The Sweetgum Knit Lit SocietyThe Sweetgum Knit Lit Society
Beth Pattillo
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On the third Friday of each month, Eugenie, Ruth, Esther, Merry, and Camille meet at the Sweetgum Christian Church to enjoy the two things that connect them: a love of knitting and a passion for books. Their camaraderie remains unthreatened until Eugenie, the town librarian, introduces an angry teenager into their midst. Eugenie also gives them a new reading list: the classic novels of girlhood that young Hannah has never read. Little Women. Pollyanna. Heidi. Books that remind the women of the hopes and dreams they have lost along the way.

With each click of their needles, the ladies of the Knit Lit Society unravel their secrets: A shadow from Eugenie's past haunts the controlled order of her life. Merry's perfect little family is growing again-but will she continue to feel her identity slip away? Camille dreams of leaving town but is bound by ties of love. And the sisters, Ruth and Esther, must confront a lie they have lived with for over thirty years.

As Hannah is reluctantly stitched into their lives, the women discover the possibility that even in sleepy Sweetgum, Tennessee, they can still be the heroines of their own stories.

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 Our Interview with Beth Patillo

How did you come up with the concept for The Sweetgum Knit-Lit Society?

I was fortunate to be part of a wonderful group of knitters at the church where I served as a pastor, so when I started thinking about a new book, I thought of this diverse group of intriguing, engaging women.   I liked the idea of creating a fictional group of women who were different ages and from different backgrounds but who found common ground in their knitting.   I knew I needed a unique twist, though, so I decided to add the book club element.   And, ta-da, The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society was born.

Is this the beginning of a series?

The Sweetgum ladies will have a sequel out in May 2009, tentatively titled The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love.  I hope to continue writing about these wonderful characters.

How long did The Sweetgum Knit-Lit Society  take you to complete?

I wrote three books last year, including The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, so I was very productive.  Luckily, the characters jumped right off the page and made my job much easier.

Do you have a favorite character in The Sweetgum Knit-Lit Society? Why?

Picking a favorite from among these ladies is like trying to choose between your children.  But I do have a soft spot in my heart for the wayward teenager, Hannah.  I like her straightforward, no-nonsense approach to life.
What was the most intriguing fact that you learned while writing The Sweetgum Knit-Lit Society?
I learned how difficult it is to have six heroines in one story!  Some days I wasn’t sure I could get everyone’s lives tangled and then untangled, but it all worked out well in the end.


What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
The most difficult part of writing for me is getting started each day.  I’ve found a number of ways to overcome that obstacle through the years.  Currently, I’m writing most mornings at a nearby Panera Bread.  As my manuscript gets thicker, so does my waistline.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love the creative part of being a writer, when you get to invite your imagination to come out and play.   And I love those times when I get so lost in the writing that I’m not aware of time passing.

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, and then I’ll turn my attention to something a little different, a book about a disgraced Jane Austen scholar who finds the author’s lost letters and must decide whether to publish or perish.  I’ll be traveling with my family to England this summer for research purposes.  I can’t wait!

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

My high school English teacher, Sharon Kingston, gave me an excellent technical grounding as a writer.  I’m forever in her debt.  I’ve been lucky to have a number of mentors and teachers along the way who have helped me improve at each stage.  Also, the Romance Writers of America have been an invaluable source of education and encouragement.

What message would you like your readers to take from The Sweetgum Knit-Lit Society?

I want readers to feel encouraged by these women who face difficulties and overcome them with one another’s help and their faith in God.  I think women are strongest when we’re in relationship with one another.  The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society celebrates those relationships.
What is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievements to date are my children, but I don’t know how much credit I can take for them.  They came into the world as amazing human beings, and I just try not to mess them up too much.  On the writing front, publishing my first novel will always be a shining moment.  Another amazing experience was winning the RITA award in 2006 from the Romance Writers of America for Best Inspirational Romance.  It was my Oscar moment.


What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My mission as a writer is to tell the stories God wants me to tell.  I write in my prayer journal each morning and ask God to guide me in my work.

What do you do to get away from it all?

My most frequent escape is to a local bookstore, but I love going on retreats here in middle Tennessee where I live.  My favorite escape, though, is heading for London, the city of my heart.

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