The Deb Ball welcomes Jennifer Chiaverini!

We are thrilled to welcome guest author Jennifer Chiaverini to our ball this week! Jennifer is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as five collections of quilt patterns inspired by her novels. Her original quilt designs have been featured in Country Woman, Quiltmaker, Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volumes 3-5, and Quilt, and her short stories have appeared in Quiltmaker and Quilters Newsletter. She has taught writing at Penn State and Edgewood College and designs the Elm Creek Quilts fabric lines from Red Rooster Fabrics. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. A most wonderful city for quilting and writing both!

We invited Jennifer to take the Deb Interview and she graciously agreed. So without further ado, here’s Jennifer:
Which talent do you wish you had?

I wish I could draw! I manage well enough drawing quilts, quilt blocks, and patterns using Adobe Illustrator, but I wish I could also sketch people, landscapes, and buildings with pencil and paper. I’d love to be able to complement the descriptions of characters and settings in my novels with my own illustrations, but sadly, that’s beyond my abilities.

What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?

The easiest thing about my job is my commute. After having breakfast, sending the kids out to meet the school bus, and pouring myself a second cup of tea, I simply walk down the hallway to my office and get to work. The most difficult aspect of my job is the book tour. As lovely as it is to meet readers, booksellers, and librarians from across the country—and it is, very much—it’s difficult for my family, and for me, when I’m away from home so long. That’s why it’s especially important for readers to come out to my events, to remind me how important and worthwhile it is for me to go out on the road.

What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?

Sunblock with a high SPF, lots of water, and a satellite phone so I could summon a rescue team.

Has anyone ever thought a character you wrote was based on them?

My grandmother thought that Sylvia Bergstrom Compson was based upon her, and I discovered her misunderstanding at a rather awkward moment. The Quilter’s Apprentice had just been published, and my book tour had brought me to one of my favorite bookstores, Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, the city where I was born. My grandmother sat proudly in the front row, and as I was preparing for my reading, I overheard her say to the woman seated beside her, “The main character, Sylvia, is based upon me, but I never made a quilt in my life!” I was very surprised to hear that—and a little dismayed, because Sylvia was not based upon my grandmother. She seemed so proud, though, that afterward, I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. Instead, when I had the opportunity to introduce new characters in my third novel, The Cross-Country Quilters, I decided to model a new character upon her. I assumed that she would read the book and recognize herself, because there were several important clues: My grandmother’s name was Virginia, but most people called her Ginny; the character was named Lavinia, but she went by Vinnie. Both Ginny and Vinnie were born in Cincinnati. My grandmother lost her mother when she was only five years old, and so did the fictional character. My grandmother had a brother named Hank, and Vinnie had a brother named Frank—let’s just say that I thought the similarities were unmistakable, but they escaped my grandmother’s notice. Of course, she thought she was Sylvia, and so she wasn’t looking for herself in other characters. I admit I never did tell her the truth.

What’s your next big thing?

Within the next year, the nineteenth and twentieth Elm Creek Quilts novels, Sonoma Rose and The Giving Quilt, will be released in paperback. My next novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, will be published in January 2013. I absolutely loved researching and writing this book, and I hope my readers will be as captivated as I was by the life of Elizabeth Keckley, the former slave who became the dressmaker and trusted confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln. In Fall 2013, Plume will publish a reader’s guide to the Elm Creek Quilts series, An Elm Creek Quilts Companion, which will include character biographies, a Bergstrom family tree, descriptions of significant places and things, illustrations of quilt blocks, an interview with the Elm Creek Quilters, and a few other reference tools readers have told me they’d like to have at their fingertips. While writing the Companion, I’ve enjoyed reading through all twenty of the Elm Creek Quilts novels, revisiting favorite settings and tracing the winding paths my characters have followed through the years. It’s been quite a journey for me as well.

Thank you for making the Debutante Ball part of your journey, Jennifer. We wish you happy stitching, touring and writing… and a mild Wisconsin winter!

Keep up with Jennifer online here and don’t miss any of her upcoming releases or tour dates!

Find THE GIVING QUILT on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or at your local bookstore.

Jennifer has generously offered to send a signed copy of THE GIVING QUILT to one of our lucky commenters (U.S. addresses only)! For a chance to win, leave a comment below.


57 Replies to “The Deb Ball welcomes Jennifer Chiaverini!”

  1. With the release of the Reader’s companion guide does that mean the last of the Elm Creek Quilters book has been written? I’ve not read the last 5 or so….but they are lovely series of books, and I should really finish them up!! I look forward to the new book.

  2. Anita, if this means anything, my original subtitle for AN ELM CREEK QUILTS COMPANION was “A Reader’s Guide to the First Twenty Novels.” 🙂 I’m not planning to end the series, but there are other stories I want to write, including MRS. LINCOLN’S DRESSMAKER. In the years to come, if the story I want to write fits within the series, it will be an Elm Creek Quilts novel. If it doesn’t, then it will be a stand alone novel. Thanks for your question!

  3. I’m looking forward to reading The Giving Quilt next week after its release. I’ve truly enjoyed reading each and every one of The Elm Creek Quilts books. I’m hoping there will be more to come.

  4. It was nice to read Jennifer’s blog and find out some interesting information about one of my favorite authors. I love the Elm Creek series and anticipate each book. I also look forward to reading her new book in January.

  5. I wish my commute was as so short. I enjoy Jennifer’s sense of humor, the satellite phone was good. Look forward to the new book and the companion guide, great idea.

  6. Jennifer, I so look forward to reading Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. I am interested in how you bring your style forward into a piece of historical fiction. I have loved all of your books and never want each one to end. That is my only complaint about your books is that they end and then I have too long to wait for the next one to come out! I see your book tour will bring you not to far from Atlanta this time. I hope I will be able to get there.

  7. Only a few more days until the Giving Quilt is out- can’t wait! Jennifer, your novels keep getting better and better, it’s always nice to have another Elm Creek Quilt book to look forward to.

  8. Such great interview questions. I am looking forward to reading Mrs.Lincoln’s Dressmaker. I really enjoy historical fiction.

  9. My only problem with the books is that I can’t put it down once I start reading one! I keep telling myself, “One more chapter and then lights out”, next thing I know it is 1:00am and I have reached the end of the book! I am looking forward to the next books, thanks Jennifer for the wonderful engaging stories that keep us coming back for more.

  10. I have so enjoyed each and everyone of your books. I am looking forward to ready the Giving Quilt. I truly needed to read slower or you need to write faster LOL. I become so involved in the book that I could easily forget to cook dinner.

  11. I enjoyed reading your answers to the questions. Looking forward to Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker. And also to many more Elm Creek novels. I have enjoyed each and every one.

  12. I love your Elm Creek series,Jennifer. The way you write makes me fill like I am right there. I can visualize everything that they are doing and feeling. Love your work!

  13. I am so glad that a local bookstore introduced me to a “Wisconsin author” with the first of the Elm Creek Quilts books. Thanks for sharing part of who you are here!

  14. Thanks so much for the knterview! I too love each and every book and the group of ladies that meeting my shop weekly often discuss the comings and goings od the Elm Creek ladies. Love all the books!!!

  15. Love the story about your grandmother! I will have to re-read Cross Country Quilters so I can get to know her better. I love taking the journeys with each of your characters and look forward to every book you write.

  16. I love your books and have read them all! Every once in a while, I borrow them all from the library at once and read them in order! I’m looking forward to your “Companion” book.

  17. I have enjoyed each of your books. I am looking forward to the next ones. Loved the story about your grandmother. Reading your interview was fun.

  18. I found out, Jennifer, that you and I have something in common — we both were born in Cincinnati. I hope you continue your book tours as I keep waiting for one to come near Tampa, FL. I have introduced the Elm Creek series to my mother and some other friends and use some of the novels in my Fashion and Costume Design classes. Mom and I were going to come to your Georgia tour stop, but since it is midweek I would need to take two days off work. I was trying to figure out how to make it a professional development activity so my principal would give me the time off. Anyway, the Companion book sounds awesome. I can hardly wait. I own your entire series and am currently counting down the days to “The Giving Quilt.” I can’t remember how I got started on the first book, but I am so glad I did. It is wonderful to find an author who can reach the interests of so many and not use some of the gorey and inappropriate material some other authors use to get readers. Your novels are a blessing. I hope there are many more to come.

  19. Thanks for the interview with Jennifer. I have read all of her books numerous times. I can’t wait for the Giving Quilt to come out next week. I’m also really looking for to Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker even though there will not be a visit to the Bergstroms. I found it so interesting that her grandmother decided she was the inspiration for Sylvia and it’s too funny that she doesn’t see herself in Vinnie even though Jennifer used so many hints and clues.

  20. I love your Elm Creek series and read them as soon as they come out. Then of course I have to share them with my Quilty Friends!
    We all love them! I hope that you continue to write them for years to come. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into your writing. Hopefully some day you will be signing books somewhere near Shelbyville, IN !!

    Congratulations on your success you have an amazing talent!


  21. My name is also Sylvia…but ive just started quilting. ive read all jennifers books but the last two. I also thought I was Sylvia in her books!!!!

  22. It is my favorite series of books. Jennifer is amazing as you feel connected to each character. I have a feeling some day she will conquer the drawing part with her innate talent. Keep reading. You are the best Jennifer.

  23. I bought Jennifer’s first book for my Mom, and then read it myself. I’m hooked, I’ve read them all as soon as they are released! Love the characters and the stories twists and turns. Can’t wait for the next one.

  24. A friend gave me my first Elm Creek book as a Christmas gift, and I was hooked! I have the entire series, as well as all the pattern books. I’ve become involved with two on-line groups working on various of the quilt projects. While I wish there was a real Elm Creek retreat, these groups are the next best thing. So excited about the new books, and can’t wait to begin reading them. Thanks, Jennifer, for the compelling, moving books.

  25. Always waiting with anticipation for the next book from Elm Creek quilting and hope someday to go to a retreat like they offer.

  26. I have lost count of how many times I have read and reread all of the books. They have helped through some really tough times. As the full time caregiver for my mother for the last 6 years of her life there were times that for sheer joy I would pick up one of Jennifers books and just start reading. They enabled me to live in another time or place for a few minutes and still be able to be on hand for Mom. Thank you for writing and I’m looking forward to your new book as a Christmas present form someone in my family.

  27. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing more insight into your books. I am waiting on pins and needles (if you will) for the release of “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” as historical fiction is one of my weaknesses. Each of your novels of the Elm Creek Series has been a delight and I look forward to as many more as you wish to write. Each provides such a warm look into the lives of your characters. Can’t wait for “The Giving Quilt”, too….just a few days away.

  28. Jennifer,

    I so love your books. After reading 1 I was hooked and eventually became hooked on quilting. I now look at any piece of fabric (which I have 4totes and 2 legal size file cabinets full of and still adding to) to decide what quilt I want to make with it. What was your inspiration for Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker? I can’t wait to get it and read. My friend and I see who can get your next book first to read.

    I have really enjoyed your interview. Thank you.

  29. I just love Jennifer Chiaverini’s books and I am sad when I finish one. I am always looking forward to her next book so I can engross myself with the Elm Creek quilters. I almost feel like I am a member of the Elm Creek Quilt Guild.

  30. What a lovely interview to read. I enjoy Jennifer’s books because the background is always so well researched. So once again I’m looking forward to reading a bit about American history through the eyes of ordinary people. Thank you Jennifer for these enjoyable novels.

    Cecile in Ireland

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