Cynthia Hamilton - A Cleverly Crafted Mystery
Cynthia Hamilton lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband and their extended family. She loves reading, writing, discussing books with other book lovers, and walking for hours, especially on the beach. She writes a variety of genres and is currently working on the 9th book in the Madeline Dawkins Mystery Series, still finding tremendous inspiration from her protagonist. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, Houses of Deception.
Please give us a short introduction to what Houses of Deception is about.
There are two separate storylines in “Houses of Deception,” Book 6 in the Madeline Dawkins Mystery Series. Both are missing-person cases. And both are anything but straightforward.
Dylan Latham, the son of the private investigator Madeline turned to five years earlier when her world imploded, has disappeared. He hasn’t been seen by his employer or landlord in several days. Because of the price Burt Latham paid while helping her fight a monster, finding Dylan is a mission she can’t fail to complete.
Before sunrise the following morning, Madeline receives a frantic call from a Current Affairs client. Troy Richardson’s wife disappeared just hours after the event her company orchestrated for their fifth anniversary. Tara’s car, cell phone, and handbag are there, but Tara is nowhere on the property.
Madeline and her team dive into both cases, but they are anything straightforward. Lies, intrigue, and hidden agendas lead a twisty path to the truth.
What inspired you to write this book? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
I saw an ad in one of our local publications featuring a husband and wife real estate duo, who apparently thought a photo of them coming out of the church on their wedding day was the perfect advertising vehicle. That photo immediately sparked my imagination, and I just let it go wild. I had a lot of fun with this fictional couple and all the twists that popped up along the way.
What makes Madeline Dawkins so special?
Madeline came by the dual careers that hard way. Her perfect world came crashing down around her one day, and the first book in the series – Spouse Trap – is all about her fighting for her life. She comes away from her ordeal with two careers that forged for herself as an event planner and private investigator. The 2nd book in the series – A High Price to Pay – picks up three years later when becomes a licensed PI.
What drew you to mystery as a genre?
My first attempt at writing was a mystery, and the premise for it came to me one day while walking through a nature preserve. The sight of three hawks circling overhead sparked a memory of an eulogy of a friend who died in a very suspicious (to my mind) death in a car accident in a remote area in Mexico. That was my first book, which was a mystery. I now consider it a practice book.
I wrote six more books before the idea for Madeline's character came to me. I have always enjoyed reading mysteries, and now I’m sort of addicted to writing them. That genre is so full of potential – you can go anywhere with it and do anything.
Have you always wanted to be an author? Please tell us more about your writing journey.
No. I fervently believed I couldn’t write if my life depended on it. I conveniently forgot about my limitations when I looking for a creative outlook I could pursue from bed, if it came to that. This was way back in 2000. Since I had access to a laptop computer, I thought writing was a perfect way to keep my mind off of deteriorating health. I started the first book on my birthday in 2000 and finished it on my birthday, then started on the next book.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I used to paint and make mosaic furniture, and I taught myself to sew when I was seven or eight, on what I believe was the first sewing machine ever made.
This is Book 6 in the Madeline Dawkins series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Yes, all of the books in the series are written with a certain amount of backstory so readers can pick up the series in any order they wish.
Why did you title this book "Houses of Deception"?
I think a lot of people have personal and public personas, and we can think we know someone who we’ve been acquainted with for years only to find out they have a side to themselves most who know them never knew about. That fits with the themes in this book.
Readers find your characters very relatable. Are they inspired by any people you know?
Yes, some have been. In most cases, I make sure to tweak the characters so that they are merely a product of my imagination.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plan out your books before you start writing?
Pantser. The only book I really researched is the one about my mom called “Finding Ruth.” It is a book based on her life and the urge to tell her story came to me when I had to vacate her apartment after she went into an assisted living home/hospital. That was quite the journey. I gave me so much more insight into a woman I had known all my life. I fictionalized it because I wanted to imagine my mom’s point of view throughout her crazy, tumultuous life. She was a woman with so much promise, so much going for her. Fate and bad decisions squelched that promise. I found the arc of her story quite profound. As Alzheimer’s stole her memories, her outlook in general changed. She was sweeter once her past no longer haunted her.
As a side note, I was able to publish that book before she passed. My brother and sister sent me a video of her when they presented the book to her. She was all smiles. For better or worse, she was no longer able to read, but she loved that cover. It was so endearing when she said, “I’ve got to admit, that’s a pretty darn good photo.” I still tear up when I think of that video but in a happy way.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the 9th book in the Madeline Series. Crazy things are happening. : )
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can learn more about me and my books and contact me through my website: https://cynthiahamiltonbooks.com/
I’m on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/434917.Cynthia_Hamilton I’m on Twitter (X) and Facebook, but I haven’t had much time for those platforms lately. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to back into the groove.
Madeline gets a text from Russell Barnett-the P.I. who trained her and Mike, when leaving an event Current Affairs hosted. Russell needs their help finding his nephew, the son of the man who lost his life while trying to save Madeline’s. A frantic call the next morning phone from the event client propels the detectives down a rabbit hole as a missing person case turns into a kidnapping for ransom