Summit Right Brain: Dillon writer Rhonda Cratty talks about her first novel, ‘Our Family Quilt: The Fabric of Life’ | SummitDaily.com

Summit Right Brain: Dillon writer Rhonda Cratty talks about her first novel, ‘Our Family Quilt: The Fabric of Life’

Christina Holbrook
Special to the Daily

Rhonda Cratty had a full career teaching elementary school. "I enjoyed it, loved it, loved even the last day," she said. But when the time came for her to retire, she knew, "it was time for me, now, to go into my creative life."

She and her husband had a home in Dillon, and began coming up to the mountains from Arvada more regularly. A book had been brewing in her head, a novel that would stitch together a lifetime of experiences spent with family and friends, and a growing up that included a mother who loved to sew and a grandmother who created quilts.

Hiking, poking around the small shops in downtown Frisco, gazing out at the beautiful view across Lake Dillon provided the inspiration for Cratty's first novel, "Our Family Quilt: The Fabric of Life," which takes place in the fictional Colorado town of Summit. "Our Family Quilt" was just released on Dec. 1 and is available at Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco, and on Amazon.com.

Cratty's novel delves into the relationships between the generations, and explores the setbacks and disappointments as well as the celebrations of life. Her main character is Grace, a master quilter, who shares her creative gifts with her young granddaughter Audrey.

During my conversation with Cratty, I was surprised to discover that she was not a quilter herself — at least not when she first began writing the book.

Summit Daily News: So you'd never quilted before?

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Rhonda Cratty: No, I didn't know how to quilt. So I went to quilting class, and stopped at quilting shops. I walked into a quilting guild and the speaker was so encouraging. And I fell in love with the art of quilting. The needle became my pen and the thread became my ink. The quilt on the cover of the book is my very first quilt.

And on another level, quilting is a metaphor. The book is about the pieces of a lifetime, the relationships, the different times in one's life. All being sewn and patched together.

SDN: You've also mentioned that this is a book about contemporary women. Tell me a little bit about what you mean.

RC: The women in the book are the women we are today, in our society. We are taking care of our family, we work, we have passions, we have friends. The book is also about contemporary women making quilting an art form. Once, women made quilts for warmth, for necessity. Today, we have comparatively more leisure time. Around the time of the bicentennial, women artists began making quilts as pieces of art. In the 1980s the tools for making quilts evolved. And today quilting is part of contemporary women's creativity.

SDN: Writers often have very set schedules, and ways they like to work. Did you create a certain routine in order to write your book?

RC: I do have an office in Arvada, where I write. But a lot of the book was written up in Dillon, overlooking the lake. I write where I am. I get inspired with life. If I am at home I get up and write first thing in the morning. And then I'll quilt. And while I'm quilting, drawing that pattern with my thread, "bing," I'm getting ideas. So I might run back downstairs and write.

SDN: What about support for your writing? Who gives you feedback or constructive criticism?

RC: My husband is very, very supportive. While I was writing the book, we stopped at every quilting show, every quilting shop. And although this is a woman's book, my husband read through it and was my sounding board. He gave me a lot of love and support throughout the project.

SD: Many people think, "I'd like to write a book!" What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

RC: I think you have to be open. With "Our Family Quilt," I was watching the 4th of July parade in Frisco, taking it all in — and that scene came out in the book. You have to be open to everything that is happening around you, and have lots of adventures. Every adventure has the potential to be something to write about.

SD: What's coming next?

RC: I'm already at work on a sequel to "Our Family Quilt," which will also take place in my fictional town of Summit.

GET THE BOOK

“Our Family Quilt: The Fabric of Life,” was released on Dec. 1 and is available at Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco, and on Amazon.com