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Monday, August 6, 2012


Cozy mystery author and quilter Annette Mahon joins us today. Annette is a former librarian and native of Hilo, Hawaii, now living in Arizona, where she writes cozy Southwestern mysteries, with quilts and quilters, and sweet Hawaiian romances--some of them with quilts and quilters. Learn more about Annette at her website. 

Annette is offering advanced reading copies
of St. Rose Goes Hawaiian to two of our readers. To enter the drawing, post a comment to the blog. And don't forget to check back on Sunday to learn if you're the winner. -- AP
In the Black at the Pink Plumeria

As a quilter, I love putting quilts into my books, which means I want to make the quilts my characters make. I actually have a collection of wall hangings I call the “book quilts.” It all began with my fist romance, Above the Rainbow, when I made one of the quilts described in the book, one called In the Black at the Pink Plumeria. The quilt store owner heroine made it to celebrate her store’s success, but I do want to comment that black fabric is not usually used in Hawaiian quilts. However, it is one of my favorite quilts and was used for the cover design of St. Rose Goes Hawaiian.

Maggie Browne, the main Character in the St. Rose Quilting
Bee books, designs an obake anthurium wall hanging in

Having a quilt for each book was almost a given with my mystery series since it involves a group of quilters who solve crimes over the quilting frame. At the time I conceived the series, I thought it would be fun to include a quilt pattern at the back of each book—a rail autograph block for A Phantom Death and a nine patch with hearts for An Ominous Death. However, I abandoned that idea with books three and four as it was too difficult to try to explain making a string quilt for Bits and Pieces or a Hawaiian quilt for St. Rose Goes Hawaiian.

Creating your own pattern using an8" square. Remember
to allow for the seam allowance which is included in
the cut pattern.

Writing St. Rose Goes Hawaiian was especially fun because I took my characters—the St. Rose Quilting Beeto my home town in Hawaii for a quilt seminar. Hawaiian quilts are my passion, so I enjoyed planning a quilt for each of my characters. Creating the plot, planning the murder—those are the difficult parts of the writing process. Putting in the quilting bits is the fun part.

I love creating my own Hawaiian quilts. I usually design on a 40”-45” square; it’s not only a more manageable size than a full sized quilt, but I don’t have to piece fabric for the backing or appliqué.

You can make one, too. Hawaiian quilts take their inspiration from nature, so think of your favorite flower or plant. I love plumerias and anthuriums and have done wall hangings using both.

The anthurium paper pattern piece fully opened. The pencil
line shows where you should cut a slit for the flower in the
heart shaped spathe.

Begin by folding your fabric square into a triangle. It’s just like making paper snowflakes. Fold the fabric in half (bottom to top), in half again (left edge to right edge), then take the top left tip and bring it down to meet the lower right tip. This is your design space. Draw your pattern in that space, remembering that it will repeat eight times when opened up. I often start small, with a square made from one sheet of copy paper, so that I can see how the design will look when I open it up. Have fun.

Thanks for joining us today, Annette, and allowing us to see some of your beautiful quilts. Readers, want a chance to win an advance reading copy of St. Rose Goes Hawaiian? Post a comment. -- AP


BPL Ref said...

It's great to see Annette back with another quilting mystery! It's been awhile between books, but good things are usually worth the wait.


petite said...

This appealing and unique mystery which incorporates quilting is a delight. Love the dramatic artwork for the cover.

Di Eats the Elephant said...

I love that you have a quilting 'bee' solve the mystery. It brings to mind Isaac Asimov's mysteries, which I loved. I will have to pick up some of your books as I am both a quilter and writer also, tho I have more UFOs than finished products. Not sure I followed the folding process above, but think I could figure it out since it's like the snowflakes we made in school. How is it moving from humid to dry?

Annette Mahon said...

Thank you, Jeanne and "petite" for your kind words about my mysteries. I really enjoyed writing this one and "showing" my characters around my hometown. I home you enjoy them too, Di. I've lived in the desert for so long now that I find the humidity in Hawai`i draining. Good luck with your snowflake design project. And I too have more UFOs than finished projects.

www.maryjoputney.com said...

I'm totally incompetent with any kind of sewing, but I LOVE these quilts, and the way you weave them into the stories. I particularly like "In the Black at the Pink Plumeria"--as a quilt, as a pun, and as a book cover. Thanks so much for explaining how you combine your writing and your quilting.

Annette Mahon said...

Thanks, Mary Jo. The plumeria quilt is one of my favorites. It was one of my first original designs.

Barbara Graham said...

Beautiful quilts Annette! I made one Hawaiian quilt and I love it but I used a pattern. Next time, I'll try your technique.

Annette Mahon said...

I think you'll enjoy it, Barbara. You can make a nice wall hanging with a pillow sized pattern by adding borders. I did one with a wide border of print fabric and onother with several borders, plain and pieced.

cyn209 said...

sounds like a book i would enjoy!!
thank you for the giveaway!!!!

Annette Mahon said...

You're welcome. Good luck.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Annette,

We share an identity--librarians.
I'm retired and also write fulltime now. I have a series of librarian mysteries published by Five Star/Gale. So we share a publisher as well. Your mystery series sounds like a wonderful reading experience. I know very little about quilting but believe it to be a wonderful art form.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Annette, I think "St. Rose Goes Hawaiian" is your best title yet -- you've had a lot of winners, but this one is SO intriguing!

Carole Price said...

You're a true artist, Annette, incorporating your love of quilting into your writing. You inspire me do the same with my stained glass.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I admire beautiful quilts so much but have never tried making one. The process requires a little more patience than I have.

Reading a quilting mystery, on the other hand, is something I can handle just fine.

Sandy Cody said...

Love these quilts. I'm a quilter too, but have never attempted a Hawaiian quilt. I think quilting and mystery writing fit perfectly together. The shades of light and dark, the way colors change depending on other colors near them - seem to me to echo the way we get to know characters as a story unfolds.

Annette Mahon said...

I spent the day working on a new quilt top, so am late coming on to reply to comments. I really appreciate the lovely comments you all are making. Great to "meet" you Jacqueline. I'll have to look for your librarian mysteries.

Thank you, Laurie and Carole. Good to hear from you.

Patricia, I've always found it interesting when people say needlework takes more patience than they have--because I've never felt that I have a lot of patience. However, I love doing needlework of various kinds and find it very relaxing.

Lovely comments, Sandy. I hope you give Hawaiian quilting a chance some day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great article Annette, Sorry I'm so long to get here so hope you are checking back.

Annette Mahon said...

Hi, Sandy. Good to see you. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. It was fun putting it together.

Barbara White Daille said...

Hi, Annette - my apologies, too, for the delay in getting here.

Great blog post! I'm not crafty at all but think it's wonderful that you include one of your passions in your books.


Annette Mahon said...

Thanks, Barbara. I love including quilts in the books, but then I want to make them all!