Q&A with needlework mystery writer Monica Ferris

Love to read AND stitch? Monica Ferris has the perfect page-turner to stroke those passions: "Blackwork" is the latest book from this popular fiction writer whose colorful story lines always feature needleworking super sleuths following mystery threads around stitchery shops. We have been delighted to be characters in previous books, and this one features a design using Kreinik threads—included a new Kreinik Fine #8 Braid color, Fly By Night. We sat down with Monica to hear about the latest book and her next project.

KREINIK: Where did you get the idea of the "Blackwork" story?

MONICA: This one started with the title. Blackwork is a very attractive kind of needlework. It took me a little while to think how best to use the title as a mystery theme, however. But I have two friends who practice Wicca, so I had two sources for the practices of that religion. I know there are people who think only of the "dark side" of Wicca -- that it practices cursing and other black arts, but neither of my Wiccan friends would dream of doing something so dreadful (and dangerous, they say). So there was my conflict, and the story grew out of that.

KREINIK: Your books are grounded in the needlework community and are very popular. How did you get involved with needlework? Where does your interest in needlework come from?

MONICA: Oddly enough, I was asked to write a series with needlework as a theme. My then-editor at Berkley was herself a counted cross-stitcher and saw how well a quilting series was doing, so she looked around for someone willing to write a needlework series. I had just ended my work on a medieval mystery series, so she contacted my agent who contacted me. I was so flattered at being asked -- instead of the usual process of coming up with an idea, writing the novel, and then getting my agent to try to find a publisher -- that I accepted at once. I was very much a novice at needlework, and so that's why my amateur sleuth starts out so ignorant. As I learn things, so does she. And now I find that I enjoy exploring the many, many sides of needlework.

KREINIK: Writers and needleworkers both create, putting together something out of scraps, bringing the fabric or page to life, with “threads” running through the "story". What is your favorite part about writing a book?

MONICA: That's a very difficult question. When things are working, it's all a joy: Getting the idea, setting up the plot, watching the story come to life as I write it, finishing it (whew!), editing it, getting a sample of the cover art (that's when it becomes real), holding the copy of the actual book in my hands. Every one of those steps is a pleasure! The only part that isn't fun is getting a writer's block, and I can generally work around that.

KREINIK: What is the hardest part about writing a book?

MONICA: The middle. The opening scenes are intriguing and the grand finale is exciting, but there's that long, complicated middle part, where I'm trying to get all the scenes to work together, sneak in the clues, advance the characters realistically, and move the story briskly along. It's fun, usually, but it's real work.

KREINIK: Technology has affected both the needlework industry and the book industry. With the advent of electronic readers, do you think that printed books will become obsolete? Will your books be available for Kindles or other e-book readers?

MONICA: Some of my books are already available in an electronic format. I don't think paper books will entirely disappear -- they are, unlike electronic devices, not made unreadable when the science advances to a new generation of device -- but I think publishing is riding a new and powerful wave into the future. I don't think anyone really knows what strange and new shore they will end up on.

KREINIK: Can you give us a hint for what's in store for the next book, and when it may be released?

MONICA: The next book, due out in December, is Buttons and Bones. Jill and Lars Larson buy an old log cabin up in a northern part of the state, and while renovating it, find a hidden trap door leading to a root cellar. On the dirt floor of it lies a human skeleton that appears to belong to a World War II-era German soldier. Meanwhile I am at work on Threadbare, about the murder of two homeless women.


WANT MORE MONICA FERRIS? She shares a blog with five other "crafty" mystery authors -- http://killerhobbies.blogspot.com/. Her day to write an entry is every Wednesday. Check out Monica's web site at http://monica-ferris.com/ for info on all of her books plus her schedule of book signings.

WANT TO STITCH THE DESIGN FROM THE BOOK? Visit http://www.kreinik.com/kshop/product.php?productid=17134&cat=0&page=1

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