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Monday, April 18, 2016


Marissa Doyle got distracted on her way to becoming an archeologist. But she’s put her passion for history into writing historical fantasy for teens and adult...just don’t ask her where the fantasy elements come from. Learn more about her books at her website/blog and at her teen history blog.

I'm a writer. I'm also a crafter who loves anything to do with fabric: I sew (both clothes and home decor), upholster, do fabric decoupage, and most of all, quilt. My "office" (okay, the guest bedroom, but thank heavens all my family lives only about an hour away or I'd be in deep doo-doo) is divided more or less in half: one part has my desk, computer, filing cabinets, and bookcases full of reference materials. The other half has my sewing machine, cutting table, ironing board, design wall, and the large bins containing my fabric stash.

It works out pretty well: if I get stuck while writing and need to think about a plot point or a character's reaction to an event, I can just get up from my desk, go over to my sewing machine, and chain-piece some half-square triangles for my current quilting project to give my brain a chance to work on the problem without really thinking about it. When I have it figured out, I go back to my desk. Win-win situation!

I like to joke that of my two passions, writing wins because it doesn't leave threads all over the carpet. And yes, it's pretty funny that one side of my office has a nice clean rug and the other side is generally less so. But then one day, the two halves blurred together. I got an idea for a novel in which quilting played a major role.

And because a little fantasy or magic creeps into everything I write, I wasn't just going to write about plain old quilts--no, mine were going to contain magic, unwittingly pieced into them by my heroine who has no idea she is doing so...until one of her quilts traps the evil entity terrorizing her small Cape Cod town and saves the selkie she’s lost her heart to. Several types of quilts make an appearance in Skin Deep, but I knew the most important quilt in the book would have to be my favorite design, Storm at Sea.
Storm at Sea basic quilt pattern
A Storm at Sea Block is made up of squares and rectangles set in such a way as to give an illusion of curves without actually including any curved seams, which can be tricky to get right. The resulting quilt has a strong sense of motion, almost like the surface of a restless sea. From what I’ve been able to find, it’s not all that old a block design—probably early 1900s—but it has inspired some breathtakingly beautiful quilts. It’s also a very versatile block: playing with the color arrangement in the blocks can lead to very different looking quilts.

Plug “Storm at Sea Quilt” into Google Images or Pinterest and see what turns up: it’s pure eye candy. Feeling inspired? I’ve got three Storm at Sea patterns for downloading on my website; get out your markers and colored pencils and see what you can do...or what quilt magic you can create. As for me...like my heroine in Skin Deep, Garland, I have more than one stash box of blue fabrics because I can’t resist blue...and one of these days, I’ll be bouncing over to do some piecing on a Storm at Sea quilt while I work on my next book.

Skin Deep
After a painful divorce, Garland Durrell looks forward to settling into her home on Cape Cod to make the quilts that are her passion. On the first morning of her new life she finds a man and a small boy washed up on the beach, both badly wounded. Since the town chief of police is strangely reluctant to help, Garland takes on the care of the mysterious pair who don't seem to remember what happened to them--and feels her own heart begin to heal.

Alasdair does remember. He and his son Conn are the last of the ruling family of selkies from the waters around the Cape, locked in a decades-long struggle with an evil that threatens all, selkie and human. He’s not sure if he can trust the lovely, blue-eyed woman who takes them in until he touches one of her quilts and feels the magic she’s sewn into it...and the emotions that he never thought he’d feel again.

But the evil entity that stole Alasdair’s sealskin and left him for dead quickly senses both his presence and Garland’s magic, and is determined to destroy one and possess the other. Only Garland and her quilts, made with a power she barely believes she has, can save them all from destruction—if she can avoid being destroyed first.


Angela Adams said...

Marissa, your book's premise has me intrigued.

Marissa Doyle said...

Thank you, Angela. I hope you'll give it a try.