Our guest today is Carola Dunn, author of 20 Daisy Dalrymple
mysteries (England 1920s), 3 Cornish Mysteries (Cornwall, c. 1970), and 32
Regencies (all over the world, early 1800s). She was born and grew up in
England and has lived in the US for more decades than she cares to count,
presently in Oregon, where her dog, Trillian, walks her by the Willamette River
daily (not including the past few weeks as during their last walk Carola
carelessly managed to break four bones in her foot.) Read more about Carola at
her website. – AP
I must apologize to devoted
readers of Lois's blog. It is crafty and I am not. Nor are most of the
characters in my mysteries (not in that sense, at least).
I used to knit, decorate
stuff with shells, make mobiles, even paint a little (my painting is definitely craft not art). I've
been taught to crochet at least three times but it never stuck.
Looking back, I think I
stopped crafting when I ceased to own a TV. It's great to create things when
you can watch at the same time, but I spend that time reading, and it just
doesn't combine well. Or maybe when I started writing full-time, all my
creativity was channeled into that.
Having confessed my craftlessness,
I now recall that my first Cornish mystery, Manna from Hades,
begins with some knittery. My protagonist, Eleanor Trewynn, is collecting
donations for her charity shop:
in several frogs, Mrs Trewynn," said Miss Annabel Willis anxiously. "You
did say they were well received?"
"Very well indeed, Miss Annabel.
They sold in no time. My thanks to both of you for your hard work and
generosity." Eleanor lifted the big cardboard box, whose faint, sweet
fragrance bore out the logo on its sides: Co-op Tea. It was more awkward than
"It's a pleasure to do what little we can to
help," the elder Miss Willis assured her from her wheelchair, her knitting
needles clicking away tirelessly, producing yet another green and yellow frog.
Later, when the Detective
Inspector is looking for evidence in the shop:
Scumble stood glowering at a bin of colourful woolly
animals. A grass-green, yellow-bellied, goggle-eyed frog grinned back at him.
Eleanor's next-door neighbour, Nick, paints, but he's an artist, not a
crafter. However, when he's suspected of murder in the second book, A Colourful Death, in seeking to
clear him Eleanor spends a night
at an artists' commune. Some of the residents are crafters, a potter, a
knitter, a shell-worker, all on a commercial scale.
The nearest anyone gets to crafting in the third of the series, The Valley of the Shadow, is a
bit of prospective sanding and polishing. A farmer donates an ancient wooden
cart-wheel, and Eleanor knows someone will buy it for a decoration once her
friend Jocelyn, the vicar's wife, has cleaned it up.
I seem to remember an occasional character knitting in the twenty Daisy
Dalrymple mysteries, too. It was quite a fashionable occupation in England in
All in all, my books are not quite so devoid of handicrafts as I thought
when I embarked on this essay. And I promise I'll have another go at making
things when I retire from writing—if that ever comes to pass.
“The sights and sounds of
the coast of Cornwall come alive in The
Valley of the Shadow. The rescue of a drowning Indian man leads to a
race against time to rescue his family, trapped in the smugglers’ caves on the
rocky shore. Feisty retiree Eleanor Trewynn enlists her fellow villagers in
tracking down those responsible for abandoning the refugees — but will the
smugglers find her first? Dunn gives us a thoroughly enjoyable, cozy suspense
novel — one with a social conscience.” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books
& Music, Okemos, MI
joining us today, Carola, and we all wish you a speedy recovery from your
broken foot bones. -- AP