In honor of my GIVEAWAY of Clare O'Donohue's new book, The Devil's Puzzle, I have a Q&A with the author. What fun. I tried to ask questions of interest to quilters and readers alike. I hope you enjoy. Don't forget, leave a comment on the original post (here) for a chance to win.
1. I noticed, from your website, that you made a Drunkard' Path (Book #2). Have you made a quilt from each book title?
Not yet – though I’d like to at some point. I made the drunkard’s path quilt as part of an Accuquilt raffle, so I didn’t even get to keep it, but I have been collecting blue and white fabrics to make one for myself. And I’ve been thinking of making a Lover’s Knot table runner, but it hasn’t gotten past the planning stages.
2. How do you go about matching a quilt block with the books? Do you have a list of names that you would like to use?
I look for names that are interesting for both quilters and non-quilters, as well as have a mysterious feel – so something like The Devil’s Puzzle, is great. Unfortunately, there aren’t many patterns that fit the bill so it’s always a struggle to come up with a great title.
3. I know I am fascinated by how people learned to quilt. Especially in an age of technology. Who taught you to quilt?
I’m a self-taught quilter. There’s no tradition of quilting in my family, though my grandmother did make clothes. I loved the look of quilts, and thought (foolishly) it would be less expensive to make one than to buy one, so I gave it a try. My first quilt was a 5 foot square hand-pieced hexagon quilt, which just shows you how nuts I was. My first ‘real’ quilt was log cabin. I call it a real quilt because I knew enough by then to have quarter inch seams, and to quilt evenly across the surface.
4. What was it like working on Simply Quilts surrounded by such wonderful artists?
It was an amazing experience. Alex Anderson is a dream to work with, and I met wonderful quilters, from Eleanor Burns and Georgia Bonesteel to Jinny Beyer and Caryl Bryer Fallert. Seeing the quilts up close was absolutely heaven for me. At the end of each season (I worked on four of them) the producers would divide up the stuff, so I still have many of the rulers, fabric, pins and books that we used on the show.
5. Do you have a writing routine? I know you have a brand new book out, Devil's Puzzle, and another book, Kate Conway Series, coming out in Spring 2012. WOW. There must be a routine.
Yes and no. Usually I aim to write about 25 pages a week. Ideally, I write Monday through Friday from about 10am to 5pm, which includes time blogging, updating Facebook, and watching downloaded episodes of Dexter. Sometimes, though, it’s not ideal and I have forgo my goofing off time. I still work as a freelance TV producer. I don’t work at that job every day, but when I do, I have to travel, so I write in airports, hotel rooms and while my crew is setting up for an interview. As long as I find my 25 pages somewhere in that week, I feel I’m on schedule.
6. With your busy schedule of writing, promoting, traveling, etc...do you still find time to quilt? I know you are knitting, that's a lot easier to travel with.
Quilting is my sanity, so I make time for it one way or another. If I’m home, I usually mark out space on Sundays to quilt but I’m also working on a few hand-pieced projects, so I can take those with me when I travel. Right now I’m doing a hand appliqué project. I haven’t done a lot of hand appliqué and this has thin vines and tiny pieces. I love it, but it’s also a challenge for me.
Do you follow a process for writing? I know some writer's just sit down and start writing with little idea of where the story will take them. Other's plan flow charts of major scenes and events. Where do you fall?
I don’t go into a book cold, but I don’t have a detailed plan either. I know the story I want to tell, and who the characters are. I usually have a synopsis of six or seven pages that highlights the major plot points. But that’s it. I don’t know every scene, and I usually don’t know who the killer is until I’m well into the first draft. I like to get to know everyone, and really let the characters determine their fate. I find it’s more fun that way.
8. (& 9 combined) I haven't read the Kate Conway series. (My library didn't have it this weekend!) The mood seems very different from the Someday Quilt Series. Was it hard switching to a different style and mood?
It is very different – more cynical, a bit deeper. I had this character in mind and I wanted to see what I could do with her, and Missing Persons is the book that came out. I don’t find it difficult to switch. I can keep two quilting projects separate, two friends separate… so really, keeping the characters separate isn’t much different. In fact, I think moving back and forth is refreshing. It allows me to take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes – the way working on multiple quilt projects actually makes each one more interesting.
10. I know you have pulled names for your characters from those around you. In reading the Someday Quilt Series I have fallen in love with the ladies in the Quilt Club. The experiences Nell has with the older ladies and quilting is similar to real life experiences I have had with guilds. The ladies are always so willing to help the newbies out. Are any of these characters taken from people you have experienced in real life?
While the supportive, fun nature of a group of quilters is something I’ve gotten from my own experience, none of the characters are based on anyone in particular. I wanted a diverse group, in age and backgrounds, and as I created the characters they developed their own personalities. They feel very real to me, but everyone from Nell to Barney the dog is purely fiction.
Don't forget leave a comment on the original post for a chance to win!