September 25, 2016

Victoria Abbott and Mary Jane Maffini - Cozy Mystery Author Spotlight and Interview

I am going to be hosting a number of cozy mystery authors on my blog for the next two months. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a cozy mystery I encourage you to do so. The cozy mystery industry as a whole is in danger of being lost as the publishers are ending a number of series. Please note that not all series I will be sharing are in danger. There are many that will be continuting on as normal. I just wanted to do my part to make everyone aware of this genre as a whole. 

Today I will be showcasing Victoria Abbott
Book Collector Series

About the author:

That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is a happy collaboration between the artist, photographer and short story author, Victoria Maffini, and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, lapsed librarian and award-winning author of three mystery series and two dozen short stories.

Their contemporary and humorous book collector mysteries draw from the beloved authors of the golden age of detection. There is no extra charge for the crooked Irish uncles or the pug. The good news is that while they’ve written five books together, they haven’t killed each other. Yet. 

In other good news, their fourth book collector mystery, The Marsh Madness, won the 2016 Bony Blithe award for ‘mysteries that make us smile’. They’re smiling because their fifth book collector mystery will be released on October 4th.

You can find more at: or

You can sign up for their e-newsletter (contests, book news, dog fashions, nonsense and recipes) through either website.

Charlotte Adams Series

Where to follow this author:

Fiona Silk Series

When did your love of writing begin?
We have to answer this separately! MJ has been writing for a long time, since she was a child. She swears she had a cozy series in grade school. Her first real book came out in 1999 and it took a long time to learn how to write a mystery before that. Victoria has been writing short stories since the late nineties. It is hard to separate our love of writing, in general, from writing mystery. We think of ourselves as ‘word people’.

How did you chose to write in this genre?
Well, truth be told, MJ once wrote fifty pages of a very bad romance novel (so bad she couldn’t read it herself!) and then decided to write something she loved reading and knew something about. Victoria also loves mystery and at one time they were part of Prime Crime Mystery Bookstore, a specialized bookshop that was a lot of fun, sort of like Santa’s toy shop for mystery lovers.

Do you have a scheduled writing time, place and/or routine?
We now get together every Monday morning to have a little business meeting and plot what will happen next in our book. Don’t tell anyone, but we have a great new idea!

In between we write when we find time and MJ works on her own projects from 7 – 9 pm in the evenings. Victoria is painting then.

What do you do to get over writer's block?
There’s nothing like the hot breath of a deadline on your neck to get you over writer’s block, but there are lots of other tricks: Stay in the chair. Don’t wait until you feel like writing, because you won’t. Do some little housekeeping job connected to whatever you are procrastinating about. Remember that ‘writers write’ and you can always fix what you’ve written.

What was it like to get your first publishing contract?
It was thrilling. MJ sold her first book the day she sold her house with two weeks to move, so also a bit panicky. When we first got our contract, as Victoria Abbott, for the book collector mysteries, we were over the moon.

How has the publishing/writing world changed since you first started writing?
There is a lot more emphasis on promotion and authors are expected to do most of it. There wasn’t really a hint of that when MJ started. The use of social media to promote books and also to stay engaged with readers is also new. It is wonderful to interact with readers, but sometimes it is also 24/7! The other thing is the advent of e-books and readers and online ordering: books are much more easily available than they used to be, whether you are near a bookstore or not.

Whatever, the business is evolving and we have to move with the times.

You write about strong female characters. Are they modeled after anyone?
We think that women sleuths in cozies are so successful because they are like the women we are related to, they are like our friends and like our co-workers: we all know so many great, strong women that we could count on in a crisis. We use the characteristics that we love about the women in our lives rather than the personality of anyone in particular. Seriously, readers: aren’t the women in your life terrific? Couldn’t we count on them and you in a tight spot? Of course, modern women make great models.

When you are not writing what do you like to do?

Victoria is an artist and photographer who also loves to garden and cuddle her pug, Peaches. MJ enjoys knitting, exercise, reading, cooking, and spending time with her princess dachshunds, Daisy and Lily. She likes lunches out too as her tight waistband will tell you.

Do you have any advice for beginning authors?
Learn the craft! Take your time and find out what makes the kind of book you want to write. At the same time, when you are telling your story, pump it out. If you take too long or fuss too much, it will lack pace. Finally, do not give up. You have to play the long game if you want to be in print.

Do you have a favorite author or book you would like to recommend to your readers?

We actually have an era to recommend: the Golden Age of Detection. Although our book collector mysteries are contemporary, we have made connections with the great authors and characters of this age, one per book. We connected with Agatha Christie’s legacy in The Christie Curse, Dorothy L. Sayers’s body of work (and particularly her sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey) in The Sayers Swindle, and Rex Stout’s great detective Nero Wolfe and sidekick, Archie Goodwin ) in The Wolfe Widow. We turned our attention to Ngaio Marsh in The Marsh Madness and we were glad we did. Now, with The Hammett Hex coming out, we are enjoying the legacy of Dashiell Hammett, his detectives and the mysteriousness he explored in San Francisco. We told our characters not to trust anyone as a result.

We often have readers tell us that they discovered one of these authors through the book collector mysteries. That makes our day.

Please tell us five random things about yourself
We are addicted to British crime shows.
We live in Ontario, about forty-five minutes from the US border in Upstate New York.
We both love walking in the woods.
We think that laughter is the best medicine.
We think that chocolate is essential to health and happiness.

Camilla McPhee Series

What did I learn about this author:
I learned that they were a part of Prime Crime Mystery Bookstore. I would love to visit that it sounds right up my alley. Victoria and MJ meet each Monday to discuss what is going to happen next in their books. The strong characters are based on peope they know. Victoria likes to paint and MJ likes to knit. Both are addicted to British crime show and live in Ontario. What did you learn?

Stay tuned for the next author. 

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