Friday, October 22, 2021

Literary Sewing Circle: Author Feature

Today's the day to talk about the author of our pick for this round of the #LiterarySewingCircle! Simone St James has written 7 books, and has another (The Book of Cold Cases) releasing early in 2022. Her debut novel The Haunting of Maddy Clare won 2 RITAs and a best first novel award from Crime Writers of Canada.

Most of her stories focus on women in spooky situations -- lots of supernatural elements in all of the books in some way, and usually a romantic thread, although in The Sun Down Motel, there's not much romance, but much more focus on the women in the book themselves. But if you like spooky reads, any of her books are definitely in the genre. 

St. James is very interested in ghost stories and true crime, which shows in this book. You can sense this trend in her social media accounts, and also through this list of 5 suggested reads that she shared with the blog SheReads! 

If you're interested in learning a bit more about this book and the author's thoughts on it, check out this interview with Hank Garner on Youtube.


While none of the characters in her books are full-time seamstresses, there are a lot of mentions of clothing and, in her historical settings, references to sewing and mending in places. 

Here are a couple of quotes about those things - the first seems particularly suitable for a sewing readalong ;)


To find out more about Simone St. James, check her out online: 





  1. The author talk was an interesting insight into the thoughts of a new author. Regarding the Sun Down Motel - I was intrigued by her comment that Viv was a much darker character than Carly. I hadn't considered that, and yet I can see it is possible.

    I thought there was a great deal of description of clothes in this book. Simone did not mention this in her discussion, maybe because it was not for a purpose other than setting the scene each time. But I read the e-book from the library, and when I was trying to find a paragraph I had read earlier I did a search for the word 'shirt' - 51 times a shirt is described! What sort of shirts? - pale yellow collared, baggy grey sweatshirt, black t-shirt, white shirt, unbuttoned shirt, blue plaid flannel shirt, dark gray t-shirt, t-shirt with colours splashed brightly, worn thin t-shirt, white t-shirt cut loosely, t-shirt with no jacket, gingham shirt, long waisted black and white t-shirt, light shirt, roomy t-shirt, dress shirt, rolled up dress shirt, sweat shirt, faded t-shirt, button down shirt ...... and many of them repeated. But that is only one item of clothing which is of some significance for the story line. I hadn't realised e-books even had this function, and I am not really sure of the importance or significance, but oddly it interested me. I guess it is often said that people make assumptions about us from the first glance at the clothes we wear, and in this case as readers, we are making assumptions about characters based on the description of what they are wearing, the colour, the fit ....

    I really should have gone with making a shirt for my 'make' after all this study of shirts, and in a way I am - I am making a shirtdress from the 80's. Betty wore a dress (not a shirtdress, but poetic licence is ok), was it blue or purple, did it have flowers - I am working on all this.

    1. Interesting what your search for 'shirt' brought up! I hadn't thought of using the ebook that way, but wow, how convenient :) I agree that the clothing descriptions in the book serve to ground the characters in their physical presence, more than as symbolic imagery. A shortcut to the kind of person they are, like you mention.

      I'll be interested to see your dress. I admit that the purple and blue floral of Betty's dress was a strong image in the book -- hope yours works out and you don't spook yourself working on it!

  2. I finally listened to the podcast yesterday, and thought it was very interesting as well. Melanie, I really appreciate the references!

    Sara, your list of shirts in the book is fascinating! I think the clothes worn by most of these characters are very everyday (as in not high fashion), yet when you pile up all the references to shirts you get a real sense of the variety of options available in the two time periods. I wonder if I remember correctly that Betty's dress was described as a floral wrap dress? If so, then I think one of the 1970s Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress patterns (or any one of the many variations) would be a great starting point. I also remember wearing shirt dresses in the 70s and 70s.

    As to Viv being a darker character, or making darker decisions - I really thought that she became quite mad through the story. Sleep deprivation and isolation can do that to you!

    1. I find that hearing the author talk about their book can sometimes bring new things to my attention that I hadn't considered, too -- like that Viv was so much darker. She definitely felt "older" than Carly to me, although they were both close to the same age when they were working at the Sun Down. Perhaps that's partly the 80s and how you grew up fast...

      I hadn't really thought about the strong influence of sleep deprivation and isolation in Viv's trajectory, but you are so right. Definitely part of her obsessions!

  3. Mary that is so true!! I didn't actually consider 'quite mad', but she did become over the top obsessed (although with a good reason), but why her? And yes, as an ex-night shift worker, I agree about the sleep deprivation and how it can affect you.

    Yes, it was a floral wrap dress, but I am trying the shirt dress. (Although I tried it on in the early stages of pinning it together and my daughter said it reminded her of my mother's summer house coat type thing for over a night dress, which is not the look I am going for!) Unfortunately, lacking a waist, wrap over's don't really suit me. So I am just going with the word 'dress'. Which after all, I have not worn for about 20 years.

    1. Haha, daughters can be so encouraging ;) I'm sure it will turn out, and it's great to try something you haven't made in a long time. I still haven't decided on my final project!


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!