The Queen Bees Quilt Shop Mysteries, a series Sally Goldenbaum wrote several years ago while living in the Midwest, is finding new life. A refreshed, re-edited edition of each of the books is being released this summer: A Patchwork of Clues, (originally titled Murders on Elderberry Road) was a June release; A Thread of Darkness (original titled A Murder of Taste) has been released this month; and A Bias for Murder (originally titled Murder on a Starry Night), is scheduled for August.
1. How did your books come to be reissued?
It was serendipity.
Written before my current series (The Seaside Knitters Society Knitting mysteries), the Queen Bees Quilt shop mysteries were originally published by a small publisher, a division of a newspaper chain, as a complement to the publisher’s coffee table quilting books and patterns and (important in this situation) contracted without an agent. When my agent tried to get the rights back for me, we discovered I had signed a contract that all but gave away my first-born child; rights reversion would be difficult, we learned. I forgot about it and moved on to a new series.
But a couple years later, I learned that the newspaper book division had been sold off to a publisher of craft magazines. On a whim, I called and discovered the publisher would happily sign over the rights to me—she didn’t publish fiction and didn’t quite know what to do with my books.
Serendipity. And even more so when my wonderful publisher of the seaside knitters mysteries picked them up to republish.
Which aspects of your book feel especially relevant today for readers?
The aspects readers tell me are relevant to them are almost always the same. The bonds of friendship among the quilters. Their loyalty and strength and insight. And their sense of caring and kindness. Maybe it’s because that’s what we all want in our world today.
Which character are you most glad to have out in the world again and why?
Among the quilting group, there’s a young woman called Phoebe. She’s a little crazy and outspoken—but her kind heart and brave self have stayed with me, even though she’s not the most prominent character in the books. Phoebe is a spirited bartender who married into a wealthy socialite family and stayed true to herself. She reminds me of a generation of women in which I place much hope. I am happy to welcome Phoebe back.
Were there indispensable people without whom you couldn’t have written the books?
Absolutely. While writing the series, I was also an editor of a veterinary medicine journal and worked closely with another editor who happened to be an amazing quilter. When she found out I was beginning the series (and also that I was definitely not a gifted quilter), she invited me to attend her Saturday quilting group in Lawrence, KS, a university town a few miles west of us. It was there, in the back room of a fabric shop, that I met my characters, my Queen Bees. Truly! The quilting group was welcoming and wonderful and fascinating—from the banker to the university professor to the young mom and the elderly philanthropist—and each of them contributed in some way to the quilting characters’ personalities.
These women pulled me into their group, ignored my computer and the notes I took, and introduced me to quilting and the amazing friendships that were formed in that back room among the colorful fabrics.
And when the manuscript was finished, several of them read it and examined every single description of quilting and fabric and design until ‘we’ all had it right. I’m forever grateful to them.
What meal and drink do you think would pair well with your book?
In between solving mysteries in their small town of Crestwood, KS, the quilters love to eat and Po Paltrow loves to cook. A favorite meal might be crisp, Parmesan baked chicken breasts, accompanied by a glass of New Zealand chilled sauvignon blanc.
Sally Goldenbaum writes the Queen Bees Quilt Shop Mysteries and The Seaside Knitters Society Mystery Series. She now lives on Cape Ann, MA.—just down the beach from her seaside knitter friends. www.sallygoldenbaum.com