While on vacation in France last month, I finally had a chance to finish up a fun crafty novel, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter by Crafty Chica‘s Kathy Cano-Murillo. This book is the star crafter’s first foray into novel writing and let me tell you, this book is good!Waking Up in the Land of Glitter is about Estrella “Star” Esteban and her family’s restaurant which has a rep for good food and great art. Nestled in La Pachanga, Arizona, the small town brings people together, even when it looks like they couldn’t be further apart. One ill-fated evening, Star jeopardizes her family’s business, her relationship with her boyfriend, and her future career. To redeem herself, she agrees to participate in a national craft competition, teaming up with her best friend, Ofelia (a secretly troubled mother whose love for crafting borders on obsession) and local celebrity Chloe Chavez (a determined television personality with more than one skeleton in her professional closet). The book makes you laugh, especially all the crafty references which I know all of you will surely get.
Book Giveaway Time!
One lucky CRAFT reader will win a signed copy of Waking Up in the Land of Glitter and an advanced reader copy of her second novel, Miss Scarlett’s School of Patternless Sewing. Just tell us why you would like these books in the comments. All comments will be closed by Noon PST on Friday, September 24, 2010. The lucky winner will be chosen randomly and announced later on the site. Good luck!
Read the Q+A with Kathy about Waking Up in the Land of Glitter and her new life as a novelist after the jump!
Congrats to Kelly from Santa Cruz, CA for winning!
Natalie: You call your book “crafty lit,” what does that mean and is it a term you invented?
Kathy: I’m not sure if the term has been coined before, maybe so, but I do know there are many other crafty-themed novels on the market. There are mystery series about knitting, crochet and even scrapbooking and cross stitch! There are many women’s fiction books about knitting groups, like Kate Jacob’s Friday Night Knitting Club, that are about friendship and overcoming the odds, etc. In addition, there are best selling authors like Jennifer Weiner and Terry McMillan that have crafty characters. I’ve always been intrigued by these books and have read them faithfully.
Natalie: How does Waking Up in the Land of Glitter fit into the mix? What kind of crafty characters do you have?
Kathy: It’s a light, fun read. I call it Ugly Betty-meets-Martha-meets-Waiting to Exhale! My book is about three crafty Latinas in Phoenix, AZ. One is a snobby bohemian princess-type who uses her “high standards” as an excuse not to make anything. Her friend is an insecure, raging craftaholic who goes overboard with her hobby, to the point of almost hurting her family. And rounding out their group is a local crafty celebrity who secretly despises anything and everything handmade. They have to come together every week to make 200 glittered centerpieces for the upcoming CraftOlympics, which is like a cross between Maker Faire and the consumer craft convention. Granted, when I wrote the book into 2004, nothing like that existed!
Natalie: After building a career in crafting and even authoring seven craft books, what made you decide to write a novel?
Kathy: I’ve actually been a writer long before I was a crafter. In fourth and fifth grade I used to write short stories and essays about things my family would talk about at the dinner table, I’d embellish them like crazy and read them out loud to my class. I loved Erma Bombeck back then, she had a column in the newspaper that I read every week. I also loved Judy Blume. My dream was to grow up to be a features reporter for The Arizona Republic. When that happened, I loved my job because it fulfilled the “Erma” in me, but knew I wanted to try for a novel to tap into my inner “Judy.” At first I didn’t want my novel to have anything to do with crafting, I wanted my writing to be a separate entity. My original idea was about a chubby reporter that covered the Hollywood scene – and then I read Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed, and knew I could not top that! I loved that book. I decided to go with my heart, and theme my book around crafters and the drama, emotion and comedy that goes with all the glue and glitter. They say write what you know, and that worked for me. I wrote the first draft for National Novel Writing Month in 2004. It sold in 2007 to Grand Central Publishing.
Natalie: How does fiction writing compare to crafting and making art?
Kathy: They are a lot alike! When I’m crafting, I have all my supplies sorted out, and writing is the same. The plot is the outline, the characters are the colors, the verbs are the shading and definitions, the metaphors are like the embellishments. The only difference is that I can’t “see” all those supplies like I can when I’m making art. It takes a different section of my brain to pull it together. But the creativity comes from the same place, the yearning to relay a message. To me, crafting and writing both offer the opportunity to inspire, and transport your mind to a new place.
Natalie: Do you think there is a market for crafty lit, if so, what advice do you have for other wannabe novelists?
Kathy: I think there is always a market for good books. If you have a decent story and lovable characters, it will work. Personally, I would love to see the crafty lit market grow. I know many fellow crafters who are capable of writing a juicy page turner! My advice is that you have to love to read books, and love to write. find a block of time each day and make it a ritual. Put together an outline and write. Don’t think about publishers or agents until your have completed your manuscript! It takes a lot of discipline and focus, but it is worth it!
Natalie: You are known very well in crafty circles, how did the book world take to your style and brand?
Kathy: So far, so good! My goal for all of this is to turn crafters into readers, and readers into crafters. I was extremely nervous, worrying if I could fit in and be respected. I worried if the book was too crafty for everyday book lovers. I felt like the new girl at school. But before the book even came out, I began to get emails from non-crafters who read and loved it and told me they were inspired to make something. I still receive a steady stream of emails and photos from book groups from Miami and New York City to San Antonio and Albuquerque who made a craft project during their meeting. I love that!
Natalie: What’s next, any more books?
Kathy: Yes! My next novel is called Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing, it comes out in March. In my first novel, I used glitter as a metaphor for the characters outlooks on life. In this book, the theme is the patterns we are given by our families. It is about a talented clothing designer who has a popular blog, yet her own family refuses to acknowledge her talent or dreams. She doesn’t want to follow the family pattern, she wants to make her own. I’m currently working on my third book which is about the world of cake decorating!
Natalie: What about for your crafting? You aren’t ditching that, are you?!
Kathy: Never! CraftyChica.com is still going strong! In fact, we are taking reservations for the 5th Annual Crafty Chica Cruise for April 2011! you can visit my site for more info! Eight days in Mexico, crafting our guts out!
Buy a copy of Waking Up in the Land of Glitter or visit Kathy’s site at www.CraftyChica.com.