Welcome, Kylie. Before we go too much further I ought to point out you’ve been here before under an alias. Now you’ve taken on an entirely new identity? Exactly what are you running from and who’s after you? Are we going to get into trouble for harboring you on this blog and for giving away a copy of the evidence?
Ah, if only my life was that exciting! Actually, I do have two different names I’m writing under right now, but for way more boring reasons. As Kylie Logan, I’m writing the new Button Box mystery series. As Casey Daniels I write the Pepper Martin mysteries. Why the name change? Because there is a paranormal element in the Pepper Martin mysteries (she works in a cemetery and investigates for the ghosts there). The Button Box mysteries, on the other hand, are “straight” cozies. Nothing woo-woo or paranormal, just cozy mysteries.
Years ago you and I went antiquing and saw Mason jars filled with wonderful old buttons. I bought one and still have it in my sewing room–although with fewer buttons since they now adorn a quilt. Did you file away the idea for a button shop then? Or when did the idea occur to you and how did you mold it into a brand new series?
I wish I would have bought a jar of buttons that day, too. Since I’ve started writing the series and have been looking for old buttons, I haven’t found any jars of them anywhere! As for how I got started with the Button Box mysteries .
I’ve always liked old buttons. As Josie Giancola, the heroine of my series says, they’re little bits of history, tiny pieces of art. Like all writers, I look at things like buttons and imagine who owned them and what kind of lives those people had. And buttons really can tell us a lot about the people who owned them: what styles they likes, what their social class was, how they took care of their clothes. There are lots of interesting customs associated with buttons, too. For instance, in the nineteenth century, girls would have photographs of their boyfriends put on their buttons and would wear those buttons on their coats.
That’s a long way of saying that I think buttons are fascinating!
So all that has always been in the back of my mind. Then, a couple years ago, I was up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, having lunch by myself on the front porch of a charming coffee shop. Two people came out to the porch and sat at the table next to me and decided to use that exact moment to break up with each other! They went on and on, and I kept expecting them to apologize. It was obvious I could hear every word they were saying! Well, I finally had enough, and I gathered up my things and headed to the first place I could find, an antique shop nearby. When I opened the door, I saw buttons. Thousands and thousands of buttons! Visiting that antique button shop gave me the idea for the Button Box, the shop my heroine owns. Hers is not in Ann Arbor, but in Chicago, in a converted brownstone.
Tell us about any interesting research you did along the way. Is button collecting really a thriving hobby? Do you have your own collection?
You know, I met a newbie writer recently, and she said something about how easy it must be to write contemporary books because they don’t require any research. Wrong! Every book demands research, and I’ve had fun doing it for the Button Box books. I visited a historic museum in Milan, Ohio that houses a great button collection and the nice folks there let me play with the buttons to my heart’s content. I’ve also assisted on a judging panel at a contest at a button show. Yes, there are button shows. All over the country. And knowledgeable, interesting experts who know everything there is to know about historic buttons. There is a National Button Society for those interested in collecting and according to what I’ve read, button collecting is the third most popular hobby in the country, right after coin and stamp collecting.
As for a collection of my own, I do have a few buttons, but hardly what I’d call a collection. I’m still at the point of learning which buttons I like the most. There are so many possibilities! Right now, I’m particularly attracted to realistics (buttons that look like real things, i.e, dogs, houses, birds, etc.). I also like black glass buttons, mother of pearl buttons, Bakelite buttons, art glass buttons . . .
In the fabulous review from Blogcritics, the reviewer was particularly pleased that you didn’t let the hobby overtake the mystery. How do you balance the two? Buttons are fascinating, but clearly your mystery and characters are equally so.
That’s the trick, isn’t it? For any writer. We’ve got to take whatever element we think is particularly interesting (like buttons) and put it in a book without it overshadowing the book. I think the trick there is to integrate the two. Buttons are interesting in Button Holed, but they’re only interesting as they relate to the story and because the buttons are vital to the solution to the mystery. If all that button info was just thrown in there for window dressing, it would be an instant invitation to boredom for the reader. A writer’s job is to mix and blend and make sure that the info that is there is important. That’s what gets a reader involved and lets that reader learn a thing or two about buttons along the way.
There’s a rumor making the rounds that Kylie Logan/Casey Daniels/Miranda Bliss/Connie Laux may have come up with yet another fabulous idea. You’re a woman of many talents. Can you give us a sneak peek and tell us when we might see that one on shelves, too?
It’s true, though since I haven’t officially signed the contract yet, I’m not going to reveal too many details. I’ll have a new series starting, probably in 2013. I can tell you the series takes place on an island, and that it involves four women who really (really!) don’t like each other. Ah yes, they will be thrown together and will have to solve mysteries, too. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun to write, but before I can begin book #1, I’ve got Pepper Martin mystery #9 to finish (should be published fall, 2012) and the third book in the Button Box series. The second in the series (title looks like it’s going to change so I won’t tell you the working title) will be out summer, 2012. As for that new series, I’m not sure what name I’ll be using for that one!
I’ve just bought Button Holed for my eReader and can’t wait to dive in. And one lucky reader who comments on this blog in the next week will be entered in a giveaway for a signed copy of Button Holed, so don’t be shy. Add your comments or ask your questions here for a chance to win. As always, random.org will make the selection.
Thanks for being here, Kylie, to tell us about your latest.