~ Interview by Melina Kantor
It’s an honor to have author and knitter extraordinaire Rachael Herron visiting the blog today! Rachael’s second novel, How to Knit a Heart Back Home, came out last week. She’s here to celebrate with us, and share some of her thoughts on writing and knitting.
You’ve written two novels and a memoir about knitting. Your blog is about knitting AND writing. For you, knitting and writing go hand in hand. What similarities do you find between your two favorite creative outlets?
Both knitting and writing prove that consistent, daily motion provides concrete results. If I knit a little bit, just a few stitches, everyday, I’ll eventually end up with a sweater. If I write a few words, even in just fifteen minute sittings, I’ll end up with a novel. It always feels like a kind of miracle: you’re slogging away FOREVER, and then one day, you turn around and you realize for the first time that you’re almost done. I’m one of those who sprints toward a finish line, so I love that point.
What do you think makes novels about knitting so popular?
Knitters, by and large, are a very intelligent, educated demographic. They’re already voracious readers of all genres, and knit-lit just happens to tickle both of those fancies. And if they can actually perform both at the same time (some knit while listening to audiobooks; I knit with my Kindle propped in front of me) so much the better.
Reading, writing and knitting are all activities easily done in isolation but often done in clubs or groups. Why do these activities create such strong bonds and communities?
It’s both because knitting and writing are often so solitary, and also because people who do these activities tend to get REALLY involved in them. They study books, they read websites, and they make themselves knowledgeable. What could be better than getting together with friends and trading tips and secrets? I’ve found the community of romance writers and knitters to be the most generous groups I’ve ever been fortunate enough to be involved with. They give and share and teach with nothing held back–information is to share.
What role does community play in your books?
It’s funny–when I wrote the first novel set in Cypress Hollow, the community of knitters within the small town echoed that of the one I’m a part of in the big city, the Bay Area. There are wildly advanced knitters and newbies and everyone in between, and they all found a place in my little town. And I believe that happens, no matter how big or small an area is–community is formed by common interest. But it does lend itself to interesting problems when that area is small–there’s no way to avoid people one might want to avoid, and I love exploiting those situations in my books both for humor and for conflict.
You’re a NaNoWriMo success story. What was your NaNo experience like?
My first NaNo rocked my world in a way few things ever have. It was 2006, and I threw myself into it, heart and soul. Instead of trying to write “well,” I wrote fast, and I found that I’d finally written something I could be proud of. The experience of finally, finally getting to write those two magic words, The End, was like nothing I’d ever imagined. It was very close to the feeling I’d had when I crossed a marathon finish line. I did both of those things alone, with no one next to me to celebrate immediately. At the marathon finish line, I wandered around with a stunned look on my face. When I finished the book, I sat on the back porch in the sun, feeling the same stunned look on my face, sipping from a can (yes, a can) of champagne I’d found in the fridge. I’d just never known, before NaNo, that I had it in me to finish a book. That book (with double the words and a lot of editing) turned into How to Knit a Love Song, which came out last year, as the first of a trilogy from HarperCollins. And by the end of this year, I’ll have three novels and a memoir (from Chronicle) out, which is a fantastic feeling. All thanks, I think, to NaNo.
How has being an RWA member and being so active in your local chapter helped you with your writing career?
I learned more in my first two years with RWA than I did in two years getting my MFA in creative writing. It’s a stunningly well-run organization filled with (mostly) women who will share laughs and tears and absolutely all the knowledge they have in order to help you, knowing you’ll do the same for others. I haven’t missed a single meeting since I joined almost three years ago. I love my local chapter and the organization as a whole.
What advice do you have for aspiring and not-yet-published authors?
Join RWA, no matter what you write. They know everything, I swear they do.
Write every day. Even if you just write six words and run away, at least you’re feeding the beast, keeping it tame, Manuscripts left languishing tend to go feral. All it takes it facing it, once a day, to keep it calm. And one day, you’ll look around and be almost done with that horrible first draft, SO close to starting revision (and that’s where the fun is, let me tell you. Revision is AWESOME. I hate first drafts).
Thank you so much for having me here today!
Thank you, Rachael!
We’ll leave you with Rachael’s very special book trailer.