Friday, May 10, 2013

Author Sally Goldenbaum Talks Writing & Knitting

It is a pleasure for me to welcome author Sally Goldenbaum here today
to talk about the latest installment in her Seaside Knitters Mystery Series, ANGORA ALIBI.

Sally’s books are filled with friendship, fun, community, a little knitting and always an intriguing murder or two.

Here’s a synopsis of her latest release, ANGORA ALIBI:

    It’s an exciting time for yarn shop owner Izzy Chambers Perry; she and Sam are expecting a baby and all of Sea Harbor is rejoicing with them. But the happy, expectant time takes a turn when Izzy jogs by an abandoned infant car seat on Paley’s Cove—without a mother or baby in sight.
    About the same time, tensions develop in her obstetrician’s office, and when a young man—seemingly connected to the abandoned car seat—is murdered during a scuba dive, the peaceful preparations for Izzy’s impending birth fall by the wayside. Together, the seaside knitters begin uncovering secrets and deceits clouding the days, secrets that are right there in front of them—yet hidden from sight.
     It takes the Seaside Knitters’ careful attention to patterns—and their fierce commitment to having Izzy and Sam’s baby born into a peaceful world—to uncover the dangers lurking in their town and to bring the murderer to justice.

Sally has graciously answered some questions for me about her writing and this fascinating book.

Mason - How did you come to write a series about knitting, a seaside community and mystery?
I knew a few things about the series I wanted to write (knitting wasn’t one of them!). I wanted to write a series that explored women’s friendship and small-town living, and I wanted to do it within the mystery genre. Using knitting as an anchor—something to bring the four main women together- was suggested to me by my agent. And it was perfect for a couple of reasons. For one, my first grandson was about to be born—and knitting and grandchildren seemed a perfect match. Secondly, yarn is such a sensual material and lends itself to all sorts of emotions, I think. And lastly, knitting, patterns, pulling out mistakes and starting over, seemed like perfect metaphors for solving a mystery. It all fit, and the Seaside Knitters mystery series was born!

As for the seaside community, that’s a great question. How does an author from land-locked Kansas presume to write about a seaside town? Once again, we go back to that unborn grandson (now seven!). He happens to live on Cape Ann, north of Boston, where my fictitious town of Sea Harbor is situated. I spend as much time as I can on Cape Ann (now there are TWO grandchildren there). The sea, lobsters, fishing, sailing and salt air are as much a part of me now as the plains of Kansas or the shores of Lake Michigan (where I grew up). I love being there, both in my books and in person.

And pouring all these things into a mystery was simply meant to be. Before the seaside knitters, I had written a three-book mystery series focusing on a group of women who quilted together, and I never really thought of doing anything else. I have loved reading mysteries all my life, and writing them is pure pleasure.

Mason - Could you tell us something about Izzy and Sam that we wouldn’t find in your books?
Although this is mentioned briefly in one of the early books, many readers probably won’t remember it. Izzy was a Boston lawyer before she became a yarn shop owner. Although she was good at what she did, being a lawyer was more her father’s dream than her own. And one day, after a successful court case, Izzy left the law forever.

That day she defended a young man, not much older than her AngoraAlibicoverbrother Jack, who had been accused for the third time of armed robbery. Through keen reasoning and logic, Izzy convinced the judge that her client was innocent and he got his life back. He hugged Izzy tightly as the television cameras dutifully recorded the embrace for the six o’clock news. But a short while later the newly freed man quietly held up a deli and shot the owner and his daughter dead. 

Sam has some secrets in his background that even I don’t know about yet. I’m waiting for him to tell me. He was an orphan, raised by a nice family in western Kansas. Before he proposed to Izzy, he went on a search for his past, but we don’t yet know all that he found. I will let you know when I find out!

Mason - With the book’s release, as you look back what was the biggest surprise that occurred in writing this story?
I love this question and it shows I am talking with a fellow writer! Characters DO surprise us as they lead us through the story—and thank heavens they do, because I don’t always know what’s going to happen in the next chapter, sometimes on the next page. In ANGORA ALIBI I was very surprised when a second person was murdered—someone I’d come to like. And I was also surprised by the role this victim’s dog played in solving the crime.

Mason - What would you say to someone who says they don’t knit so they’ve never tried your books?
I’d say, “Please give them a try! The knitting shop provides an anchor, a focus, a place for Nell, Izzy, Cass, and Birdie to be. But the mysteries are about relationships, life in a small seaside town, and the motivations of ordinary people like you and me who sometimes resort to committing terrible crimes. 

Knitting provides wonderful metaphors for the careful way the seaside knitters piece together the pieces of a puzzle. You won’t learn to knit from reading the seaside knitting mystery series, although you MAY find yourself wandering through a yarn shop and sinking your fingers into baskets of luscious wool and cashmere and baby-fine cotton yarn.   

Mason - I have to ask about the book’s cover. How much, if any, input do you have in the book covers?
First, I feel very fortunate because NAL has used the same talented artist for every Seaside Knitters Mysteries cover and I love them. When the publisher is ready for a cover meeting, my editor asks me what scenes in the book might lend themselves to cover art. The marketing/sales team also gives input, knowing better than I do to which covers readers will be attracted. Once the artist does his first sketch, I’m sent a copy for review. Since we talk about it ahead of time, the cover is never a surprise, but there are always small things the editor, marketing people, my agent, and I suggest. And the artist in his magic way makes it work.

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

Next is Seaside Knitters Mystery #8. Not a very sexy title, but hopefully another one will be whispered in my ear by Nell, Birdie, Cass, or Izzy (Or perhaps by my editor or agent or a helpful friend or reader!). It will be released in May of 2013. 

My thanks to Mason for inviting me to Thoughts in Progress. I’ve enjoyed being here.

Sally, thank you for visiting with us. It was fun learning how the various elements (knitting, seaside, mystery) came together to form this delightful series.

For those who may not be familiar with Sally, she is a sometimes philosophy teacher, a knitter, an editor, and author of thirty-five novels, most currently the Seaside Knitters Mystery Series, set in a seaside town on Cape Ann, MA. 

Sally also wrote the Queen Bees Quilters Mystery Series. She lives in Prairie Village, Kansas, but visits Cape Ann, the geographic inspiration for her series (and home of two amazing grandchildren) every chance she gets.

For more on Sally and her writing, visit her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

To purchase books in the series:
ANGORA ALIBI and all the Seaside Knitters mysteries are available in bookstores everywhere. They are also available online in both print and eBook format.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Would not being a knitter keep you from reading a book that used knitting as a theme?


  1. I am not a knitter and I still have bought this series. To me it is the story with the mystery and the characters that draw me in not just the knitting. I like reading about it but just don't do it.

    1. Angela, I agree about the mystery and the characters - they do draw you in. I think of the knitting as just an added bonus.

  2. Sally, thanks for joining us and sharing a look behind the scenes. I can't knit very well but your books always make me want to visit a yarn store. Wishing you much success.

    1. Thank you, Mason--and you, too, Angela. And the comments were most welcome because that's how I think of the knitting too. A great element to bring the friends together--and a beautiful one! But not the whole enchilada....

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Sally.

    Sally - I really like the idea of exploring larger issues such as friendships, community and so on through the lens of crime fiction. It allows the author to focus on the mystery and still weave - oh, sorry, knit - those other themes into the story. And I don't blame you for choosing the seaside. It's got real drawing power as a setting. I wish you much success.

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Margot. And also for your kind wishes. I wish you a happy May!

  5. If the mystery is good and keeps me entertained, it doesn't matter what the craft is. I do like that I can pick up some of the jargon when reading books that have craft in them.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.