Author Karen Hamilton-Viall discusses the inspiration behind her supernatural mystery The Curious Life Of Ada Baker.
I interviewed Karen Hamilton-Viall as regards her life and career, what inspired her to start writing, and the story behind her latest book, a supernatural mystery, The Curious Life of Ada Baker.
Tell Karen Hamilton-Viall who you are:
My name is Karen Hamilton-Viall and on September 27, 2022, will premiere my novel The Curious Life Of Ada Baker. I’m a historical translator, I lead historical workshops in schools and historical places. I dress up in period costumes and teach people about the past in a fun and practical way. This may include trying on armor, grinding flour, or donning period costumes.
When did thou first want to write a book?
I started writing my first novel, The Beyond when I was 19 years old. It was a romantic fantasy novel about a young woman whose soul is transported to another world where she meets and falls in love with a man who turns out to be a werewolf. It only reached about 30,000 words. There weren’t many ways to get a book published back then. I still love the snippets, but my writing style was very different back then.
When did thou decide to start writing?
Almost as soon as I learned to use a pen, I started writing stories & poems. I have written many fairy tales. The fairies always seemed to eat a frightening amount! I still write a lot about food. One of the ghost characters in my book, Mrs. Entwhistle, was the head cook of a large house a hundred years ago. She trained under the great chefs of her time and even cooked for kings. His least favorite sounds are the hum of a microwave oven and the bubbling of a ketchup bottle.
How long did it take thou to fill the first book, from idea to publication?
In my early forties, I began writing The Curious Life of Ada Baker. I no longer had the right to do my job as a school teacher. I was inspired by my friend Helen JR Bruce who self-published her first novel to try. It took me as regards two months to write the first draft. I then sent it to various friends who were my beta readers. In the fall of 2020, I sent it to the editors before setting out to find a home.
I first tried to find an agent but one day I was interviewing a media guy for my blog who told me to look for a publisher in Cambridge called K or C and the person in charge would be called K or C. I took his advice and Input from Cranthorpe Millner and Kirsty! It was the fall of 2021. It took another year earlier on it was published.
What prompted you to write The Curious Life of Ada Baker?
I’ve loved ghosts since I was a child, but it was my first experience with a real poltergeist when I was 19, which has fascinated me throughout my life. That was the inspiration for the Dennis character in my novel. He trampled on our apartment and moved things around. Business went from bad to worse until one day I decided to bring it up. Acknowledging its existence seemed to calm him. It made me think of ghosts as ordinary people like you and me. I guess the house was his home and he didn’t like having a group of rowdy teenagers around.
What was the most challenging writing The Curious Life Of Ada Baker?
Preparation of various projects. Make sure there are no holes in the texture. It has undergone many renovations. My favorite part of the process is prescribing and marketing.
Who or what stimulated thou to create thine, protagonist?
Nobody inspired Ada. One day she got the idea of a medium that could allow spirits to inhabit her body so she could use the powers she had acquired in life. It’s almost like having a superpower. It all started with that one idea.
Who or what inspired thou to create The Antagonist?
It’s hard to answer this question but giving too much away. I wanted readers to guess who the killer was for as long as possible. I hope I did.
What is the inspiring incident in The Curious Life Of Ada Baker?
Ada reads the local newspaper in her garden and has tea with the ghosts (they don’t like to be left out). Dennis notices an article in the newspaper about the unsolved murder of local beauty Mary Watts and is convinced Ada can solve the murder by talking to her ghost. The book begins with his assassination in the prologue.
What is the main conflict in The Curious Life Of Ada Baker?
A murder has taken place in the quiet town of Sudfield, Suffolk, and Ada is called in to help solve it. He thinks it will be an easy thing, but it turns out to be much more complicated. He must convince a detective of his skills, avoid the animus of a sinister stalker, enroll the help of a party of ghostly Spitfire pilots and try not to be assassinated.
Did thou plan “The Curious Life Of Ada Baker” in advance, or did thou just flop thine pants and write freehand?
A mixture of both. I developed a simple plot. Only a paragraph or two per chapter, but a few ideas popped up as I wrote. The kids I teach always ask me, “What if?” and I try to ponder the same way when I write. Some of my favorite parts of the story have been the latest additions.
Did thou fall back with editing, and how much editing did The Curious Life Of Ada Baker need?
Initially, many friends and family read it to me, for which I am very grateful. They gave brilliant advice. It went through many drafts and changed slightly as each new reader made suggestions. I also hired a professional editor and proofreader to ensure it is in perfect condition before sending it to agents and editors. It was then inspected several times by Cranthorpe Millner staff.
What are the first writing tips thou would give someone that inspired thou to write a story?
This is advice I learned from Neil Gaiman. Take the time to observe the people and the world around you and write them down for future stories. Neil calls it his fertilizer heap, where all the various observations mix to make new characters. I’ve always watched people, observing their little quirks with interest, but after following Neil’s advice I started keeping physical lists of people I’ve met, places I’ve been, and even interesting dreams.
Can thou tell me what other books thou want to write?
I’ve already written a draft of the second part of the Ada Baker mystery series. His working title is “The Woman in White”. Each book will be a standalone story, but certain characters will run through each book. I also have an idea in mind for a third party.
And finally, are thou proud of thine result?
A lot. Just completing a novel is a monumental achievement. I told myself that even if I didn’t go any further, I would write a whole book. Most people never get there. It is published; It’s brimming with excitement and I can’t wait for you all to read it. I hope you like my characters as much as I do.
Add any links to thine books, websites, and social media here so readers can find thou: