M.: I have always wanted to learn to knit. Do you actually knits yourself and if so, do you do it with a special group of ladies?
KJ: I do knit, and think it’s good fun, so I encourage you to pop down to your local yarn shop and give it a try! But we all have different passions, and I like to be clear than I’m a writer who knits and not a knitter who writes. This means that my main craft is writing, and knitting is just a hobby. So while knitting is prominent in some of the books I write, I also explore different characters and themes and backdrops in other stories. Personally, when it comes to my knitting, I prefer to do easy projects on large needles – I find that helps me stretch out my wrists after typing a great deal – and just relax. I’m all about knitting being soothing and I’m not looking to be like Georgia or Anita and become a master knitter!
M.: What was it about writing the first book that made you want to continue writing the series?
KJ: You know, after I wrote The Friday Night Knitting Club, I actually needed to take a break from these characters because of the intensity of the storyline. And so I worked on Comfort Food, which is a novel about the host of a TV cooking show who has to deal with various personal and professional conflicts while also rediscovering romance. It’s a broadly comedic book and allowed me to recharge. So much so that I was renewed and eager to return to the knitting club, and so I wrote Knit Two, which picks up with the group about five years after the end of the first book. Then,I planned to write another new book with different characters after the sequel, but I had more to explore and so marched right on to Knit the Season. This third book in the FNKC series is truly the celebratory storyI’ve wanted to write for quite a while — I just had to get the women to the point in their lives where they were ready to embrace their bliss.
M.: Is there a certain character that you really identify with or is there one that is (loosely) based on yourself?
KJ: In general, I don’t base my characters on real people, though sometimes I will find personality quirks from people who’ve passed away sneaking into my characters. (Gran, Dakota’s great-grandmother in Scotland, is a good example as she has much in common with my own grandmother.) But the exception to the rule is me, I suppose: I am in all of the characters and yet I am none of the characters. Not one character is exactly me and yet bits and pieces of my personality or opinions are woven throughout the story. That said, I intentionally drew heavily on my teenage self to write Darwin’s personality in the early chapters of The Friday Night Knitting Club, especially in the way she’s so adamant she knows what is what and that knitting is a throwback. Of course, by the end of the book, she’s had to reconsider many of her preconceived notions! You see, like a lot of teens, I thought I knew everything and so I refused to learn how to knit from my grandmother. What a regret! I didn’t learn how to knit until a few years after my grandmother had passed away and I was never able to share it with her. So the original FNKC, with one of its core theme being about getting past regret to forgiveness, is also about me working through some of my own experiences. So while I definitely do not write autobiographical fiction, I do tend to explore themes that resonate with me personally.
M.: I, too, am from Western Canada near Vancouver. When you were young,did you find any inspiration from your home town that made you want to become a writer?
KJ: Well, I can assure you that lots of interesting things happened (and continue to happen) in Hope, though none of that has found its way into my novels. Yet! But you never know: I have long thought the time is coming for me to write a story set in a small town. But we’ll see. Of course,Hope – and BC overall – is absolutely gorgeous. The scenery is inspirational by itself. I love to be up there, and in fact finished both the drafts of Knit Two and Knit the Season while visiting my parents. So obviously something works for me when I’m in my hometown! Also, I found inspiration when I was young in the form of support from some wonderful teachers and,in the case of my Grade 8 English teacher, was encouraged to enter short story contests. That nudging proved to be crucial because it allowed me to believe that even a small-town girl could be a writer.
M.: Are you going to stop at three books or can we expect another book in this series? Or perhaps you would like to share something else you have in the works?
KJ: I aim to take things as they come – I certainly see lots of possible storylines and futures for the members of The Friday Night Knitting Club –but I also find it crucial to stay fresh creatively. So sometimes I want to write about one group of characters, and other times I try something different. My current project is a novel titled Relativity, about relatives and relationships and identity and expectations, and I’ve justbeen nibbling away at the chapters. I expect to be finished soon and thenI’ll figure out what comes next. It could be anything! And it’s that sense of the unexpected that keeps me excited and eager to be at my computer.
I normally stay away from ‘holiday’ themed books, but when I read Kate’s bio, and found out she was from small BC town not far from my own, I decided to give it a shot. I really am glad I did and my only regret is that I didn’t read the first two books in the series first.
She really brings the warmth of the season, the celebration of family and friends, and of course, knitting, to life on the pages of her book, Knit the Season. Because I didn’t read the other books, I appreciated how multi-dimensional the characters in the book are. It helped at times when I felt a bit confused about the back story. ALL the players in the story seemed like real people to me and I could almost imagine being in the midst of their company – they made me feel comfortable.
If you have a friend who loves to read or knit or both, this series is the perfect Holiday gift. They will enjoy, as I did, the knitting patterns and recipes (such as Bess’ Butter Tarts and Dakota’s Thanksgiving Pumpkin Spice Muffins) at the end of the book. Those little extras are a really nice touch and it makes the characters more real!