Interview – ML Hamilton, author of the Peyton Brooks’ Mysteries
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Ml Hamilton, author of the World of Samar novels and the Peyton Brooks’ mysteries. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Michelle.
ML Hamilton: Thank you. I’m delighted to be a part of this exciting venture you have here.
SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
MLH: Absolutely. I am a high school English teacher by day and a mystery writer by night. I’ve been a teacher for the last twenty years. I’ve been a writer my entire life, but I’ve only been a published author for the last 4 years. I’m also a mother to three sons, two Golden Retrievers, and two cats.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
MLH: A quiet room with my Golden Retrievers near me – that’s my perfect writing condition. On my days off from school, I usually write in the morning. When I’m working the day job, I try to write each night before I go to sleep.
SPS: Where did the motivation come from to finally take the step to publish your writing?
MLH: Such a good question. It is so hard for writers to pull the trigger and put their work out there for criticism, but on New Year’s Day in 2010, I made my first resolution and decided to get serious about my writing. I found a publisher in England, who wanted my fantasy Emerald. After learning so much from them, I decided to go on my own and self-publish my murder mystery series.
SPS: What do you think leads you to write in the genres that you do?
MLH: I’ve always loved fantasy, so that was a natural for me. I liked not having the restrictions of an earth-based world and honestly, I was lazy. I didn’t want to do research. Then we had a strange death in our family that made me interested in murder mysteries. Suddenly, I enjoyed doing the research and I was captivated by writing modern dialogue. Now I seem to see every book as a sort of mystery waiting to unravel for me.
SPS: We’d like to start with taking a look at your Peyton Brooks’ mystery novels. Can you tell us what someone could expect if they picked up a copy of Murder on Potrero Hill, today?
MLH: Murder on Potrero Hill has a character driven plot that explores the mystery of love in all its forms. I think it’s a little different than other murder mysteries in the sense that the suspect is actually a main character himself. The first book is really about Jake Ryder and his increasingly complicated relationship with Peyton, the cop who’s trying to bring him in.
SPS: What sort of characteristics does Peyton possess?
MLH: Peyton is one of my favorite characters. She’s a tough no-nonsense cop (or she believes she is), but she has the unique ability to see a perp as human. She gets attached to people and has a need to “save” them, even when it’s a risk to herself. She builds this motley crew of friends who would never associate with each other, except they are drawn together by this 5’4” dynamo whose personality is as big as her hair.
SPS: Can we expect Peyton to solve things by the book, or does she tend to break the rules to get results?
MLH: Peyton definitely does not play by the rules, although she tries. Her partner Marco is the stabilizing force in their relationship, and he tries to keep them within the system, but more than anything, he’s concerned with protecting Peyton’s back, so when she goes out of bounds, he gets dragged in with her.
SPS: Where did your inspiration for the books come from?
MLH: A distant cousin of mine died mysteriously. As people do, speculation ran rampant in my family, although nothing was ever reviewed by the police. Still, it gave me the inspiration for the first murder mystery. Besides that, I wanted to write about my hometown, San Francisco. I wanted a chance to go back and explore it again.
SPS: How much enjoyment do you get on weaving together the mystery elements of the book? Do you like an ending no one saw coming?
MLH: I love weaving together the mystery and I love it when people write to me and tell me what they figured out and when. Endings are so important to me, and I’m addicted to cliff hangers. I think they are perfect, leaving a reader wanting more. I want people to figure it out, but I really like it when they say, “You had me up to the end.”
SPS: What sort of response have you received from your readers on the Peyton Brooks’ novels thus far?
MLH: Very positive responses. I get a lot of requests for the next one, which makes me a little worried as I’ve just finished the seventh and final book in this series.
SPS: Moving on to your fantasy series; tell us about Emerald, the first book in the World of Samar novels.
MLH: Emerald is my first novel. It’s an epic fantasy about a young prince who feels certain his future will be one thing, only to discover that he’s been living a lie. His entire world is destroyed just when he realizes that the boring life he thought he didn’t want isn’t really that bad.
SPS: What sort of races/creatures could a reader expect to find on Samar?
MLH: The planet of Samar has been populated by Humans from Earth; however, on the voyage to this new world, strange things happened to one third of the population and they developed psychic powers and telekinesis. The second third became small in stature, while the final third remained in stasis and did not evolve. Once on the new planet, they segregated themselves based on these anomalies and led very different lives. An indigenous species called Orahim were discovered. They are lizard-like humanoids.
SPS: Tell us a little about Kai and his journey from privileged life to conflict?
MLH: Kai thinks his worst problem is convincing his royal parents that he should be allowed to marry a simple townsgirl. One ill-fated fencing lesson demonstrates he is far more than the prince of a small kingdom. As he ventures forth to discover who he is, his entire world is destroyed and he is left alone and forsaken. He must decide if he will fight back or slink away, ignoring the pleas of his people.
SPS: Are there any other characters we should be on the lookout for?
MLH: The mysterious Cy, a mercenary who carries his own dark secrets.
SPS: How does he react upon learning the only man who can help him is his enemy?
MLH: He’s devastated. He feels betrayed and angry and broken. And more than that, he despairs, which makes him ripe for a man like Gava, his archenemy, to exploit.
SPS: What does the future hold in the following books in the series? Are there any characters introduced in the later books you are particularly fond of?
MLH: The second book, The Heirs of Eldon, is about the next generation, Kai’s sons. The third through fifth books are about the third generation. I became very fond of Talar and Shara, and their tragic love story.
SPS: We always like to take a moment to look at an author’s book covers. Can you tell us a little about how your covers for the World of Samar novels came about?
MLH: The wonderful Peter Fussey from Wild Wolf Publications designs my covers for the World of Samar series. Each one is a scene from the book and let me tell you, he brings my words to life. He’s amazing.
SPS: What we can we expect next from the pen of ML Hamilton?
MLH: I am working on a contemporary fantasy right now and for the first time, I’m writing in first person. It’s pretty exciting for me. I’m also planning a spin-off on Peyton’s story, called Peyton Brooks, FBI.
Look for the next World of Samar novel to be published through Wild Wolf in a couple of months.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
MLH: No, at first, I felt I needed the legitimacy of a publisher, and honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I cannot thank Wild Wolf enough for teaching me all that I’ve learned in the last four years. That said, I absolutely love having full control over the murder mysteries. I’m glad I’ve had a chance to experience both ways of publishing.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
MLH: I can’t explain how it feels to have someone send me a note, telling me how much he or she enjoyed my novels. There is no better feeling than that. For so many years, I was terrified to let anyone read what I wrote. Lord, am I glad I got over that!
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
MLH: Turn off the television and write. It helps to have the end in mind, but most importantly, give your characters as much of a life as you possibly can.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
MLH: There are so many good indie writers out there right now. Give them a chance. The most innovative plots and characters are happening in the indie world and you might be surprised what a gem you may find. I think your site is a brilliant place to start to find your next favorite writer.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today Michelle, and all the best for the future.
MLH: Thank you so much for these thoughtful questions. I enjoyed answering them.
SPS: For more information on ML Hamilton and her work, please do visit her Author page here.
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