It’s a special treat to know
today’s guest author who is multi talented and a true, eclectic ‘Gemini’, her journey started as a classical/pop singer/composer, and later found herself moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Sarah’s short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt. As a quilt artist/designer she has successfully published a couple of non-fiction articles in Traditional Quiltworks and Quilt World. Being a professional quilter at that time and surrounded by fabrics and textile art, she lived and breathed sewing. So one day, after she had written ‘Sewing Can Be Dangerous’, her first ever short story, she had an epiphany:
“I would write a collection of short stories that all had a single ‘thread’ of either sewing or crafts.”
She writes historical fiction but at the same time enjoys reading romance classics scific even jombies. So let’s welcome today yet another amazing author/blogger/singer/calligrapher on our blog tour “A living series talk.”
Hi Sarah, thank you for agreeing to this interview I’m so very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet you and talk to you.
Welcome to A living series talk
Tell us a little about yourself?
Thanks for the invite as well Inderjit.
As far as writers go, I am definitely a late bloomer. No early author dreams for me, no non-stop story telling or school papers my parents could brag about. I didn’t even think about all of that, nor would I want to. Coming from a family of writers, editors, and in my father’s case, a television scriptwriter, that ten-foot pole was not only untouchable for me, it lived and breathed competition.
So, I did many other things instead, such as being a professional singer, composer, production artist/manager, calligrapher, quilt designer/teacher, and ESL teacher. Yet nestled in there somewhere, I finally tried my hand at writing. It was at a department store as I sat waiting for my teenage daughter to finish picking out clothes. Surprise, surprise. Apparently, I had found an instant drug of choice. I never looked back.
That sounds great!
And I’m curious to know more about the quilt series from your writing desk.
So, what have you written?
In addition to penning a couple of quilt articles when I was a quilt designer/teacher I’ve written and published four fiction books that include :
1) UNEXPECTED GIFTS
A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives’ behaviors help shape our own?
In Unexpected Gifts that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth, the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors’ hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.
2) SEWING CAN BE DANGEROUS AND OTHER SMALL THREADS
WHEN HISTORY, MYSTERY, ACTION, and ROMANCE ARE ALL ROLLED INTO ONE! These eleven short stories range from drug traffickers using hand-woven wallets, to a U.S. slave sewing freedom codes into her quilts; from a cruise ship murder mystery with a quilt instructor and a NYPD police detective, to a couple hiding Christian passports into a comforter in Nazi Germany; from an old Salem Witchcraft wedding quilt curse to a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Ashbury love affair between a professor and a macramé artist gone horribly wrong, just to name a few.
3) TALES TO COUNT ON
Curl up and enter the eclectic world of S. R. Mallery, where sad meets bizarre and deception meets humor; where history meets revenge and magic meets gothic. Whether it’s 500 words or 5,000, these TALES TO COUNT ON, which include a battered women’s shelter, childhood memories, Venetian love, magic photographs, PTDS fallout, sisters’ tricks, WWII spies, the French Revolution, evil vaudevillians, and celebrity woes, will remind you that in the end, nothing is ever what it seems.
4) THE DOLAN GIRLS
The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery has it all. Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Added to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and of course, romance. Two, in fact!
Amazing that’s fascinating collection of stories and pretty interesting too. Sarah you’ve penned great collection of Historical fiction and I’m impressed! Well, so do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, or longhand?
Actually, I use two of these methods. I start out with longhand (like I’m doing right now for this interview). That gets typed up on my computer, printed out, and edited by hand, often on my bed or our comfy living room couch, nestled against one of our sleeping cats.
It’s back to the computer again. I type it up, print it out, edit it, etc etc. This process keeps repeating itself until finally, I murmur, “Good enough for Rock ‘n Roll.” Then I pretty much let it go… until I think of something else to change!
Yes I do agree Sarah. Let’s talk about creative writing so to get a perfect blend of characters and imagined story do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I start out with an idea and I might go with the flow, but that doesn’t last long because basically, I’m more of a Planner than a Pantser. Of course, along the way, I’m totally open to change if it reads better, so I guess I’m a Planner with a Pantser Rising.
Well said Sarah change is after all that persists and for creativity we do need loads of compiling ideas and of course we do change the way the time demands. So moving on for your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I read ebooks for fiction. I don’t have the best eyes so I love being able to give them a rest by making the font bigger than a paperback would have. However, having said that, I much prefer traditional paper/hard back books for all my research. Those pages are lovingly scribbled on, highlighted, and their corners folded. Looking back on these books, I always smile at the germinations of plots, motivations, character developments I’ve derived from these texts, and their margins definitely reflect that.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this segment Sarah. Let’s talk about something every writer needs to constantly rejuvenate as writing involves lots of sitting and we do get stressed. So how do you destress? Any special distress techniques?
I relax in several ways: walking on my treadmill while watching movies/TV series, hanging out with my husband, my kids, and my friends. Sometimes I sit out back and take in all the plants in our backyard, breathing nice and slow and enjoying the view. And sometimes a glass (or two) of wine just hits the spot!
Thanks again Sarah for sharing your thoughts with us and wonderful advice.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Certainly readers can find me here;
Amazon Author Page:
I would like to mention the gratifying reviews posted on my
Sharing with my readers
SEWING CAN BE DANGEROUS –
HERE’S WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT SEWING CAN BE DANGEROUS AND OTHER SMALL THREADS:
1) “S. R. Mallery is quite simply a master story-teller.”
2) “This is a box of bon-bons, every story an eye-opening surprise. Eat one and you’ll want to devour the whole box.”
3) “An exquisitely crafted, impressive portrayal of life’s journey!”
4) “Women, sewing, history, and storytelling. A quilt of wonderful stories.”
5) “Rich and beautiful stories that will captivate you.”
6) “These stories will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book…”
7) “I was amazed by the variety of stories that took place in various locations, and at different historical times.”
FROM the first story,
“Sewing Can Be Dangerous”
…Saturday, March 25, 1911 started out like so many other days. Sasha woke up in the dark, got dressed with cold, numb fingers, splashed water on her face from the porcelain pitcher and bowl set out on the kitchen table, gently kissed a sleeping Jacob, grabbed a piece of bread she had covered with jam, and let herself out the door. Feeling her way down the pitch-black hallway by running her fingers over the embossed plaster patterns, she almost stumbled on a nail peeking out of a floorboard just before reaching the front door. The gas light in the vestibule had been out for weeks, and their landlord had refused to fix it. She felt tired and depressed, but as bad as conditions were at Triangle Shirtwaist, nothing could compare with being around Moshe, and so taking a deep breath, she gratefully made her way through lower Manhattan to the sewing factory for a day of overtime and its slightly higher pay.
On the sidewalk outside the factory, she caught up with many of the girls with whom she usually worked-three hundred Italian, German, and Yiddish girls, their thread-worn dresses hanging over muddied petticoats and eyes as dark-circled as hers. Trudging up the path, they were all met at the front entrance by Joe Zitto, one of the elevator operators.
“Okay girls, okay. Let’s get goin’. The rest of the building ain’t opened today, so I’m gonna take ya’s up to the 8th, 9th and 10th floors only. Don’t try to go anywheres else for lunch. The doors to the other floors are locked mostly. I guess Old Man Harris don’t want no burglars comin’ in. So, c’mon girls, let’s go.”
Bending over her assigned sewing machine was excruciating. Her entire body ached from the previous day’s abuse; still, she kept working until lunchtime. She was in no mood to socialize-making idle chit-chat was the last thing she wanted to do, but when she retreated to a corner of the factory floor by herself, two of her closest co-workers, Gladie Moskovitz and Irma Delacina, came over to sit beside her.
“What’sa matter wid you today, Sasha?” Irma peered at her friend as she bit down hard on a piece of Italian bread, some crust flipping out of her mouth and onto the floor.
“Yah, you look different. Is evertink all right at home?” Gladie was more privy to Sasha’s problem with Moshe than Irma was.
“I don’t vant to talk about it-sometink did happen, but I not say…” Sasha feared once she started talking, there would be no stopping. Better to keep mute.
In what seemed like a mere five minutes, the whistle blew, followed by numerous deep sighs and groans. Irma threw an arm around Sasha’s shoulder on the way back to their sewing machines, and handing her a delicate-looking locket from around her own neck, told her, “Here, taka dis to wear. It’s a good luck charm necklace. I got it in Italy. If you wear it, maybe you getta good luck from now on.” She leaned over and gave her friend a little kiss on the cheek.
Touched by Irma’s gesture, Sasha instinctively pulled off a little pinkie ring of her own-a small, silver Jewish star pattern with a pink stone in the center. Uncle Samuel had bought it for her the week before at a local flea market, telling her, “Remember, Sashelah, you’re American now, but always, you are a Jewish girl. Never forget the Torah, my child.”
Irma’s mouth curved into a huge grin as she placed the ring on her pinkie finger. Then the two girls gave each other a quick hug before returning to their stations.
The afternoon dragged on. Sasha found that by concentrating only on the rhythm of the sewing machines, she could block out her misery for a while. Closing her eyes and listening intently, she could almost hear the tapping of a marching band: click, click, slam-slam-slam, whoosh-whoosh, rattle-rattle went the machines. Soon, the entire factory room pulsed.
This is going to help our readers to trace you at a click.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule and be a part of A living series talk. Thank you once again for joining us today, Sarah.
Thank you so much for the invite Inderjit.
I would take this opportunity to
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