A crime-solving ghost and magical charms from the past make PLEATING FOR MERCY a sure winner! The Cassidy women are naturally drawn to mystery and mischief. You’ll love meeting them! —NYT Bestselling Author Maggie Sefton
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Remember the first time you ever sewed? I have such a clear memory of the first thing I ever made. It was back when Home Ec was called Home Ec--my sister told me it's now called Hum Ec, for Human Ecology, but I refuse to believe that.
Anyway, back in the day, girl took home ec and boys took shop. That's how it was. We learned to make baked bean burgers, and tuna pizza--I mean, can you imagine anything worse? THAT was supposed to inspire us to become good cooks and homemakers? But I, as usual, digress.
We also learned to SEW. With a pattern.
I must admit, I thought this was pretty cool. Being a kind of chubbette, at the time, for whom shopping was basically a hideous enterprise, the idea of making clothes that fit was genius.
Don't try anything too difficult, my mother warned. So did Mrs...oh, gee, I forget the teacher's name. Anyway, I decided on a pleated skirt.
I know, I know, dumb, but it was 1964 and I was enthusiastic.
So I got his fabric, and got a pattern, and cut it out and put in the zipper and did the pleats and it WORKED, by golly it did. EXCEPT, the pattern on the FRONT of the skirt went one way, and the pattern on the back of the skirt went the other way.
What I needed, I now know, was a little Harlow Cassidy magic. Via Melissa Bourbon's delightful new character!
(All the Cassidy women possess special gifts. Harlow Jane Cassidy’s is creating beautiful dresses. And in Melissa Bourbon's new book, she’s about to discover secrets in her own family, and another gift—one that can reach beyond the grave… When her great-grandmother passes away, Harlow Jane Cassidy leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and moves back to Bliss, Texas.)
Shades of Tim and Heidi! This adorable mystery is Project Runway meets (a very hip and grown-up) Nancy Drew.Melissa--how did this all begin?
MELISSA BOURBON: I was in elementary school when my mother taught me to sew. The first big project I made completely on my own, a dress, was hard, definitely, but I am nothing if not dogged and focused when I put my mind to something.
The pattern had the option of using two coordinating fabrics which I decided to attempt. I made the whole thing from scrap pieces from my mother’s ample collection. I worked for hours and hours on that dress, even adding buttons up the straight skirt. I was so proud of myself, but what I remember most is how proud my mom was. That was the beginning of a lifelong love of sewing.
Sewing is, in some ways, a lost art. I’m teaching my daughter. She went to a fashion camp this summer. She doesn’t love sewing (it’s hard work, after all), but thanks to Project Runway, there seems to be a renewed interest in fashion, in general, and she has an interest in it.
I asked myself this question as I came up with and wrote Pleating for Mercy, the first Magical Dressmaking mystery (which was released on August 2nd). What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires my character, Harlow Jane Cassidy (a descendent of Butch Cassidy)? What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires anyone who has a love for this craft?
For Harlow, it’s about the creativity, the art, and the heritage of hand sewing in her family. I have that in my family, as well. Generation upon generation of women have sewn, quilted, embroidered, and knitted. It’s a legacy, and that’s something infused in Harlow’s fictional DNA.
One of the best parts of writing this series is that I get to research fabrics, fashion, style, and accessories. I bought Nina Garcia’s (from Project Runway) The One Hundred (tips for every fashionable woman). I bought a book on vintage 1800s dress design (book 2, A Fitting End has Harlow creating a period gown for a town historical pageant). I get to buy dress forms and trims and myriad other goodies to inspire me.
I may not have much time to actually sew, but I get to write about sewing machines, technique, and notions. And I get to peruse bridal magazines, and anything else that strikes my sewing fancy. It may not be the same as sitting down at my Pfaff® and creating a color-blocked dress or a quilted tote, but it works. For now.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, I must say--most of the women who work with me could not--and I am not exaggerating--thread a needle. And, actually, might not even realize why they should! How about you?
And continuing our win-a-book-a-day at Jungle Red, a copy of PLEATING FOR MERCY will be sent to a lucky commenter!
Here’s what Hank Phillippi Ryan said about Pleating for Mercy. I have her quote hanging up to inspire me as I write book 3 in A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series. Love ya, Hank!
“Enchanting! Prepare to be spellbound from page one by this well-written and deftly-plotted cozy. It’s charming, clever and completely captivating! Fantasy, fashion and a foul play—all sewn together by a wise and witty heroine you’ll instantly want as a best friend. Loved it!”~ Hank Phillippi Ryan Agatha, Anthony and Macavity winning author
Visit Melissa at her website http://melissabourbon.com
Melissa on Twitter http://twitter.com/MelissaBourbon
Melissa on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelissaBourbon.MisaRamirez
And at Books on the House, a website bringing books and readers together! http://booksonthehouse.comAbout the Author:
Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, is the marketing director with Entangled Publishing. She is the founder of Books on the House, the co-founder of The Naked Hero and is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery Series and two upcoming romantic suspense novels (written as Misa Ramirez).