Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Author Molly MacRae: Changes In Bookstores

Everyone knows I enjoy finding new authors and new series that highlight different themes. This month author Molly MacRae debuted with a new cozy murder mystery series featuring a haunted yarn shop in LAST WOOL AND TESTAMENT, a combination I couldn’t resist.

Molly spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town. 

Molly has graciously answered several questions for me about her new series and her writing.

Mason - You managed an independent bookstore, The Book Place, for a good many years. What are some of the major changes you saw take place over the years?

Molly - Thanks for having me here, and thanks for asking about The Book Place. May I describe it and tell a story first? It was a combination new and used bookstore in a partitioned-off area of an old grocery store in Johnson City, Tennessee. It was the latest and last iteration of a bookstore that was around for about seventy five years. It wasn’t elegant, but it was beloved, and people cried when it closed in 1999.

One year we entered a nationwide window-dressing contest put on by Penguin Books – design a window around the Redwall books by Brian Jacques and win a visit from the author! I asked half a dozen neighborhood kids, who loved the Redwall books, to come in and help. They built an entire abbey out of cardboard and clay in our front window, complete with moles, mice, and squirrels having a Redwall feast. The kids didn’t care if we won or not, they had a great time. The cool thing, though, is that we did win. Brian Jacques came and spent an afternoon with us. It’s an experience the kids never forgot. Two of them went on to become librarians. 

What major changes did I see over the years? Wow. The internet barely existed. E-books were only an exotic whisper. We searched for out-of-print and rare books for our customers through a journal called AB Bookman’s Weekly and by corresponding with other booksellers through the mail. Many businesses didn’t have computers (we had two!) and most had no idea what they would do with a business website if they had one. We didn’t have a website. We didn’t have an email account. There were no big box stores in our town. Amazon didn’t exist. And then . . . the world revved up. 

I just made myself sound like a creaky, two-hundred-year-old bookseller, didn’t I? Nah, we live in exciting times.
Mason - Did this experience aide or hamper your writing?

book coverMolly - Both. Before I took the job, a couple of my stories had been published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine – about Margaret Welch who owns a bookstore very much like The Book Place, in a town suspiciously like Johnson City. I’d only imagined Margaret’s bookstore, though, so working at The Book Place was great – like doing field research. Unfortunately, working more than fulltime hours while raising a family meant something had to give and that was the writing. But the job gave me years of material. I took notes.

Mason - Have you ever owned or managed a yarn shop?

Molly - No. I also don’t knit particularly well. But my grandmother owned a yarn shop called The Little Wool Shop and all my female relatives knit so I’m channeling them. And taking notes. 

Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?

Molly - The second book in the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries, DYEING WISHES will be out next summer. In it you’ll find sheep, dyeing, dying, a potluck, and the ghost. And sometime this fall my first two mysteries, WILDER RUMORS and LAWN ORDER, both originally published by Five Star/Cengage, will be available as e-books, as will MY TROUBLE, a collection of nine Margaret & Bitsy mystery shorts, most of which first appeared in Hitchcock.  

Molly, thanks so much for visiting today and giving us a look at your background. The Book Place sounds like a wonderful store and I’m sorry places like that no longer exist for children (and adults) to enjoy. It sounds as though it gave you a great wealth of knowledge to use in your books.

Molly lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library. For more on Molly and her writing, visit her website at

LAST WOOL AND TESTAMENT is the first installment in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series and a delightful read you won’t be able to put down.

Kath Rutledge returns to the small town of Blue Plum, Tennessee, for her grandmother’s burial. What she finds is one surprise after another. Fortunately she discovers TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber) a spunky group of fiber and needlework artists founded by her beloved grandmother, Ivy McClellan. The ladies continue to meet regularly at Ivy’s fabric and fiber shop, The Weaver’s Cat, which Kath has now inherited.

Kath also discovers her grandmother was the prime suspect in a recent murder. As she tries to clear her grandmother’s name, Kath encounters a gloomy ghost. With the help of the ghost and the ladies of TGIF, Kath is determined to find the real killer before anything else unravels.

The author has created a cast of lovable characters that will have you laughing out-loud. There’s a good mix of murder, mystery, mayhem, romance and humor all rolled into a delightful yarn with a touch of paranormal. Molly has captured the essence of a small town and the friendships that thrive there. The characters are well-developed and the story flows at a steady pace keeping you guessing until the end.

A book about a haunted yarn shop, murder, mystery and mayhem, what could be more entertaining? Does a book with a theme such as this (yarn shop) make you a little itchy to dabble in the craft of knitting or crocheting? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Remember, share a book. 

*FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. 
Last Wool And Testament by Molly MacRae, A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery, Obsidian, @2012, ISBN: 978-0451237828, Paperback, 352 Pages


  1. This sounds like a fun book. Thanks, Mason, for giving us a chance to meet Molly.

  2. Molly, thanks again for visiting today. Your new series is a fun read and I am so looking forward to Kath's next adventure. Wishing you much success.

    Linda, thanks for stopping in to meet Molly. It is a fun book.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Molly.

    Molly - Thanks for sharing your bookshop experience - really interesting! I appreciate your perspective on some of the changes we've seen over the years. I wish you much success.

  4. Mason, thanks for having me here and thanks for your kind words about the book. I never knew it would be so much fun to have a ghost as a character. She keeps me guessing! LD and Margot, thanks for stopping by.


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