An Interview with Novelist Marie Bostwick 90


Marie Bostwick

Marie Bostwick


Marie Bostwick is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including A Single Thread, The Second Sister, Between Heaven and Texas, and most recently From Here to Home. Her novels feature creative, resilient women who face their problems with intelligence and humor, and who get by with a little help from their friends. Quilting is a central preoccupation with many of Marie’s characters, making her books especially dear to those of us who love a good novel and a good quilt with equal passion.

I interviewed Marie recently via email. In our exchange I discovered a delightful, funny and thoughtful woman (it’s always a treat when writers you love turn out to be nice people). I’m excited to give away a copy of her new book From Here to Home to one lucky reader. Leave a comment below by Friday, April 22nd, to have a chance to win.

For more about Marie, go to her website: http://www.mariebostwick.com/

 

Marie Bostwick's From Here to HomeFrances: Before we start talking about your marvelous new book, From Here to Home, I want to talk about your quilting. I’ve seen pictures of your quilts and they’re beautiful! How did you start quilting? What are your favorite kinds of quilts to make?

Marie: Well…I’d love to say it was because I had this deep, ineffable need to express myself creatively. The truth is I was walking by a quilt shop in a strip mall in Texas, saw they gave classes, and thought this would be a good way to get a break from my toddlers and engage in adult conversation while I still remembered how. (Bet I’m not the only one who can say that.)

The creativity part came later, when I found out how much I truly adored quilting. It brought me back to that creative part of me I’d given up on after getting a C on my wood sculpture in my fourth grade art class. I often say that I quilt because I don’t paint. (Bet I’m not the only one who can say that either.)

As far as a favorite kind of quilt; for a long time the answer to that question would have been traditional piecing. Now my favorite kind of quilting is whatever I’m working on at the moment. I set myself a goal to tackle a new technique every year or two. That’s opened up a lot of new avenues for me – applique, paper piecing, using made fabrics, learning to quilt my own tops instead of always relying on a longarmer. I’ve been more successful at mastering some techniques than others, but I’ve enjoyed it all.

Right now, I am all about crazy quilting. Perle cotton makes me go weak in the knees!

Frances: Are you a member of a quilt guild or any kind of quilting group? If so, talk about the ways these groups have been meaningful to you. What’s your favorite thing about being around other quilters?

Marie: My work and travel schedule is hectic and unpredictable so I haven’t been able to join a traditional guild. However, a few years back I started an online quilting group through my website. (That was back when websites still had forums – in the old days of ten years ago.) We started with about 25 people.

Now we have a Facebook group – Cobbled Court Quilt Circle Online – with about 1100 members. We do swaps, charity projects, post pictures of our quilts, share tips about tools and techniques, ask for advice about problems we’re having or what border looks best.

Even though it’s an online group, people make strong personal connections. Sometimes we meet in person too. Recently, I was in Washington DC so I asked if anybody from the area wanted to have a meetup. About 20 of us went to a quilting/mixed media shop in Alexandria, VA and had lunch afterward. It was great getting to talk face to face.

What I love about being around quilters is the way that it opens but avenues to meet and make friends with people I would never have known otherwise, people whose life experience or backgrounds are very different from mine. We begin with a love of quilting as common ground and, before long, we’re finding so much else we have in common.

Frances: You’re a novelist and a quilter. What kind of connections, if any, do you see between making quilts and writing novels?

Marie: Something I have discovered over the years is that artists of all stripes – from writers and composers, to sculptors and choreographers and, yes, quilters and fiber artists too – go through similar stages of the creative process.

It starts with an idea that seems very clear and very, very exciting. At this stage, you can’t wait to get to work. You’re sure you’re onto something brilliant, that you are brilliant!

About halfway in, you decide you are the opposite of brilliant. You wonder why you ever, ever thought this was a good idea. It’s just not turning out like you thought it would – not that you can really remember at this point. (By the way, when I’m writing, this feeling always hits me somewhere between pages 160 and 185. It’s eerily consistent.) You’ll be sorely tempted to give up and start something new. And it’s possible you will. But, if you don’t, you’re probably going back and doing some serious editing, ripping and re-sewing, or the like.

Then – assuming you didn’t give up – as you get toward the end, you start to become excited again. Your project might not have turned out exactly like you envisioned but there are some very good, and surprising, things about it. You’re pleased with the effort, eager to show it to others. You realize that you learned a lot in the process and are starting to think about how you can apply that to your next project. You get excited all over again.

Now, because quilting is my hobby as opposed to my profession, the emotional swings I experience in quilting aren’t as dramatic, but it’s definitely that same creative roller coaster ride. I think this is something just about every artist can relate to.

Frances: In From Here to Home, we return to the tiny Texas town of Too Much and what remains of the Templeton clan. The last time we saw Mary Dell and company, in the final pages of Between Heaven and Texas, it was 1984 and all kind of exciting things were just getting started—Mary Dell’s quilt shop, The Patchwork Palace, the romance between Lydia Dale and Graydon, etc. From Here to Home is set in the present day, which is to say some thirty years later. Why did you make the choice to jump so far ahead in time? And do you think you’ll ever go back and write about the years you leapt over?

Marie: Originally, I did plan for three “Too Much, Texas” books. But when I started to sit down and plot out the middle bit, I realized that the things that happened as Mary Dell built her business and life just weren’t as momentous as what happened later.

A good story requires drama, a seemingly insurmountable problem to be faced. That’s what I was able to give readers in From Here to Home that I wouldn’t have been able to supply in a book focused on the middle years of Mary Dell and Howard’s lives. It’s a plot that keeps you turning pages.

Frances: Mary Dell is just fabulous—she’s the best friend we all wish we had. One of my favorite things about her is that she’s so down to earth and yet larger (and gaudier) than life when it comes to clothes. What do you think this dichotomy says about who Mary Dell is? How fun is it to come up with her wardrobe choices? Do you make it all up, or are her outfits inspired by someone you know in real life?

Marie: You really hit upon something here that is important. Mary Dell’s wardrobe choices are very gaudy – she never met an animal print she didn’t love and one of her favorite sayings is, “more red is more better.” But there’s a reason for that quality that goes far beyond a quirky character trait.

The thing about Mary Dell is this: she knows she has no taste, she even jokes about having, “no more taste than a hothouse tomato”. But, guess what? She doesn’t care. She likes what she likes and she is who she is. She makes no apologies for it. That’s what I absolutely love about Mary Dell. She’s not proud but she is confident, comfortable in her own skin. I think that’s what readers like about her too.

Her wardrobe is really all of my own invention – I just sit there and try to think of the loudest, craziest combinations of colors and patterns I can come up and go with that. Yes, it’s a lot of fun.

Frances: I love Howard! I love that he’s a real (if made-up) person, not just a stick figure with Downs. But I’m curious—was it hard to get inside the head the character of a young man with an intellectual disability? And speaking of getting into men’s minds, how did you go about creating Rob Lee, who’s returned from Afghanistan with PTSD?

Marie: Thanks! I love Howard too.

You know, it really wasn’t hard at all to get in Howard’s head. Cognitive challenges or not, people are people. We want the same things – love, acceptance, happiness in our relationships, satisfaction in our work, a chance to prove ourselves. At this stage of his life, Howard wants to be independent, to go out into the world and test himself, to have control over his choices. I have three grown sons and watched them all go through that same stage of life – perhaps at a younger chronological age than Howard – but the desire was the same.

Learning about PTSD was more challenging. I read many books on the subject. The ones that contained first person narratives from people who had suffered through it, and also from the family members who were walking alongside them, were crucial in helping me get that portion of the story right.

Frances: What’s the hardest thing about writing a series? What’s your favorite thing?

Marie: First off, let me say that I’ve never written a series by planning to do it. What happens is that I finish a book and find that I want to know more about the main character, or I realize that a secondary character has a story of they want to tell.

Part of the reason I never plan to write one is that it is just really hard to do. You’ve got to figure out a way to make the story, setting, and characters seem fresh to people who read the previous books and, at the same time, you have to make sure that you cover enough of the older story so new readers won’t feel like they came in at the middle of the movie. It’s a tricky balance to strike.

However, the part I do like about writing a series is the sense that you’re getting to visit with an old friend, someone you’ve missed talking with. From the letters I get, I know that is what readers like about reading a series as well.

Frances: I know you’re working on something now. Are you the kind of writer who resists talking about her current project or can you tell us a little of what it’s about? If you don’t want to spill the beans just yet, can you tell us when we can expect to see a new book in the stores?

Marie: I really don’t like to talk about a book until I’m finished with it. However, I can tell you that my next book is set in Seattle, involves three sisters who are failed artistic prodigies. One of them is a part time mermaid. As you can imagine, I’m having a lot of fun with that.

Frances: What’s your big quilting dream that may never come true, but is fun to think about (owning your own quilt shop, spending your retirement years taking quilting cruises)? Do you have any special hopes for your writing career?

Marie: My quilting fantasy involves making a Baltimore album quilt – by hand – and doing it well. This doesn’t really seem like something that will ever happen though; my needle turn applique skills are less than stellar. And where would I ever find the time? But it is nice to think about.

As far as writing, I’d like to live long enough to write 50 full-length novels. I’ve got 38 to go.

I’d like to do that well, too. Really well.

***

Remember, leave a comment by Friday, April 22, 2016, and you’ll be automatically entered into the drawing for Marie’s new book, From Here to Home! Please make sure to leave contact info. Thanks!


Marie’s Books on Amazon

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90 thoughts on “An Interview with Novelist Marie Bostwick

  • Quiltin Jenny

    How have I missed these books? I have to go back and start from the first one. Marie sounds like a lot of fun, and I can definitely relate to the quilting classes as a means to escape toddlers!

  • Denise Zapf

    Frances, thanks for doing this interview. I have never read any of Marie’s books, but after this interview I am interested in trying them.

  • Carol

    Thank you for a delightful interview. I really enjoyed the Cobbled Court series and wish Marie would continue it with another book.

  • Wendy Murphy

    I have to agree with you Frances, it is really awesome “when writers you love turn out to be nice people”. I liked Marie so much the first time I met her, that I dragged my sister to meet her the next time. Well, I didn’t really DRAG her! But I witnessed something at the second signing I attended that cemented in me that Marie was “good people”. And her books are full of “good people”, in the struggles of everyday life. And they are inspiring. I am not a quilter, never learned to sew, but have always loved quilts, and stories involving quilts and quilters. I started out reading a lot of Amish fiction, and then I found ‘A Single Thread’, and I couldn’t put it down. When I found out there were more books in the series I was delighted, the only problem is, I can read faster than Marie can write! That’s OK though, the books are ALWAYS worth the wait.

  • Pauline

    Wonderful interview! Thank you. I love Marie’s books. I look forward to reading From Here to Home. It’s great to know that once she finishes a book, she is already thinking and planning her next book. It’s something for me as a reader to look forward to. P.S. I am a quilter, too.

  • Mary Anne Sopelak

    Hi Marie, I recently found you and your books… On the 3rd one… (in no particular order)… Just love them and your character development… Your new book is on my list next… getting to know more of Mary Dell!
    Used to a member of the Farmington Valley Quilters but have put quilting on hold as I have gotten into music… Smooth jazz.. Playing the saxophone in middle age!!!
    Thanks for all your updates on FB

    • Marie Bostwick

      Thanks, Mary Anne. I LOVE that you’re playing sax! As soon as I finish my move to Oregon (and my next book) I plan to start spending time with my poor, neglected piano.

  • Joni

    I’ve read all of Marie’s books from the beginning & I just Love Mary Dell!!I just finished from “Here to home” by audio (my new way of reading).
    Last year I got to meet Marie not once but twice – she’s simply put a class act person. So real and down to earth, her wit is so her!

  • Maryellen McAuliffe

    I love Marie’s books. All of the characters are so real, and the stories are great. Thanks for sharing the interview. And, yes, Marie is a doll in person, too.

  • Colleen

    What a great interview! I’ve read all of Marie’s quilty books except this last one. Her characters are very “real”.
    Thanks!

  • Linda Martindale

    I am a member of Marie’s CCQC on line, and I am amazed to still find out new things about Marie from this interview. But what I love most of all, is how down to earth Marie really is! She is just like all the rest of us to some degree, but also has a talent for writing wonderful books. I share her love of quilting and I truly hope she will be able to make that goal of writing another 38 full length novels, and that I am still around to read them all!

  • Margaret Gumbs

    It was so wonderful to hear how she began quilting. I have heard her speak about her writing journey before, but not as much about where her love of quilting comes from.

  • Lani Wolf

    Thanks very much for sharing your interview. I am an avid reader and quilter but I haven’t heard of Marie Bostwick before. Makes me want to read her books!

  • Suzanne Herrin

    The questions and answers were fabulous. The interview was like a good book that you don’t want to end. Thanks, Frances.

  • Gayle Allen-Grier

    I have enjoyed all of Marie’s novels and look forward to reading the next one!!

    Gayle

    aquiltersplayhouse at gmail dot com

  • Mary Rogers

    Very nice interview. I would love to so this book as I am looking for new authors and have not read any of her books.
    Thanks

  • Lizzie

    I’m so impressed with you two writers – and quilters. I dabble in both enough to recognize quality when I see/read it. Thanks for everything you share.

  • Cindy Smith

    Going through my Feedly post and saw your post about an interview with Marie. My intention was to save for later but when I read the first few lines, I was in and couldn’t stop. Great format and conversations!

  • Kristin

    I have read every one of Marie’s books and loved every one of them! Thanks for a great interview, I learned a lot. It’s so fun to have a “sneak peek” into her process and quilting. I’m off to put her new book on my wish list!

  • Lorene Beach

    Great interview with one my favorite authors! I’m a quilter, but a lot of my quilts live in my head, so we may have something in common.

  • Sandy A in St. Louis

    I love Marie’s books and have had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing. She is just like you said- funny, delightful and all-around creative soul. Thank you for the interview and the chance to win her new book!

  • Janet Eidem

    What a wonderful interview this is! There are not many writers who allow their personal thoughts, lives, processes be out there in the public domain. I can’t wait to read about the Mary Dell of the now, and Howard too. Love these people!!!

  • Anita Balgenorth

    I have read all of Marie’s books and look forward to each new one. I also enjoy following her on FB – she is so much fun! I am a quilter, so that theme resonates with me.Marie’s characters seem real to me and I can relate to many of them.

  • Lorraine Provine

    I just finished reading “From Here to Home”. As I neared the end, I found myself feeling sad that my journey with my new found friends in Too Much was coming to an end. Of course, I had already met some of them in “Between Heaven and Texas”. I also love the Cobbled Quilt series and learning about all of the quilters. Great books!

  • Karen

    I am so looking forward to reading “From Here to Home”. I have been a fan of Marie’s since discovering her Cobbled Quilt series…I’ve read them all!

    I enjoyed this interview…I’m excited to learn about the book-in-progress. Hopefully another series!

  • Dawn Addesa

    I love Marie and her books! I really appreciate the fact that she would let us know where she’s going to be (D.C.) and invite those of us in the area to join her for lunch. I wish I could have gone! She always brings her characters to life which is a true gift.

  • Darlene Bulthuis

    I absolutely love Marie’s books! I borrowed “A Single Thread” from the library. I loved it so much that I bought 2 copies and lent them to all my friends! Always love when a new book is coming out, so I would love to win a copy of this new one!

  • Susan L Parrish

    I love all of your books . I get them read way to fast and then can’t wait for the next one tof come out. Keep up the great work!!!!

  • Kathy Stonebarger

    I stumbled upon your books by chance. I do love the sewing references and the honest story being told. Now I just need to go back and find all the previous ones. Thank you.

  • Kathleen Bell

    I have heard Marie speak at a local bookstore. She is even better in person! What a delight. Her books are enjoyable to read and always contain some small life lessons.

  • C Joanne Grabinski

    Thank you for the interesting interview–both from the interviewer and the interviewee! I loved the new book, Marie, and look forward to whatever book you come up with next and I don’t need it to be another one in either series. You bring your characters to me in such fascinating ways and I keep learning from them and from you. Best wishes on your move home to our home state of Oregon! I still hope our paths will cross in real space and time!

  • Margaretk

    Thanks for the fun interview. I have not read any of her books, but I will look for them at my library. Three sisters and a mermaid in Seattle sounds particularly intriguing, but I guess I will have to wait for that one.

  • Leanne Anderson

    Haven’t read her books yet but will be buying /reading one soon. I love to read and quilt. It seems like a common love for a lot of us.

  • Janie O

    I have recently discovered these books and love them. It’s exciting reading about a passion – quilting – and the stories around quilts. Keep these book coming!

  • Denise Nerenhausen

    Can’t wait to read the new book. I also quilt and I am glad one of my favorite writers does too. I feel like we understand each other and we could be great friends.

  • Verna McNabb

    I was just introduced to your books and am halfway through the Cobbled Court Series. As an avid quilter I love reading these stories and also love how you thread Christian themes throughout the characters in a way that is not sappy and captures the essence of true Christianity. I an not an easy “cryer”‘ but I do get choked up occasionally when reading these books. Thanks for the series. I will definite read all your books and recommend them to my friends. Best wishes.

  • Paula

    I really enjoy Marie Bostwick’s books! I had read all of them at one point, but I think I’m 1-2 behind now. It would be fun to win the newest one! I’ll catch up soon either way! And I’m looking forward to your new quilt-themed book, Frances!

  • Sherri D

    As Frances knows, I can get horribly behind in listening to her podcasts! I eventually, get around to listening to them though. Last week I listened to the podcast where she mentioned interviewing Marie and my ears really perked up! You see, several years ago, I actually had a change to MEET MARIE IN PERSON!!! But I didn’t. Why? Because I was too shy.

    Marie is a most generous woman with her time. She was actually willing to meet up with me in person! We had previously corresponded via email few times and when one of her book tours brought her to my city, I could have gone to meet her but just was too shy. I made some lame excuse as to why I couldn’t get away to meet up that night. We did visit on the phone a bit though. I will always regret not having gone to see her or gone to the book signing. I think I was a little intimidated at the thought of meeting this big time famous author. That is what was going on in my brain anyway. Silly me!

    I am SO glad I listened to Frances’ podcast last week. I just made it under the wire to try to win Marie’s book! Thank you both to Marie and Frances for such a wonderful prize. Marie, thank you for writing more books. I love your style of writing and have enjoyed your books, immensely.
    And Frances, this is something you can tell your podcast listeners…that they should not put off listening to your podcasts or they might miss out on really cool stuff! (along with all the other really cool stuff you talk about too) 😀

  • Amy Pinkelman

    I know that I am too late for the contest entry… but still wanted to thank you both on a very interesting interview and look into the life of Marie.

    Thanks again,
    amy

  • Kati R.

    I guess I missed the boat on this one, what a bummer! That’s what one who listenes a month later gets… I will read the interview after I read the book, it’s so much more interesting that way. Thank you for taking the time, I love her books!