Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quilter Clare O'Donohue, Author of The Lover's Knot

Writer's Block Quilt Block
 
For the month of June, the Quilters' Book Club is reading and discussing The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donohue.  If you like to both read and quilt, check out the book from your local library and join us!  (More information on the Quilters' Book Club is available across the top of my blog.)   
 
On her website, Clare writes:  "I was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of four children.  My parents are both from Ireland, but they met in London, moved to the US, and settled on Chicago’s South Side, where I was born and raised.

"I always knew I wanted to be a writer and in fact wrote my first novel (mini-novel actually.  It was 60 pages) when I was 15.  It was a mystery.  After college I worked as a newspaper reporter and writing teacher before moving to LA and getting my first job in television.  That was on the HGTV show, Simply Quilts.

"I worked on the show for four seasons, eventually becoming the Supervising Producer, but I’ve written and produced for a lot of other shows as well.  In the last twelve years, I’ve worked on shows for The History Channel, truTV, Food Network, A&E, Discovery, TLC, and others.  My work has taken me all across the US and abroad and I’ve met a diverse group of people – from CEO’s to prison inmates, Malaysian orphans to famous athletes.
 
"But all along I thought about writing a novel.  I still loved mysteries so I finally sat down to write one.  And lucky for me, I had the time.  There’s a lot of what we in the freelance world like to call downtime, but is more commonly known as unemployment.  Since I wasn’t earning any money, I also had motivation to write something that could catch the interest of a publisher.
 

"And, luckily, I did.  In 2008 I published The Lover’s Knot, the first in the Someday Quilts series.  Now I’ve added A Drunkard’s Path and The Double Cross, and The Devil’s Puzzle.  The 5th in that series will be released in September of 2013 and look for two e-stories to be available soon.
 
"I am a quilter. It’s something I get asked a lot since the art form is such a huge part of each of my Someday novels. I’ve made dozens of mostly traditional quilts, though often I incorporate modern fabrics – like a Kaffe Fassett log cabin or a batik drunkard’s path. I used to think I could give up the habit, or at least cut down on my fabric purchases, but no luck. As addictions go, I guess it’s a pretty harmless one, so I’m going to keep quilting until I use up my entire stash. (HA!)"  http://clareodonohue.com/
 
Is it important to you that Clare, as author of a quilting mystery series, is actually a quilter as well as a writer?  Are there any questions that you'd like to ask Clare?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Please respond in the comment section below.  (If you are reading this via email, you must click on the blog title in order to comment and be able to read the comments of others.) 
 
By commenting, you are also entering your name to enter a giveaway for a $20 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop, courtesy of Fat Quarter Shop!  Winner will be announced July 1.
 
You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.

56 comments:

  1. I think it is important that a writer actually knows what she is talking about. If a book is well researched, it doesn't matter if the person actually does what's in the book. We wouldn't want authors to become like all the characters they write about!

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    1. I agree. I do quilt, but there's lots of stuff I don't do, like murder people, that I write about. Research is the key - as well as an interest in whatever the topic is.

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  2. If you are going to write knowledgeably about quilting, then you need to know about quilting, and not just from books.

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    1. There are some good mysteries about quilting written by non-quilters, but I will say it's been so much fun for me to share my love of quilting through my books, and I hope it makes it feel more real for the reader.

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  3. I can't imagine a writer writing something they didn't know something about or at the very least have it well researched.

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    1. I think part of the fun is research. I took several art classes because my main character became an art student and I wanted to get it right. Of course, I've always wanted to take art classes, so it was really just an excuse. I agree it's important for the writer to know his or her topic, or else you readers will sense the hesitation and inaccuracy.

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  4. Okay - I've just ordered the book! Count me in. I think it would be disrespectful for a non-quilter to write a quilt novel. The book would certainly seem inauthentic - you just can't fake passion.

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    1. Thanks Nancy! I've been a quilter for many years, and I love being able to share my little inside knowledge with readers. I know there are quilt novels written by non quilters, but for me, it was important to write about what I knew and loved.

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  5. I think it all depends on the story as to whether they need to know everything about quilting. One of the best books I have ever read was by Francine Rivers and the book is, The Scarlet Thread. Francine does not quilt but the story should not be discounted because of that because it's not teaching us to quilt in the book. It's a story about a quilt. All of Francines' books are worth reading. I read one and had to go back and get the next one and then the next one and on and on until I read them all. They are not sequels, they are stand a lone books.

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    1. I have not read Francine Rivers, but I will check her out. There are other non-quilt authors who write about quilting as well. Having a love and respect for the craft, as well as doing research on it, is very important. Thanks for the intro to a new author!

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  6. I think it helps if the author had a good understanding of the love and passion of quilting, but they don't necessary have to actually do it. The greater your knowledge in your writing material, the more likely you are to have a bestseller.

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    1. Diane, I agree. Writers write what we know, and we also write what we want to know (so we do research). In the case of quilting, it has long been a passion of mine and I'm excited I get to share it through my characters.

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  7. Lovely block. I find your work so good and inspiring. Makes me want to do each and ever block that I see here.

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    1. Thanks so much. I have a plan to make a quilt for every one of my books, based on the title. So far, I've made a drunkard's path and the lover's knot quilt is in the works.

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    2. I would love to see what block you use ... hint hint hint.

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  8. If the writer doesn't quilt then they need to have access to quilters and at least watch how people quilt. That is easier these days. It's a plus when the writer is familiar with that part of the story but it all depends on the story. Are the quilts taking a back seat in the story, for instance, or are they the thread that ties everything together.

    I just received my book today in the mail so now I can start to read it! YAY!

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    1. Thanks Bonni- I hope you enjoy the book! For me, the quilts needed to be a part of the story - the process of making one and the reasons quilters do what we do. And, absolutely, in other books they represent tradition, home, and the bonding of women - so the actual process isn't important. I'm just always excited to see a quilt mentioned in a book!

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  9. I am curious if Clare has a set time that she writes every day or a set number of pages that she writes or does she have more of a flex schedule.

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    1. I wish I could do that. I still work full time as a TV producer, so it means that I have to write around my work schedule. I try to write five days a week, taking weekends off.

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  10. I think it would be interesting to know if her characters are patterned after people she has known and if any character might be more like herself. Also,I would be curious to know if she knows the outcome of the mystery before she begins or if it might change along the way. Does she need to BE a QUILTER? I'll bet if McCall Smith wrote a quilting mystery, it would be terrific!

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    1. Julie- None of my characters are based on actual people. They are all imaginary friends, I guess, who have their own full lives that I happen to write about. And no, I don't know who the killer is when I start. For me, finding out is half the reason I write the book.

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  11. It makes her knowledge a step closer to what she writes. You don't have to know first-hand about a subject to write about it, but the passion quilters have for quilting comes out when a quilter is writing!

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    1. We quilters are passionate about our craft, and I wanted that - as well as the friendships women form because of it - to be a centerpiece of the books. It's been my experience as a quilter, and it's been fun to write about.

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  12. I love it when I read a book and I get the urge to look into something related to the story-quilting, history, whatever. It makes it come alive for me. Thank you for all of your hard work when writing your books. I really appreciate it. vickise at gmail dot com

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  13. It sure is important for both the readers and the author. It should be easier to write about the subject if you are passionate about it too:)

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    1. Absolutely. It's why authors write what we know - and what we care about.

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  14. I believe it is better to write about something you know. I like reading about the quilt and know that she/he has actually done, but I know that you can find out from someone else. I wouldn't not read the author if I found out that she/he didn't actually quilt.

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    1. Nancy - I love being able to talk about quilting, and why it's so important to me, through my characters. There are good books about quilting written by non quilters, but for me it was essential to the story and the world I created in Archers Rest.

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  15. Good Morning, I will be picking up the book "The Lover's Knot" from my local library today. Looking forward to a good mystery. I too would like to know if you already have a good idea as what the outcome will be or do you just write as the ideas come? Thank you. Blessings and smiles, Emilou :-) elyws at yahoo dot com.

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    1. Hi Emilou- Thanks for supporting your library (and me)! I don't know what the outcome will be when I sit down to write. I enjoy figuring it out as I go when I'm writing my first draft. There's plenty of time later for rewrites to add in clues etc... once I know the ending.

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  16. I think it is great that the author actually knows from experience what she's writing about. It isn't necessary for her to actually quilt if she can be knowledgeable about the process, but it enhances the "flavor" of the writing when we know she does quilt!

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    1. Thanks. I find that it allows me to write about some of the more "inside" stuff - the terms, the famous quilters etc... that I wouldn't know about otherwise, and I hope this adds to the readers experience.

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  17. I think it is important that the writer knows how to quilt. Unless very well done, most people can tell when you don't really know your subject and it ruins the novel.

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    1. True. It keeps me learning about new things, and trying new things, from art classes to scuba lessons, so that I can write about lots of different subjects, and it has the added benefit of being fun.

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  18. I'm waiting for my book to come in I ordered it as soon as it was discussed on the blog, I too think it's important to know the matter that your writing on, especially something like quilting. There is such a diverse spectrum of basics, ideas, designs, I was amazed just how much was out there when I first started quilting and that was only a couple of years ago. I'm very picky when it comes to my author's and their subject matter I'm not the type of person that would just pick up a book based on what's written on the jacket. I ordered this book because of what I've read leading up to this book of the month club.

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  19. I think a book would have a more sincere ring to it if the writer has a working knowledge of the subject.

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    1. Joan- It does. It would be very difficult for me to write with enthusiasm about hockey, for example, since I don't pay much attention to the sport. I could do it with lots of research, and maybe then I would love it, but I think it's more fun for me, and the reader, to express my interests in my writing.

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  20. Having done some writing and taking some classes, I learned one of the things a writer needs is some knowledge of the subject - in a novel especially to set the scenes and credible characters. I like that Sandra is a quilter.

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    1. It's very important to know what you're writing about - either first hand or through research. And it helps to bring your personal experience to the characters - you are absolutely right, it makes them more credible and interesting for the reader. And more fun to write about.

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  21. What other authors does Clare enjoy reading?

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    1. Sallie - Lots of people! Everyone from Julie Hyzy to Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard to Charlene Harris. A good story is a good story, and I love light happy mysteries and dark, scary ones. I wish I had more time to read!

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  22. I love to read a good mystery but it has to have a good plot to it. I have started reading some books and they just dont have a really good plot so I have to go to another one. I also think when writing a book the author needs to research and be able to use the knowledge of the research in order to keep ones interest.

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    1. Margaret-
      I think the secret is that the author has to be passionate about the subject. Sometimes I talk to writers who are penning a series because the topic - whether it's quilting or fly fishing or whatever - is "selling". While I understand that it's important to write what people want to read, when the author isn't invested in the topic, it shows in the writing.

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  23. It's the details that make a book interesting. The main plot line may be fine, but unless you know what colour her jacket is, whether her pizza is soggy or crisp, or why she uses a leather thimble and not a ,metal one, you cannot become immersed in her life. I haven't read these books, but I will keep an eye out for them.

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    1. Lisa- I hope you enjoy them. And yes, it is the details that bring you into the story. Sandra Dallas is wonderful at that, by the way.

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  24. I love mysteries. As a matter of fact I have been reading Georgette Heyer recently. They are very dated, but plenty of "who done it" theories. She was a prolific writer. How do you get so many new ideas??

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    1. I have so many ideas.... it's like quilting. How many quilts that you plan to make will you actually end up making? So many ideas, plans, projects... but finding the time to do them is the challenge. It's the same with books. I have more books in my head than I will ever get the time to write. So I'm writing as fast as I can!

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  25. Awesome! I will have to seek out one of your books at our local library. :) Do you have other hobbies that you might turn into books one day?

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  26. Hi Robin - I write another series, called the Kate Conway Mysteries. Kate is a TV producer of true crime, based in part on my day job as a TV producer. As far as other hobbies... I like to go to art fairs as I love decorating my home with hand crafted items (You might notice a lot of artists pop up in my books) and I love to travel. Maybe someday I'll figure out a good mystery/ travel series! And of course, I love to read.

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    1. Hi Kathy-
      I just have all these stories in my head that I want to tell, so I think that's the reason I write. And now, of course, there are deadlines from my publisher and questions from readers about when the next book will be out, so that's pretty inspirational too!

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  28. Love your block. As for the discussion, if you are going to write a book about quilting without researching the subject, wouldn't it be easier for a writer to do the research on quilting the how and why. Oh maybe I should write a book and that could be my title. Can't wait to read your book.

    ncjeepster@aol.com

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    1. Hi Karen-
      I always think it's easier to write stuff you know, or at least pick a subject you want to know more about so the research will be fun. And I think you should write a book! It's a blast to write stories and inhabit worlds different from your own (and control what happens!)

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  29. Thanks to everyone who commented, asked a question or just stopped by to read the article. I'm thrilled to have been included in your book club. My 5th Someday Quilts Mystery, The Double Wedding Ring, will be released September 24th (and is available for pre-order now at amazon, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores.) Please email me at clare@clareodonohue.com if you have any additional questions or comments!

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