Writing Life: Invention or Memory?

Mar 3, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Victoria Hamilton

Every mystery series I write (I have four on the go: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, Lady Anne Addison Historical Mysteries, A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder, and the Merry Muffin Mysteries) is completely different, deliberately so. It allows me to reference my different interests, from vintage recipes and kitchen utensils, to English history, to a budding interest in opera and classical music. From the beginning I knew that the Merry Muffin Mysteries would feature classical music and opera, though not, I hope, in an overwhelming sense. Even if you’re not a fan of either, you’ll enjoy the Merry Muffin series.

One of the main characters, Pish Lincoln, has a long history of supporting the arts, and in particular a symphony orchestra and an opera company. When trying to come up with a name for these two entities I knew it must have a New York City connection, so I pulled up a map and started searching. I looked at different neighborhoods and streets to name the two and finally settled on Lexington Avenue, a Manhattan east side street. So… the Lexington Symphony Orchestra and the Lexington Opera Company were born. For years now, in the Merry Muffin Mysteries, Pish and Merry have raised funds for and socialized with the luminaries of those two companies.

Fast forward to this exceedingly strange year, 2021: I have been doing a lot of ‘comfort’ reading (Sue Grafton novels that I’ve read a half dozen times before) and watching 1970s TV shows like Match Game ’76/’78 and, more recently, old reruns of The Odd Couple, the TV show based on the Neil Simon play and movie. The TV version starred Jack Klugman as Oscar and Tony Randall as Felix. Imagine my surprise the other day, while watching an episode, to discover that Felix is president of…The Lexington Avenue Opera Club.

What are the chances? In all of New York City, why did I happen upon Lexington Avenue as the inspiration for my opera company? So I am left to wonder…is it invention, or is it recollection? Is it mere coincidence, or is it a deeply buried memory that was exhumed when I dug deep enough? I frankly do not know and never will. I can’t say I watched the sitcom when it was on — I was too young — but maybe I’ve seen a rerun in the years since?

I am willing to bet that every writer has a similar story. I mean, I have several ‘oops’ moments or ‘almost oops’ moments…I almost named a character the exact same name as another author; that would have been gravely embarrassing! Fortunately, I caught it in time. I suppose if you write enough books and create enough characters you are bound to hit on some of these echoes of reality. I’m very curious…have you, as a reader, ever noticed something in a book that echoed real life (a name, a place, a song) and wondered if it was intentional, or just a slip of the mind…or memory?

About Double or Muffin:

In the new Merry Muffin Mystery, baker Merry Wynter must solve a disturbing crime among opera singers before the culprit decides it’s curtains for her . . .

When a reality TV show for aspiring opera singers descends on Wynter Castle, Merry’s got her hands full catering to the endless demands of the distinguished judges and ambitious contestants. Then mysterious rumors about the cast and crew begin to surface, suggesting that some of their performances may be filled with false notes. When a dogged reporter with an eye for scandal who’s been covering the competition is attacked and left for dead, Merry’s determined to discover who orchestrated the heinous deed.

Her long list of suspects is filled with eccentric personalities, including a promiscuous tenor known for making unwanted overtures, a pampered young prodigy and her meddlesome mother, and a quiet up-and-comer whose shadowy uncle may have ties to the underworld. As the musical contest and Merry’s investigation near their finale, she’ll have to act fast to keep a conniving contestant from plotting out her final act . . .

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Victoria Hamilton is the bestselling author of several mystery series including the national bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries. She does, indeed, collect vintage kitchenware and bake muffins. She drinks tea and coffee on writing days, and wine other times. It doesn’t do to confuse days. She crochets (a little), paints (a little), and reads (a lot). A solitary being, she can be coaxed out of her writing cave for brownies and cat videos.
She started her writing life as Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of Regency Romances, paranormal historicals, and historical mysteries, and still has a soft spot for the Regency period.
Website: http://www.VictoriaHamiltonMysteries.com Sign up for her newsletter for all the latest!
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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