Marie Bostwick has quilted for a lot more years than she's been writing novels, which is one of the reasons her book series set in a cozy quilt shop has been such a hit with quilters. We know she's one of us because of the way she writes.
Her fourth Cobbled Court Novel, Threading the Needle, is due out May 31, and still follows the adventures of Evelyn Dixon, a survivor of breast cancer (and a cheating husband) whose successful quilt shop provides enormous solace.
Like many popular authors today, Marie connects with her readers via Facebook, Twitter, a blog and her website. But a much deeper connection was forged after some fans proposed a block swap on her website's reader forum. About 17 of her readers completed their Christmas block swap in 2009. They had so much fun that forum posters proposed a second swap using a heart block pattern Marie offers free on the site.
When the second swap was also a smash, forum fans started clamoring for a quilt retreat. Marie, busy with deadlines, said she didn't have time to organize and run a get-together, but would attend if others did that part.
So last November the author spent an entire weekend with 16 fervent fans at a Connecticut retreat center called Wisdom House. They came from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma and Canada, and made pillowcases for charity, learned new hand appliqué skills and worked on projects they brought along. "Mostly we were just wonderfully normal," says Marie, "Just quilters getting together, talking about our families and our quilts."
There were some bonus expeditions most quilting retreats don't include, says Dorothy Hayes, one of the event's organizers. "We got a magical tour of Litchfield, Connecticut, which is the small town on which New Bern in the books is based. We walked down the actual Cobbled Court (which does not include a quilt shop) and ate lunch in the Grill that was the model for Grill on the Green in the book. The owner is just like Charlie! This was like fans of J.K. Rowling making a trip to Harry Potter World."
Not only that, Marie whispered some secrets about future plot developments, and shared details of her writing process. (FYI, I predict my own future will include additional outings with my readers–if they have anything to say about it!)
For more on Marie and her worlds, both fictional and real, go to www.mariebostwick.com.–Meg Cox of the skinny