the floor under the window, tipping over the darling living room chairs, smashing the dainty lamp, breaking one leg of the miniature coffee table.

It's not just miniatures. There's something about crafts and murder that have a natural connection. Whether it's knitting needles or utility knives, scissors or toxic paints and resins, our crafts tables are a storehouse of offensive and defensive weapons.

Taking my cue from the Famous Deadly Glue Gun, I even managed to use beads as a weapon in "The Square Root of Murder," the first in my new academic mysteries, featuring college math teacher and beader, Professor Sophie Knowles.

Although most miniaturists I know have elegantly furnished Victorian or Tudor dollhouses or Cape Cod cottages, they sometimes stray from The Cute with risqué scenes. In fact, every miniature show I've been to has a few brothels, strategically mounted higher than kids' eye level. But other than the fascinating CSI thread a few years ago, there aren't enough miniature crime scenes to enjoy.

My heroine is Frances Glessner Lee, the Chicago heiress who built meticulous miniature crime scenes (even knitting tiny stockings for the background) and used them to teach criminal investigation procedure to cops. It's worth a look at her "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death."

My most elaborate dollhouse is a mortuary, fashioned after the building where my Periodic Table Series protagonist lives. Gloria tiptoes past mourners on her way to her kitchen and trips over a trocar when she goes down to do her laundry next to the embalming room in the basement. It wasn't easy to fashion an embalming table out of foil, but I had to DIY, since no miniatures stores seemed to have any in stock.

When I buy a set of dollhouse dining room silver, you can bet that I'll pick out the tiny knives and sprinkle them with blood—uh, paint—in case there's a mini-murder by a mini-serial killer eluded by mini-cops.

Comment to enter the drawing to win
a miniature similar to this one. 
A Tip
Just to prove I'm not always turning cute into deadly, here's a bloodless tip to accent your dollhouse or room box kitchen or living room: lay bell pepper seeds, enough to cover a nickel, on a paper towel and let them dry. Then place the seeds in an old contact lens/bowl, or a similar "found object," and you have chips ready for munching (by a very small person).

It's a project fit for family viewing. No crime scene tape needed.

Thanks for joining us again today, Camille. I’m jealous of the lucky reader who will win one of your miniature scenes. Readers, don’t forget to comment in order to have your name entered in the drawing. -- AP


Anonymous said...

I would LOVE to win a miniature scene! (and I'd love to go to a really good minatures show, too!) I have started a room box and have two kits waiting to be assembled (if I can figure out a way to keep the cats out of them). I have Camille's miniature series and am looking forward to The Square Root of Murder!

Liz V. said...

Enjoyed Periodic Table Series and the new series sounds fascinating. Good luck w/ The Square Root of Murder.

Camille Minichino said...

Wouldn't you know, Anastasia has been so welcoming, I simply have to make a scene for her, too!

If badgermirlacca will tell me where she lives, I might be able to recommend a show. I'm lucky enough to have one not far away in San Jose.

It's fun to be here today and meet Anastasia's friends. I'm in New York at ThrillerFest, however and at the mercy of someone else's computer, so I may not be back till later in the day. Talk to you then!

Anonymous said...

When I first started working about 40 years ago, there was a miniature store named The Pink Door around the corner from my office building. The other secretary and I liked to go in on our lunch hour and look at all the room set ups. The store is long gone now and I don't even know where you would find miniatures anymore. I used to have plaster molds that made flat sided antique miniatures for making scenes in picture frames. I don't think the little girls today are too interested in dolls or doll houses.

Kathy Nycz

Patricia said...

Loved your post about you, your series, and miniature houses. I'm especially intrigued by a series about a college professor and the academic venue. I'll be sure to read that one.
Thank you.

TheWaldos said...

I'm thrilled to have learned about this series. I'm a series-a-holic and this sounds right up my alley.

Anywhere we can see pics of the mortuary doll house? That is macabre genius!

Also wondering, do you have very petite hands? Seems like that would come in handy (pun intended) for working with delicately tiny items like these.

Thanks for sharing this with us, AP!


Gina Robinson said...

Your miniatures are so cute! What a great hobby. And what a great twist to it. Both of your mystery series sounds like fun. I'm the odd duck woman who loves math. I'll have to check them out :-)

BBibel said...

Wow! A miniature mystery library would be great. Square Root of Murder is fun. You really get the academic life with high-stakes disagreements over trivial matters.

Carol-Lynn Rossel said...

Oh! Count me in. I used to make porcelain 1" = 1ft scale portrait dolls out of porcelain. For maybe a decade I lived in a miniature world and I still have a few dollhouses around the house here. So I've not completely gotten small things out of my system. I even had my master's thesis published (edited version) by a genuine miniature book publisher. That was a lifetime ago, but it lives in one of my dollhouses. I do love "miniature" books.

Camille Minichino said...

What a fun and talented group of readers ... I'm frustrated by my 2inch screen! Oh, it's a miniscreen! Mortuary pix are on my website.

Meredith Allen Conner said...

I can't wait to read your new book. I love miniatures and have since my Dad and I built my first dollhouse when I was about 8. My grandparents made bedroom and living room furniture sets every Christmas for it. A couple years ago my husband and I built a fairy house for our daughters. The outside is composed of real bark and the furniture is made of shells and items from the woods. I love the idea of having a murder scene done in miniature!

Deb Thomas said...

My retired Chemistry professor dad and I have both enjoyed your Periodic Table mysteries. I've always been fascinated by miniatures, and will be looking for your miniature series as well. Good luck with the new series!

Rebecca said...

Ordinarily miniatures don't jingle my mental bells, but as soon as I read your reaction, "Great, that's where they broke in," I was in. Arranging the miniatures must be something like reading one of Agatha Christie's maps (or drawing my own)--an objective correlative for the imagination. Thanks for giving me a new appreciation of the little, the tiny, the fiendishly small.