Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Interview with Earlene Fowler, Author of State Fair: a Benni Harper Mystery, Part II

State Fair Sunflower Quilt Block
In the Quilters' Book Club this month, we're reading State Fair by Earlene Fowler.  I thought it would be fun to learn a bit about this author of quilt mysteries that feature Benni Harper.  On Earlene's website, I found an interview that was taken from the Berkley Prime Crime website.  The beginning of the interview can be found here.  Here is the rest of the interview.  Enjoy!  
 What is it about Benni Harper that people relate to?
I think she's a pretty understanding person and is anxious to give others the benefit of the doubt. She believes in grace and tries to give it to others. She looks at more than just a person's outside appearance or actions and tries to figure out the person they are underneath. She can be stubborn, which I think a lot of people relate to. And she can also be a little spoiled, or maybe sheltered is a better word. She hasn't seen much of the world outside of the small town she grew up in so sometimes has an overly optimistic view of life that people from larger cities can find irritating. She has not seen the true evil that Gabe has, and she is sometimes too naïve. That's why she can't always understand Gabe's protective instincts toward her. Being married to Gabe has matured her. She's a much different person in the twelfth book than she was in the first, more mature, though she is still much more innocent than Gabe. Being married to her is a good thing for Gabe because I think he is too cynical, has seen too much of the harsh and ugly side of humans. They balance each other. Each has changed the other in a constructive and loving way.

What part of researching a book do you especially enjoy?
First, I only write about things I like, so I enjoy all of it! That's something I make a point to tell new writers. This isn't school, writing a novel isn't a term paper. You get to write about whatever you want! So, first I read everything I can on a subject, which is not like work at all to me. For example, when I wrote KANSAS TROUBLES, my third book, part of the plot had to do with the Amish. I bought and read every book I could track down, but I only used about 1/20th of what I learned. I sure enjoyed the research, though. I love the travel my writing allows me to do, as well as interesting experiences I would probably not have had otherwise, such as ride-alongs with police officers, riding fence lines with ranchers, going to a dude ranch, touring the stables at a horse racing track, even having a Catholic lay minister walk me through giving confession so I could write about Gabe's experience. For DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS, I watched a children's play being produced from tryouts through the final performance. I was only able to use a fraction of what I saw, but I was sure impressed with the director, as well as the kids. Writing has enlarged my life in so many ways, much in the same way reading always has.

What aspects of your personality are especially suited to being a writer?
Though it's hard for people who meet me (or even some who know me well), I love being alone more than anything in the world. It was even hard for me to get a dog, as strange as that sounds. I've always been a bit of a loner, though I appear to be an outgoing person. I grew up in a big family so I've learned to be around people and I've worked at many jobs that dealt with the public, but being alone in my fictional worlds has always been how I preferred to spend my time. I actually start to get jittery and cranky if I don't have enough alone time. I need that time to write. To write, you really need to like being alone. Lucky for me, my husband understands because he's a bit of a loner too. We're perfectly matched.

Do you consider yourself a loner like Earlene or an outgoing person?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Answer in the comment section below.  If you are reading via email, you must first click on the blog title to be able to comment and read the comments of others.  By commenting, you are entering your name in a giveaway for a $20 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop!  The more times you comment throughout the month, the greater your chances of winning!  A big thank you to Fat Quarter Shop for this wonderful giveaway!

If you'd like to make the State Fair Sunflower quilt block shown above, I found the pattern in the book Kansas Spirit: 15 Historical Quilt Blocks and the Saga of the Sunflower State by Jeanne Poore.  This block is also very similar to part of a block pattern found here.

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.


  1. I would say I'm an introvert, but not quite a loner. I like to be with people, but then I need time alone afterwards.

  2. I have thought often about that and I still wonder. Living in a foreign country with poor language skills, I spend most of my time alone. I am never really lonely because I am good at entertaining myself. I do enjoy meeting people, singing in the choir, and working with Scouts and Scouters, but I actually have few real friends ...other than my kids, who really know me well.

  3. I hadn't thought about that until recently and the subject came up in another context. But after some introspection I think I am a bit of a loner. I like people and belong to several organizations and volunteer my time, but I really would prefer to spend my time alone. I don't think it is healthy for me, though, so I do kind of force myself to go out and about. I wish I had some writing ability, because I would enjoy all the aspects of it, particularly the research. I love researching random things.

  4. I like being around people, but I definitely need my alone time so that I can breathe.

  5. I think I am a loner--enjoy sewing. I am part of several groups that meet monthly but spend most of my time alone. I rather enjoy this time. I listen to books while I sew.
    I definite am not a social animal!!!

  6. I am a loner, too. I love being in my sewing room, listening to classical music, sewing or reading or just being there. I must be like my dad who also didn't mind being alone for so many years after my mother passed. I know I get cranky when I don't have "down" time. I raised 5 children and probably that is a major reason that I love "alone"!

  7. I have my days that I'd rather be alone, but, usually, I'm an outgoing person. Everyone needs alone time.

  8. I like being with others and I like being alone.

  9. I do like my alone time but not too much of it. I don't consider myself to be particularly outgoing. Rather than approach people I develop friendships over time once I've become acquainted with them.


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