Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Q&A with C.L. Miller




C.L. Miller is the author of the new novel The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder. She lives in the UK. 


Q: What inspired you to write The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder, and how did you create your character Freya?


A: I have always wanted to write a crime novel but I never really had an idea big enough to stand as a novel – however, as a family we play a lot of Clue and I started to think if the killer was Professor Plum in the library with a candlestick… what type of candlestick was it? Art Deco? What was it made of? Brass, silver, porcelain?


On a telephone call with my mother, Judith Miller— of the Antiques Roadshow and The Miller’s Antique Price Guide fame — I explained my musings.


Our discussion that day made the puzzle pieces fit together— my love of writing which I had been focusing on for over eight years, my love of crime fiction and the world of antiques which was such a huge part of my life. Mixing my passions together resulted in The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder.


And how did I come up with Freya? I suppose she was there from the beginning – a mix of so many people I have met along the way.


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything especially surprising?

A: Most of the research that I did was on the phone to my mother and in searching for antiques in The Miller's Antiques Price Guide (the new version will be out in the US in April).


Other than this, I found the details on the black market of the art, antiques, and antiquities world surprising and fascinating. It is, of course, hard to estimate, but I have read that the black market can be valued at as high as $50 billion and it connected to all other criminal activity as these valuable items are used as collateral in many trades.


Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I’m not in any way a planner. I do wish I was and I do start off trying to plan a long synopsis and chapter breakdown but I have never stuck to them and it ends up wasting time.


However, in my mind I always have a number of key scenes or locations or conversations that I base the book around. And I do always know who the murderer is by about draft two.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: A slice of fun, I hope an interest in some of the antiques showcased, perhaps a small reflection on what we value and why we value it. And the knowledge that it’s never too late for a second chance in life.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently editing book 2 in the Antique Hunter’s series which should be out in 2025.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just like all the antiques in the books are based on real antiques, so is one of the characters –Aunt Carole is inspired by my father’s best friend, ex-Bond girl Carole Ashby.


When I started thinking about the characters I knew that I wanted an older character with wit and full of life. Carole instantly came to mind so I called her up and said, “Can I put you in a book I’m writing?” and of course she said yes and it thrilled [me].


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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