My journey, from quiltmaking to writing novels about quilters, started at the library. I’ve always been a voracious reader, so it was a natural place for me to learn about quilting.
Twenty-five years ago, I checked out a book on quilt making. There were few quilting books being printed back then, and only one or two in my library. The big innovation in this book was the idea of chain piecing, just pushing one set of blocks under the presser foot without cutting the thread. What a timesaver!
The instructions were for a rail fence quilt that was cut out by hand, using a pen to mark off rectangles and scissors to cut them out. My bloodstains can still be seen where I nicked myself as I worked. A twin size quilt took me three nights to cut out. Is it any wonder I didn’t quilt again for five years?
Here’s a picture of that quilt. I was so proud of it. Have mercy. Fabric choices were limited back then.
When I got laid off from my job (anyone remember the eighties recession?), I took my first quilt class. Despite that it was hand piecing and the teacher disapproved of more than three fabrics in a quilt, I was hooked. I must hold the record for checking out the library’s copy of "Quilts, Quilts, Quilts" by McClun and Nownes. I was so thrilled when the family budget eased so I could buy my very own copy.
At the same time, I began writing fiction. I wrote a romance that was rejected by three publishers. That experience taught me that my real love was mysteries and that I wanted to read about people like me and the people I knew, who were quilters.
On another trip to the library I met Laurie R. King, a successful novelist. Hearing her talk forced me to get serious. I began taking writing classes, and stated my intention before my classmates to write a mystery demonstrating that quilters were as venal and murderous as the rest of the population. When that got a laugh, I knew I was on to something. I began work on WILD GOOSE CHASE, my first quilting mystery. I was working in a quilt shop at the time, teaching rotary cutting, so the weapon was a no-brainer.
When I saw the cover with the bloody rotary cutter with my name inscribed on the handle, I was thrilled. It was like making that first quilt all over again.
I’ve made dozens and dozens of quilts since that first one. The blocks in this one pictured here accompanied me to writing conferences where I hand sewed the circles. It was a conversation starter.
I’ve written five books, three quilting mysteries and two rubber stamping mysteries. WILD GOOSE CHASE, OLD MAID’S PUZZLE, and STAMPED OUT were released in 2008. OCEAN WAVES and INKED UP will be out this year.
Quilting has brought me my closest friends and allowed to me to fulfill my greatest ambition, to write a mystery novel.
It all started at the library. How about you? Are you a library user? Better yet, a librarian? Have you ever set foot in a library?
Leave your comment about libraries, books or quilts and you’ll be entered to win an autographed copy of WILD GOOSE CHASE, the first Quilting Mystery in the series. The lucky winner will be chosen on Friday, February 27, 2009.