Our guest today is Carola Dunn, author of 20 Daisy Dalrymple mysteries (England 1920s), 3 Cornish Mysteries (Cornwall, c. 1970), and 32 Regencies (all over the world, early 1800s). She was born and grew up in England and has lived in the US for more decades than she cares to count, presently in Oregon, where her dog, Trillian, walks her by the Willamette River daily (not including the past few weeks as during their last walk Carola carelessly managed to break four bones in her foot.) Read more about Carola at her website. – AP
I must apologize to devoted readers of Lois's blog. It is crafty and I am not. Nor are most of the characters in my mysteries (not in that sense, at least).
I used to knit, decorate stuff with shells, make mobiles, even paint a little (my painting is definitely craft not art). I've been taught to crochet at least three times but it never stuck.
Looking back, I think I stopped crafting when I ceased to own a TV. It's great to create things when you can watch at the same time, but I spend that time reading, and it just doesn't combine well. Or maybe when I started writing full-time, all my creativity was channeled into that.
Having confessed my craftlessness, I now recall that my first Cornish mystery, Manna from Hades, begins with some knittery. My protagonist, Eleanor Trewynn, is collecting donations for her charity shop:
"We put in several frogs, Mrs Trewynn," said Miss Annabel Willis anxiously. "You did say they were well received?"
"Very well indeed, Miss Annabel. They sold in no time. My thanks to both of you for your hard work and generosity." Eleanor lifted the big cardboard box, whose faint, sweet fragrance bore out the logo on its sides: Co-op Tea. It was more awkward than heavy.
"It's a pleasure to do what little we can to help," the elder Miss Willis assured her from her wheelchair, her knitting needles clicking away tirelessly, producing yet another green and yellow frog.
Later, when the Detective Inspector is looking for evidence in the shop:
Scumble stood glowering at a bin of colourful woolly animals. A grass-green, yellow-bellied, goggle-eyed frog grinned back at him.
Eleanor's next-door neighbour, Nick, paints, but he's an artist, not a crafter. However, when he's suspected of murder in the second book, A Colourful Death, in seeking to clear him Eleanor spends a night at an artists' commune. Some of the residents are crafters, a potter, a knitter, a shell-worker, all on a commercial scale.
The nearest anyone gets to crafting in the third of the series, The Valley of the Shadow, is a bit of prospective sanding and polishing. A farmer donates an ancient wooden cart-wheel, and Eleanor knows someone will buy it for a decoration once her friend Jocelyn, the vicar's wife, has cleaned it up.
I seem to remember an occasional character knitting in the twenty Daisy Dalrymple mysteries, too. It was quite a fashionable occupation in England in the 1920s.
All in all, my books are not quite so devoid of handicrafts as I thought when I embarked on this essay. And I promise I'll have another go at making things when I retire from writing—if that ever comes to pass.
Valley of the Shadow
“The sights and sounds of the coast of Cornwall come alive in The Valley of the Shadow. The rescue of a drowning Indian man leads to a race against time to rescue his family, trapped in the smugglers’ caves on the rocky shore. Feisty retiree Eleanor Trewynn enlists her fellow villagers in tracking down those responsible for abandoning the refugees — but will the smugglers find her first? Dunn gives us a thoroughly enjoyable, cozy suspense novel — one with a social conscience.” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI
Thanks for joining us today, Carola, and we all wish you a speedy recovery from your broken foot bones. -- AP