When brainstorming for a new book idea I like to scour the Internet for interesting stories. Many days dawn turns to dusk as I plunge down the rabbit hole of article after article. One day, I came across a snippet from a book called Nazi Chic that mentioned two girls who were imprisoned in the attic of Hedwig Hoess (the wife of the Commandant of Auschwitz) and forced to make clothing for her and her family using fabric from the very clothing that had been stolen from the prisoners of the camp! Nobody knows the girls’ names or what became of them.
With that story in the back of my mind, I was perusing a thrift shop looking for cool vintage clothes. As I examined the garments I started thinking about the clothing’s backstory. Were these once prized possessions of the former owners? Had somebody scrimped and saved to buy this silk dress? Was this retro coat a beloved anniversary gift?
It was then that the two ideas began to merge and that is how the story of A Promise Stitched In Time (Schiffer Publishing 2018) began.
Here is the blurb from the book:
Promises can be hard to keep, but Maggie McConnell is determined to keep the promise she made to her father before he died. She must win a scholarship to a prestigious art program, but her grief gets in the way as she struggles to find her artistic vision. When Maggie purchases an old tweed coat as inspiration, she never guesses this fur-collared coat will forever change the way she views life and her place in it. The coat awakens her muse, but also awakens something else: Maggie believes its previous owner haunts the coat. Dreams and visions give way to clues from the past, and then a Holocaust victim’s tattoo appears on her arm. With the help of a steampunk-dressing school outcast named Taj, Maggie must decipher what the ghost wants her to discover, and in the process find herself.
Darlene asked me to think of five things a reader should know about my main character.
My main character is Maggie McConnell, an Irish Catholic girl from New Jersey.
She has a sister Patty who is ten months older. Some people call this an “Irish twin.” While her sister is outgoing and popular (and a bit bossy), Maggie is quiet and more of an introvert.
Maggie and Patty’s father has been dead for three years, and the story shows how each of the sisters deals with their grief in different ways.
Maggie is a visual artist and throughout the story the reader sees how Maggie relates to the world through “artist’s” eyes.
Maggie grows more confident as the story progresses. She befriends the school outcast, must solve the mystery of the identity of the ghost who haunts her vintage coat, and she even gets her first kiss.
While the themes in this story may be heavy, I try to keep a balance of lightness and some humor for my middle grade audience. What I would like the reader to take away after reading this book is to consider how we treat others and be active in helping those who are being treated unkindly. This is something we all need to remember in these days and times.
Attention Teachers: a free 42 page downloadable teacher’s guide is available for A Promise Stitched In Time on Colleen’s website!
A Promise Stitched in Time