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    Entries in interview (2)


    'This thing of paper' blog tour & interview

    I'm a huge fan of Karie Westermann's designs, and we've been online friends since the first issues of Knit Now back in 2011. (Issue 61 has just been published & my oversized lace scarf is on the cover!) 

    So I was very excited when I heard the details about 'This thing of Paper' and I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour - if you've come here from Natalie Servant's blog post, thanks for popping over! 

    'This thing of Paper' will be a book that incorporates both knitting designs & essays. Inspired by the age of Johan Guttenburg and his invention of the printing press, I'm sure we will see lots of Karie's intelligent approach to super wearable design. 

    Image ©Karina Westermann

    You might have heard about the amazing success of Karie's kickstarter campaign, which is (at time of writing) 162% funded with 21 days to go! I had plenty of questions for her, but I was remarkably self restrained!

    Me: Your 'This Thing of Paper' kickstarter campaign was launched and and all the money pledged within 24 hours. Were you prepared for that kind of response? 

    K: I was really, really surprised. I had allowed myself to think that maybe the initial rush would result in about £3,000 within the first day, and then it'd be a month-long campaign to get the rest of the money needed. Well, that obviously didn't happen! We hit the initial goal of £9,700 within 25 hours. 

    Hitting the target goal so fast meant that I needed to take a step back and reassess the project. I would definitely be able to deliver the book I promised, but suddenly there was potential money for improving the paper quality and things like that. The initial target was a bare-bones budget and because it had been met so quickly, I could allow myself to think of some things I hadn't dared to consider before.

    But mainly I just felt like I was being love-bombed by the entire knitting community which felt really, really amazing. I was not prepared for that!

    Me: I felt extra pressure from simply blogging about my 'Get your Granny on' book idea. How has the success of your campaign made you feel? 

    K: Oddly I feel very calm about the book now. I know it will get made and I can get it made without any compromises. That is a huge thing for me. 

    On a personal level, I feel like I have been through an earthquake! This Thing of Paper is a very geeky, arty and bookish project. I was bullied pretty badly at school for being a geeky, arty and bookish girl - you know, wounds heal and they leave scars that unfortunately stay with you throughout your life. And now this wonderful community of people have told me that it's perfectly fine to be geeky, arty and bookish!

    There is some sense of pressure to this project (it wouldn't be right if I didn't feel that) but mostly it has taken away a lot of other things weighing me down. Does that make sense?

    Me: Your previous collection, Doggerland, has been well received as an ebook. Why have you made the decision to go physical with this book?

    K: People kept telling me that they wanted a physical book! And so I sat down and thought about it. I had been wanting to make a knitting book inspired by medieval manuscripts & early printed books since 2012, and suddenly it dawned on me that the most delicious thing in the world would be a physical knitting book about the thing-ness of books. Once I had made that connection, there was no going back.

    Me: I know that your knitting patterns always have wearability at the forefront. Looking at your Pinterest board  I imagine the actual patterns will have plenty of colourwork, but I can see cables too. Can you give us any hints about what sort of things we will be seeing in the designs?

    The book will be divided into three sections: 1) Manuscript, 2) Invention, and 3) Printed. Obviously the book will have an overarching colour palette & feel to it, but each section will be like a mini-capsule in itself. 

    1) Manuscript will have colourwork and some texture worked in rich colours on a background of natural shades.

    2) Invention will have some of the same elements but slightly more subdued. You will see extra emphasis on texture. Still rich colours.

    3) Printed will be more pared back with a very defined colour palette. Again, emphasis on texture here.

    Me: You've mentioned that there will also be essays included in 'This thing of paper'. I find this very exciting - for me, it's one of the things that makes a pattern collection into a really special book, the inclusion of 'other' stuff that comes from a passionate interest in something. I know basically nothing about this area - I'm a prolific reader but have never thought too much about the printing process itself. I'm looking forward to finding out more. Are all the essays going to be written by you, or will there be others involved?

    K: I introduced the idea of essays in 'Doggerland' - pieces of writing that told a story or added context to a design. This Thing of Paper will have similar essays - all written by me. I have a background in book history, so unlike Doggerland, I already know a lot about 14-16th century book production! Basically, I have read 15th century treatises on the moral decay caused by the printing press, so you don't have to! More importantly, I see a lot of parallels between Gutenberg's (alleged!) invention and the media landscape of the 21st century: big changes to how we receive information and how knowledge is spread. 

    Well, I don't know about you - but I'm intrigued! There's still time to contribute to the kickstarter - it looks like there will be extra bonus things added. Thanks to Karie for answering my questions. It's been interesting reading all the tour posts so far - everyone seems to relate to something different. Next on the blog tour is another of my favourite creative & intelligent people - Woolly Wormhead. I'm lucky enough to have met Woolly in real life & I love her approach to design. Her blog is always interesting and she's not often persuaded to take part in blog tours, so be sure to check her out! I'm basically going to be fangirling my way through the whole tour :)

    The full blog tour can be followed here:

    May 26: Naomi Parkhurst

    May 27: Meg Roper

    May 30: Natalie Servant

    June 1: Jacqui Harding

    June 6: Woolly Wormhead

    June 8: Tom of Holland / Tom van Deijnen

    June 10: Ella Austin

    June 13: Leona Jayne Kelly of Fluph

    June 15: JacquelineM

    June 16: Felix Ford/KNITSONIK

    June 17: Clare Devine

    June 20: Dianna Walla


    Author Interview: Debora Geary

    I am an obsessive reader. Always have been, always will be. The single best thing about my Kindle is it makes it easy to read and knit at the same time! I have always had favourite authors too, ones that I know I can sink into one of their books and escape. These tend not to be challenging, literary type authors but well paced 'easy' enjoyable reads. That is not to say that they are not well written - a poorly written book is rarely a relaxing escape. This author obsession started with Enid Blyton & my latest favourite is Debora Geary.

    Debora's 'A modern witch' series is available on Kindle (& other e-readers) & some are on audiobook. This witchy world is a delight. Incorporating family, the internet, witches, autism, cookies, family, friends, community & magic, her world is an engaging and enticing one. In fact, I'm pretty sure I belong there. The main family at the hub of the witchy world is the Sullivan family in Berkeley, California. My maiden name was Sullivan &  I live in Berkeley, UK! I have 3 manic boys, I knit, cook, spend half my life on the internet - no wonder I identify so strongly with this series!

    Book 6 of 7 was released last weekend (on my birthday in fact. I bought myself a little extra present!) Debora very kindly took the time to answer some questions for me. Read on & get to know her a bit. I don't know about you, but I'm coming over all fangirly!


    1) Book 6 in your 'A modern witch' series was released last weekend. Did you know when you wrote 'A modern witch' that it would be a 7 book series, or has that developed along the way?
    I love series, so I definitely hoped to write one.  Five books, maybe seven.  The current series will end at seven books, but I have a list of 34 more books (give or take a few!) to write in this same world.  Nobody sane starts a book with the idea they might one day write 40 :).

    2) Why witches? 
    I have always loved books about witches and magic, but honestly, I don't know why that was the idea that grabbed me enough to actually *write* a book.  I woke up one morning with the kernel of A Modern Witch tickling the inside of my head.  Fortunately I had no idea what I was getting into...

    3) Family & the links between people seem to me to be at the heart of your books, with power, responsibilty & romance adding to the picture. Non-witches are important characters in their own right. Nell & Daniel are the hub of witch central. Are they based on people in your life?
    Every character I write is based on the people in my life, but no character is mostly one person, if that makes sense.  Little bits and pieces of me and people I know creep in everywhere - Lizard's big love of words is mine.  My husband is a wonderful photographer, just like Jennie.  The triplet ten year olds and their love of things pink, glittery, and righteous come from my daughter.  Nell is the mom I wish I could be :)

    4) Knitting is a constant background to your books, that is brought to the foreground in times of stress, or to welcome & soothe. I particularily like the way it is part of the world & not an 'Oh, how cute, I'm going to make them KNIT!' gimmick.  I'm going to guess you are a knitter - but the big question is, do you crochet?!  Is the blanket tradition borrowed from your own experience? 

    I crochet!  Here's evidence :)  I knit.  I'm currently learning to spin and it is possible that thing on my table is a small student loom. I find fiber an amazing way to relax, create, share moments with my kids.  I knit as I noodle writing scenes, so in a way, a lot of words come off my needles.

    5) I have 3 boys - my 11 year old identical twins, and my 13 yr old who has ASD, ADHD, and enormous sensory issues. Your books feature lots of multiples (twins & triplets) and two autistic characters. The utterly adorable Jacob has autism & the brave lead of 'A different witch', Beth, is an adult with Aspergers. I have been especially impressed with how you have managed to convey the sensory challenges they both face, as that is often completely missed. Both of these characters are written with enormous love. Why did you choose to write such potentially tricky characters?

    The multiples thing just kind of happened, but it has been a lot of fun to try to have triplets with distinct personalities and roles in the books.  However, most of that is pure imagination on my part.

    Characters with autism is different.  I am the mother of a five year old with autism - he's my Jacob, although his issues aren't the same as the adorable spinning boy in my books.  I generally write purely to entertain, and anything beyond that is wonderful, but not necessary.  But when I write of Beth and Jacob, I'm very explicitly asking my readers to imagine a world where people with those needs can find love and acceptance and a way to contribute.  And it makes me cry, over and over, when I get emails suggesting that just maybe, my words on that have mattered.  It makes the agonizing work of writing them (and trying so very hard to get it "right") entirely worth it.
    (Note from me: you get it more right than any other author I've read. Writers often miss the love & strength that seems so obvious to me. Thank you especially for writing an adult Aspie character as a success story, not a victim.)

    6) Nell & Daniel have 5 children. We see a lot of the youngest, Aervyn & the triplets (there go those multiples again!), Ginny, Mia & Shay, but so far their eldest, Nathan has been peripheral. Are we going to see more of Nathan?

    Poor Nathan :).  Advice to new writers - when you write the first book of a series, don't randomly assign your characters lots of kids.  Readers will want to meet them all!  I am trying to work some of the more peripheral characters in, but it's a challenge.  The active cast is already very large, and I won't sacrifice story just to make sure everyone gets screen time.

    7) Your books are most easily available in e-reader format. I've also listened to one through Audible. Why did you decide to go down the 'e' route rather than traditional print?

    I decided to write my first book two and a half years ago.  Today, I have ten books out, three more in the works this year, and thousands of wonderful readers.  If I'd been fortunate enough to find a publisher for my first book, I'd probably just now be seeing it hit the shelves.  I love this new world where a book can find readers, and an author can find an audience, with very few people in the middle.

    8) From my family, who all want to play Enchanter's Realm - are you a gamer? What do you play?

    Erm...  Honestly?  No.  I'm not really a gamer, although I suspect that's mostly an accident.  I easily could have been.  I spent my time with my nose in a book instead.  But even I want to play Realm. 

    If you haven't read the books, what are you waiting for?? Go, buy!