Dorothy and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
As of late everything I see seems to remind me of the writing process. For example, last Tuesday, as I sat down beside my friend Dorothy, I began to look at her jacket. I was mesmerized. I had known that Dorothy was a quilter but could she possibly have created the jacket she was wearing? It was obviously made by sewing hundreds of tiny squares into a checkerboard pattern. Like a traditional checkerboard, every other square was black. However, unlike a checkerboard, each of the alternate squares was cut from a completely unique fabric.
She explained to me that gathering the fabric scraps from her quilting friends, shops, and her own collection took three years. But that was only the beginning. She then cut all the fabric into 1.5 inch squares and designed the jacket by sorting the cut fabric into color groups that would please the eye. Only then did she begin to sew it onto a sweatshirt base. The finished project, with its hundreds and hundreds of one inch squares is finished with binding around the neckline and the cuffs which are cut from yet another fabric.
So how did this amazing creation remind me of the writing process? I began to compare the black squares that anchor Dorothy’s jacket to the historical facts around which Margaret and I anchor our historical mysteries. Since our first book, ‘Letters From Brackham Wood’, took place during WWII, we researched the home fronts in both England and America, specifically Spokane, Washington. Local and world events impacted the lives of two cousins, one living in each country. The ‘no two alike’ colored squares reminded me of the bits of the two women’s lives that had to be sorted and put into an order that would allow readers to follow along as the cousins tried to solve a troubling mystery.
I did not ask Dorothy about her next quilting project but our next book will follow the same two women as they find themselves trying to solve other mysteries in the post war world.