Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Betty Hechtman is not only a talented writer of crochet mysteries but a lovely person as well. How do I know that; when I’ve only briefly met her recently at a needle work show? Recently we had a phone conversation that lasted for over an hour; it was like having a crochet friend over for coffee. I was so excited about our interesting conversation that I sat down immediately to capture my impressions about her fascinating career!
A native Chicagoan, Betty has lived in LA since 1970, but she still has strong ties to the South Side of Chicago and returns here about every 6 weeks. She has a degree in Fine Arts from Roosevelt University in Chicago (also my daughter’ alma mater) where she wrote for the school newspaper. Betty told me that she wanted to write since she was a child. Before writing her first book in 2006, Blue Swartz and Nephritides’ Necklace, a kids’ mystery, she had experience writing for newspapers, magazine, short stories and scripts. In her first career, she worked for the family business.
Betty came by her writing skills honestly;her father was a writer, as well. “My father taught me how to submit my ideas,” Betty recalls. “He also taught me to accept ‘rejection!’” Betty now has 8 books in her Crochet Mystery series and 1 in her Yarn Retreat Mystery series with contracts for 3 more books! I love the sense of humor that she brings to the titles, i. e. “If Hooks Could Kill,” “Behind the Seams,” and “Dead Men Don’t Crochet”! Stay turned to my blog to read my review of her newest crochet mystery, If Hooks Could Kill.
When I asked Betty what it was about the topic of crochet that motivated her to include it so prominently in her mysteries, she replied, “I’ve had a life-long fascination with crochet and as a child I loved granny squares. I sewed all my life and my mother was an excellent seamstress. Once I bought a vintage granny store afghan in a resale shop and I was so intrigued to figure out how it could have all those spaces without collapsing!
At that point, I taught myself how to do single crochet. The ‘ah-ha’ moment came, though, in 2005 when I was in Las Vegas. As I walked through the shopping mall of one of the large hotels, I went into FAO Schwartz store because I love toys. As I passed through the aisle, the ‘Golden Door of Crochet’ opened for me. Right there at eye level was a kit, Learn to Make Granny Squares. There was no hesitation; I had to buy it and learn to make my beloved granny squares!”
Soon after, Betty took a crochet class at Michael’s and her crochet journey began. “At that time,” Betty recalls, “my agent had a client who was having great success with a knitting series. She suggested I mix my interest in crochet with my mystery writing. I figured it would be a great way to learn more about crochet, and the rest is history!”
Betty explained to me where she conjures up her characters, “They come from real life. I may have a vision in my head from my imagination, but then I’ll see someone on the street and recognize that this is the character I was imagining. I also conceive a lot of my characters from my gym. It is for women only and my exercise class has mirrors on the wall. I can watch many in the class and they have no clue that I am scoping out their attributes which may turn into one of my characters. I can also watch people working out on the machines through the glass wall and they contribute some great material!"
It is, indeed, an honor to have such a celebrated author dedicate her writing talents to the exclusive topic of crochet; and she does so in a friendly bi-stitchural manner touching on knitting along the way. Not only do readers receive a great story when they buy one of her crochet mysteries, but Betty also includes old family recipes and a free crochet pattern or two at the conclusion of her books. She says that as a child she sewed doll clothes and those skills translated to her abilities to design crochet patterns. I am proud to count Betty Hechtman among the members of the Crochet Guild of America.