Button Holed: An Interview With Author Kylie Logan

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Welcome, Kylie. Before we go too much further I ought to point out you’ve been here before under an alias. Now you’ve taken on an entirely new identity? Exactly what are you running from and who’s after you? Are we going to get into trouble for harboring you on this blog and for giving away a copy of the evidence?

Ah, if only my life was that exciting! Actually, I do have two different names I’m writing under right now, but for way more boring reasons. As Kylie Logan, I’m writing the new Button Box mystery series. As Casey Daniels I write the Pepper Martin mysteries. Why the name change? Because there is a paranormal element in the Pepper Martin mysteries (she works in a cemetery and investigates for the ghosts there). The Button Box mysteries, on the other hand, are “straight” cozies. Nothing woo-woo or paranormal, just cozy mysteries.

Years ago you and I went antiquing and saw Mason jars filled with wonderful old buttons. I bought one and still have it in my sewing room–although with fewer buttons since they now adorn a quilt. Did you file away the idea for a button shop then? Or when did the idea occur to you and how did you mold it into a brand new series?

I wish I would have bought a jar of buttons that day, too. Since I’ve started writing the series and have been looking for old buttons, I haven’t found any jars of them anywhere! As for how I got started with the Button Box mysteries .

I’ve always liked old buttons. As Josie Giancola, the heroine of my series says, they’re little bits of history, tiny pieces of art. Like all writers, I look at things like buttons and imagine who owned them and what kind of lives those people had. And buttons really can tell us a lot about the people who owned them: what styles they likes, what their social class was, how they took care of their clothes. There are lots of interesting customs associated with buttons, too. For instance, in the nineteenth century, girls would have photographs of their boyfriends put on their buttons and would wear those buttons on their coats.

That’s a long way of saying that I think buttons are fascinating!

So all that has always been in the back of my mind. Then, a couple years ago, I was up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, having lunch by myself on the front porch of a charming coffee shop. Two people came out to the porch and sat at the table next to me and decided to use that exact moment to break up with each other! They went on and on, and I kept expecting them to apologize. It was obvious I could hear every word they were saying! Well, I finally had enough, and I gathered up my things and headed to the first place I could find, an antique shop nearby. When I opened the door, I saw buttons. Thousands and thousands of buttons! Visiting that antique button shop gave me the idea for the Button Box, the shop my heroine owns. Hers is not in Ann Arbor, but in Chicago, in a converted brownstone.

Tell us about any interesting research you did along the way. Is button collecting really a thriving hobby? Do you have your own collection?

You know, I met a newbie writer recently, and she said something about how easy it must be to write contemporary books because they don’t require any research. Wrong! Every book demands research, and I’ve had fun doing it for the Button Box books. I visited a historic museum in Milan, Ohio that houses a great button collection and the nice folks there let me play with the buttons to my heart’s content. I’ve also assisted on a judging panel at a contest at a button show. Yes, there are button shows. All over the country. And knowledgeable, interesting experts who know everything there is to know about historic buttons. There is a National Button Society for those interested in collecting and according to what I’ve read, button collecting is the third most popular hobby in the country, right after coin and stamp collecting. 

As for a collection of my own, I do have a few buttons, but hardly what I’d call a collection. I’m still at the point of learning which buttons I like the most. There are so many possibilities! Right now, I’m particularly attracted to realistics (buttons that look like real things, i.e, dogs, houses, birds, etc.). I also like black glass buttons, mother of pearl buttons, Bakelite buttons, art glass buttons . . .

In the fabulous review from Blogcritics, the reviewer was particularly pleased that you didn’t let the hobby overtake the mystery. How do you balance the two? Buttons are fascinating, but clearly your mystery and characters are equally so.

That’s the trick, isn’t it? For any writer. We’ve got to take whatever element we think is particularly interesting (like buttons) and put it in a book without it overshadowing the book. I think the trick there is to integrate the two. Buttons are interesting in Button Holed, but they’re only interesting as they relate to the story and because the buttons are vital to the solution to the mystery. If all that button info was just thrown in there for window dressing, it would be an instant invitation to boredom for the reader. A writer’s job is to mix and blend and make sure that the info that is there is important. That’s what gets a reader involved and lets that reader learn a thing or two about buttons along the way.

There’s a rumor making the rounds that Kylie Logan/Casey Daniels/Miranda Bliss/Connie Laux may have come up with yet another fabulous idea. You’re a woman of many talents. Can you give us a sneak peek and tell us when we might see that one on shelves, too?

It’s true, though since I haven’t officially signed the contract yet, I’m not going to reveal too many details. I’ll have a new series starting, probably in 2013. I can tell you the series takes place on an island, and that it involves four women who really (really!) don’t like each other. Ah yes, they will be thrown together and will have to solve mysteries, too. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun to write, but before I can begin book #1, I’ve got Pepper Martin mystery #9 to finish (should be published fall, 2012) and the third book in the Button Box series. The second in the series (title looks like it’s going to change so I won’t tell you the working title) will be out summer, 2012. As for that new series, I’m not sure what name I’ll be using for that one! 

I’ve just bought Button Holed for my eReader and can’t wait to dive in. And one lucky reader who comments on this blog in the next week will be entered in a giveaway for a signed copy of Button Holed, so don’t be shy.  Add your comments or ask your questions here for a chance to win.  As always, random.org will make the selection.

Thanks for being here, Kylie, to tell us about your latest.

43 Responses to “Button Holed: An Interview With Author Kylie Logan”

  1. Liz V. says:

    A friend told me about a button museum in a small town in North Carolina, along the Intracoastal Waterway.

    I never got to see it, as a storm kept us from going that far south. But, maybe someday.

  2. Karen L. says:

    I can’t wait to read the book. Is it going to be available for Kindle?

  3. Margi Borck says:

    I have read all of the Pepper Martin series and love it, can’t wait to read the next one and the new series has got to be just as awesome, putting Button Holed on my 2011 reading list for sure!

  4. Amy Higgins says:

    Can’t wait to read this book!!! My grandmother had a large box full of buttons that I used to love to play with as a little girl and I have that box in my sewing room today!!! (Still love to play with it too!!!) And, to answer a previous commenter, yes!! This IS available for Kindle, which is how I am gonna read mine!

  5. Kay Myhrman-Toso says:

    Loved this interview: can’t wait to read the book! Thank you to both of you! I inherited my mom’s button box and am in the process of creating a wall-hanging sized labyrinth with many of the buttons. Considering the history of buttons and women’s work, it seems appropriate to use the “Dancing Woman” labyrinth pattern. I’m still hunting for the right fabric for the background, which will be secured in a large, round quilt hoop. If “Button Holed” is available on audio, it would be the perfect “read” while creating this labyrinth!

  6. I love this idea, Kay. Would you send us a photo when you complete it?

  7. Kylie says:

    Love these stories about having old buttons. Can’t tell you how jealous I am! I had a few of my grandmother’s old buttons (nothing valuable) and I hot glued them to a little shelf that now hangs in my office. Other than those and a few buttons I’ve picked up at shows, I don’t have a collection.

    And speaking of love . . . must see the labyrinth when it’s done. Walking a labyrinth is one of my favorite things, and if I could do one in buttons . . . catching my breath here!

    Thank you all for your comments and support. And hey, if you want to send along any pictures of odd old buttons (kylielogan@rocketmail.com) I may be able to help you figure out if they’re worth anything.

  8. Kathy Cousins says:

    The book sounds great — I just put in in my Amazon shopping cart. My grandmother used a large Mason jar for her buttons. It now lives in my sewing room. She was a very frugal woman who amassed a LARGE collection of men’s shirt buttons but also had some interesting but not antique ones. Still, the jar never fails to evoke sweet memories of time spent with her.

  9. I am a button fanatic and have collected them all my life I was fortunate enough to inherit my granma’s button tin and old crisco can with no label on it ,,, full of every button off of every piece of clothing the family ever owned when they were growing up and the clothing became cleaning rags.

    I make BeadWoven jewelry using buttons for the clasps mostly glass or “plastic” because it allows people who have allergies to metal to wear jewelry. They are great fun and I just finished making buttons for a local charity to use on fundraiser bracelet.

    My friend and I went through my old buttons the other day and there was this little 1/2 inc opaline glass(1800′s I think) Button of like a bridge and ferris wheel or something, maybe world fair , it is the most amazing little button…but all old buttons are great…

    Can hardly wait to read these books…

  10. Katharine Horn says:

    I like how you got the idea for this book. I look forward to reading it and many more. New series for 2013 sounds intriguing, too!

  11. Kay Myhrman-Toso says:

    I always enjoy connecting with fellow lovers of labyrinths! I will share a picture of my button labyrinth when it is completed…this provides added incentive to get it done! For anyone who is interested, here is the link to the Dancing Woman labyrinth, designed by Lisa Moriarty. http://www.pathsofpeace.com/dancingw.html

  12. I enjoyed the website very much. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Kylie says:

    Have added the pathsofpeace site to my favorites. I’m a weaver, and have thought about doing a labyrinth tapestry. You’ve inspired me!

  14. Mary Ann Gumaer says:

    this all sounds fascinating! Redeems my habit of keeping buttons that adult daughters think is just “cheap mom” at it again. Remember my grandmother’s button box though no idea what happened to it.

  15. I’ve got to say that NOW seems to be a good time to remember all those “cheap mom” tricks and pull them out of hiding.

  16. Kylie says:

    Mary Ann, tell your daughters this story . . . I was a “helper” on a panel at a button contest recently. Mostly, I just sat there listening in awe at all the judges knew. Long story short, there were 18 button on the winning tray (a piece of heavy cardstock used to display buttons is called a tray) of buttons we judged. Estimated value of those buttons? About four thousand dollars. Keeping old buttons isn’t just a sign of being “cheap,” it may be a wise investment!

  17. O Norman says:

    Loved the interview and I’m going to have to look for that series. Maybe I win a copy to start it??

    O Norman
    onorman@wilkes.net

  18. Darla Webb says:

    Loved the interview and I have just gotten back to fiction as I was in constance study for the ministry for 23 years all while being a wife and Mother and homemaker years—I love buttons from my Mother’s huge sack and was lost and I have a tin and a button basket w liner and I would love to know where to puchase both finer buttons and find all kindsof buttons—I have not had much time for shopping for years either because of of study; and I just got on computer last May and love all this and would love to read Button Holed and as for Emilie Richards—-I want to get into all hers also and I love her Sunday poetry—-this is all bring back my long ago loves—great litature, good litature, great reads like The Help, buttons, baskets, the 1936-1949 era—-I was an old soul at age 10 and love ww2 era and history—-I love your sites Emilie and all the new things in my life now too—this has been part of a healing of losing a wonderful daughter in Dec. 2009—remembering all the mid sixty’s of when I raised her each year and still caring for my soon to be 97 years old Mother—this is all a gift to my life!

  19. Thank you, Darla, and my best wishes that you find many things to help you heal.

  20. Sue Goodin says:

    Emilie,
    I love your books.
    It would be an honor to win.
    Thanks for helping us make our lives more enjoyable.

  21. Lisa says:

    I can’t wait to read this book. My mom (deceased) use to collect buttons. My sister and I took some of the buttons an placed them on a quilt that she quilted before she got sick. It turned out really well. Everytime I look at that quilt I think of her an can see her quilting those quilts an cutting off buttons on every piece of old clothing she could find. And her her wonderful laugh. Sweet sweet memories.

  22. That’s a wonderful memento, Lisa.

  23. Betsey Sumners says:

    Button shows? I need to find one of those! I have seen many jars of buttons at the antique/junk stores around me, so come visit Paris, TN or the Murray, Ky area! Looking forward to reading a new cozy mystery series!

  24. Aw shucks, Sue, thank you so much.

  25. Deborah Dumm says:

    Emilie,
    I can’t wait to read this book!!!
    Love all your books!!!!

  26. Kathy in FL says:

    I always cut the buttons off my old clothes before turning them into rags, and have a pretty jar that I keep them all in. I also can’t resist buying buttons that I think are pretty. Thanks for the opportunity to win the book, and if I don’t win, I’ll just have to buy it!

  27. Donna Maine says:

    Love your books! Love the interview and would love to have the book, too!
    Donna in NW FL

  28. Jessika says:

    Love your books Emilie I always feel if I’ve just finished visiting w/some friends when I finish them :) I’ll have to look for the series it sounds great. I never thought of how much history could be in buttons very neat. The 2013 series seems very interesting. Thanks for the interview & giveaway.

  29. Joanne Ayers says:

    Can’t wait to get my hands on this new book and new author to me!

  30. Kylie says:

    I’m having such a good time reading about everyone’s button memories! Funny, one of the reviews for the book mentioned something about what a “narrow” interest buttons are. Not so, if all your comments are to be believed!

    Darla, you asked where to buy buttons. Start with used and antique stores, try online. Lots of outlets.

    As for shows . . . check out the National Button Society website. They have links to all the state button clubs and lots of shows listed there. I know there’s one here in Ohio in April. Looking forward to that one!

  31. Lori says:

    I love hearing about new authors and it will be on my “to read list!” I just bought 3 jars of buttons at the thrift store a few weeks back for my papercrafting hobbies!!! I will be finishing up the first book in Happiness Key series tonight and LOVE it! Went and bought #2 on my lunch break today! Last year the girls in my family didn’t want to exchange tradional Christmas gifts with each other and all of us are avid readers so we each picked out books to pass through our group. My sister bought Iron Lace and Rising Tides. You are an amazing author and am hooked on your books!

  32. Thanks so much, Lori. And you must know ALL of us are coveting those buttons. :)

  33. Kylie says:

    Lori, I’m so jealous of your button find!!!

  34. Michelle Fidler says:

    They sell buttons for use in scrapbooking and I’ve used them for that. I love cozy mysteries. Is there an excerpt available online? I have a couple of your other mysteries (church mysteries) but haven’t read them yet.

  35. I asked Kylie about an excerpt, but there’s not one that she knows of. I write the ministry mysteries, and Kylie/Casey writes about buttons and ghosts. Can you imagine the very odd conversations we have?

  36. Georgia J says:

    I am almost finished reading Button Holed, I am dragging it out. Just want to hang on a little longer as I loved the book so much. The characters are so like real life people. I was at a flea market today and saw a button hook! For real. The man said he really didn’t know what it was, maybe something to do with a candle? Funny! I will be so ready for the next button book.

  37. I loved it, too. Can’t wait for the next one. Great characters.

  38. karen joelson says:

    Can’t wait to read this. I am an avid button collector and have also helped out at the judging tables at National, N.Y and Florida shows. My favorite buttons are black glass set in metal, cut steel and glitz!

  39. Karen, you’ll definitely enjoy this.

  40. June Kosier says:

    As a button collector, I have enjoyed both Button Holed and Hot Button and have purchased the next book in the series.
    Many members of my button club, The Half Moon Button Club, have read or are reading these books.
    However, as a nurse I feel I need to tell Kylie that there is an error on page 217 of Hot Button. Blood pressures are not taken with a finger monitor. Oxygen saturation is checked through a finger device.

  41. Thanks for commenting, June. I know Kylie will be delighted your button club is reading all her wonderful novels. Since I’d heard of finger monitors that measure BP, I trolled the Internet to see if Kylie and I were both wrong. Apparently there are now many finger BP monitors available, even in places like Walmart. I wonder if as a nurse you wouldn’t have used them because they aren’t as accurate? That makes sense to me, but they are definitely out there for us laywomen. Hmmm. . . wonder if I ought to have one available for the days I get revision letters from my editor?

  42. June, I tried to respond to your second comment privately but the email address you gave bounced. The best place to have a conversation about Kylie’s book is with Kylie, because I really can’t speak for her. I can only say how much I love this series.

  43. June Kosier says:

    e-mail fixed.

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