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).
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.