THE BIRTH OF A NEW SERIES by Lea Wait
I’ll admit: my favorite parts of the writing process are research and editing. Writing that first draft? That’s my version of walking through water deep enough so it’s hard to keep your head above the waves.
So when I started thinking about writing a new series I first thought about what I’d like to learn about. The bigger excuse to do research, the better!
I thought about writing an historical series. I even picked a time and place. (I won’t share more, since I still may write that series!) But my first mystery series (the Shadows Antique Print series) had a background of antique prints, so I decided to explore another area of antiques or art in my new series.
I thought of many possibilities. Antiquarian books had been done. China and glass didn’t fascinate me. Some antiques were wonderful, but I didn’t think I could sustain interest in them for a whole series. I kept thinking, as I walked through antique shows and attended auctions. And then, at a show in Vermont, I saw an entire booth full of samplers.
I’ve always loved old stitching: I grew up with samplers on the walls of my home, and as a child I saw them at the antique shows I attended with my grandmother, whose expertise was in old dolls and toys, but who also loved the “womanly arts” of embroidery, tatting, knitting, and needlepoint. She tried to teach those skills to me, but, sadly, my skills were with words, not needles. (I can knit pretty well, but that’s the end of my needle craft skills.)
In past generations, women were expected to know how to sew. Embroidery was an embellishment; a way to demonstrate high levels of those skills, as well as a woman’s artistic creativity. Needlepoint decorated clothing and homes. (In Elizabethan times wealthy families often retained men or women whose only job was to embellish wall coverings, bed hangings, gowns and vests.)
I knew those things. But I didn’t know much else about needle crafts. If I wrote a series with a background of needlepoint, I’d have a great excuse to learn more. A visit with the head of the Textile Division of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston convinced me: I’d found the background for my series.
And, since I was still learning about needlepoint, I decided my protagonist, Angie Curtis, would also be learning.
So Angie’s grandmother, an expert needlepointer, has a small Maine business with several employees who do custom needlework for designers and high end shops. One of the needlepointers is also an antique dealer, and she suggests they also identify and restore antique needlework.
The Mainely Needlepoint series was born.
In TWISTED THREADS, the first book in the series, Angie Curtis is called back to Haven Harbor, Maine, where she grew up … and where her mother disappeared fifteen years ago. Now her mother’s body has been found and Angie, who’s been working for a private investigator in Arizona, is determined to find her mother’s killer. To do that she has to face her own past, and get involved with her grandmother’s needlepoint business.
And I’m sharing the results of my research not only with Angie and the others in Haven Harbor, but with my readers. At the beginning of each chapter I’m including a quotation about needlework, or words from an early sampler. A glimpse of the past, although the mystery is today. In some books Angie will even find clues to the killer in needlework.
In addition to the Mainely Needlepoint series, Lea Wait is the author of the seven-book Shadows Antique Print mystery series, and has written five historical novels for young people. She herself is a fourth generation antique dealer, and lives on the coast of Maine with her artist husband, Bob Thomas, and their black cat, Shadow. To learn more about Lea and her books, see her website, www.leawait.com. She also welcomes readers to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads. The second in the Mainely Needlepoint series, THREADS OF EVIDENCE, will be published in August, 2015, and is now available for pre-order at bookstores and on-line.