Interview: Camille Minichino

Please welcome Camille Minichino, author of the Periodic Table Mysteries, the Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace), and the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (as Ada Madison).

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I love a day that’s cold enough to enjoy soup, a day when friends visit and interrupt my writing (I always do better when I’m squeezed for time.)

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
I have an extensive collection of pins—costume jewelry with science or math icons. I have several elements of the periodic table, for example, plus a small jeweled crossword puzzle pin, a nuclear reactor cooling tower (really), and assorted tiny books.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Olga Mafera, my Italian teacher, who forced us to read Dante in Italian in high school; Alma Wiley, who included me in an after school group (of boys) for advanced geometry; Father Robert O’Connell,a Jesuit, who led me gently out of the shell of pre-Vatican philosophy.

Do you listen to music when you write?
No, but sometimes I have the television on, next to my computer.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
A See’s dark peanut butter cup, uh, because of the protein.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I’ve always wanted to write academic mysteries and have a line-up of potential villains and victims from my long career in academe.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I find myself writing often about “normal” families, since mine was so dysfunctional.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Professor Sophie Knowles, my latest protagonist, loves teaching above all. She is the kind of teacher I want to be, available to students at all levels, ready to impart knowledge and to receive it, attentive to different styles of learning. Sophie’s father was a mathematician and her mother loved her (as I said, a normal family!). Unlike me, Sophie is curious enough to put herself in harm’s way to solve murders.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Mathematician Ada Lovelace (Lord Byron’s daughter); Plato; Meryl Streep

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Isaac Asimov (on everyone’s list!), Jan Burke, Frances Fyfield, Natsuo Kirino, Peter Robinson, John Verdon

What’s next for you?
A venture back into the convent for a Nun’s Story of my own. Tentative title: “Intercourse with Strangers”


Camille Minichino, a retired physicist turned writer, has published 18 mysteries: the Periodic Table Mysteries, the Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace), and the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (as Ada Madison). Soon, every aspect of her life will be a mystery series. Camille has also published articles for popular magazines and teaches science and writing workshops. She works at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and teaches at Golden Gate U. in San Francisco.

CONTACT: web:; blog:; FB:


8 thoughts on “Interview: Camille Minichino”

  1. Hi Camille, Thanks for dropping by. We have family near the Lawrence Livermoor Lab. As a current academic, I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to.


  2. I’m an English professor. Teach creative writing and British lit. Have two novels out, and a third under a pen name. I love the idea of writing a series based on the elemental table.


  3. Great and entertaining interview, Camille! Thanks so much for visiting. I’m a big fan of your mysteries.

    When did you start collecting pins (and do you have any pictures of them online)?


  4. Camille I loved reading this interview which took place a year and a half before I met you.
    I have missed hearing you talk about the writing process. This summer has been arduous, especially without your writing workshop.
    You are a great role model and teacher.


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