Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kate Carlisle: Covet thy Neighbor's What?

Hannah here and thrilled to welcome New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle. Kate worked in television, studied acting and singing, toiled in vineyards, collected books, and joined a commune, but it was the year she spent in law school that drove her to write fiction. It seemed the safest way to kill off her professors. Those professors are breathing easier now that Kate spends most of her time writing near the beach in Southern California where she lives with her perfect husband.

Over to you Kate!

Recently, I read an article about a nonfiction book titled The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, which chronicles the misadventures of a man who stole thousands of dollars worth of rare books from booksellers.

The article caught my attention both because I am a passionate bibliophile when it comes to antique books, and because book theft and fraud are integral to my Bibliophile Mysteries series. THE LIES THAT BIND, the third book in the cozy mystery series, was released earlier this month.

I created the Bibliophile Mysteries precisely because I love old books so much, with their lovely leather bindings, the intricate hand-colored artwork, the delicate gilt applied hundreds of years ago. I don’t condone stealing, of course, but a part of me understands the passion behind the theft.

The story got me thinking of the “must-have” gifts of this holiday season. Really? Must have? I don’t usually care to have the same things that every one of my neighbors have. What a boring world it would be if the d├ęcor were identical inside every home. I don’t covet my neighbor’s iPad … but let’s say that same neighbor had a first edition copy of Oliver Twist, a book that drives someone to murder in THE LIES THAT BIND. Ah! Then I might find myself peeking in her window late at night just for a glimpse.

Antiques, whether books or otherwise, appeal to me on an emotional level because they provide a tactile way to connect with the past. These treasures inspire leaps of imagination. One might wonder at the world in which the antique was created. Who made it? Who owned it? What did they think and feel when they looked at the object? What did it mean to them?

Often, antiques are around because they are of such extraordinary quality that their caretakers over the years safeguarded them for future generations. Old world craftsmanship is a pleasure to behold.

I do believe that quality craftsmanship exists today. There still exist artisans who appreciate the importance of fine detail and who would rather do the job right than do it fast. They create the modern day treasures that will be antiques one day because they’re beautiful, and they aren’t mass-produced. And we’ll do our best to keep them safe from children and pets and drunk Uncle Larry and too much sunlight.

I don’t understand the Christmas rush to go out and buy something that anyone can have. I would much rather receive something unique, with a story behind it. Although … an unused iPad in its original packaging will be worth a mint a hundred years from now. Buy one now and resist the urge to open it, and you could pay for your great-grandchildren’s education.

What’s on your wish list this season? If you could have any treasure from any era, what would you want? If you could have any modern gadget or gift that you see advertised in the paper or on TV, what would you want?

By the way, I’m holding a contest for members of my mailing list. One random member will be selected on December 2 to receive a keepsake book with a matching box, both of which I made myself in a recent bookbinding class. Join my mailing list at for a chance to win!

Visit Kate online at and


Hannah Dennison said...

Hi Kate - I always enjoy following your posts. They get me thinking ... and often before coffee! I've always had a hankering for a Georgian partner's desk - I love antique furniture. As for a modern gadget - we really need a decent coffee machine ...

Kate Carlisle said...

Thank you, Hannah! It's so good to be here today. Thank you for hosting me!

Georgian style furniture is so nice. Clean lines, focus on craftsmanship. And yes, a decent coffee machine is a must.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Kate--how fascinating about the man who stole all those books! I can certainly understand that and I identify with your passion for beautiful objects with a history. That's why I love the Antiques Roadshow so much!

The one item I long to own and never will is a gold seal with the family emblem, a unicorn, on it. It's Scottish and probably dates from the era in which I write. Never in my life have I coveted something so much and I'd be jumping out of my skin for joy if I received that in my stocking for Christmas! But at least I know it will be treasured and looked after by family, even if I'm not destined to be the owner.

Maureen Child said...

Hi Kate! Great post, loved it. And I agree, I'd much rather have something small and unique--handmade is the best.

Not fair asking me to think back and pick anything from any time. How could we choose?

Hmm. How about HG Wells' time machine...then I could pop back and forth.

Oh wait. That was fiction, huh? Still, it'd be fun.

Nancy said...

Kate, what a fun idea, and so seasonally appropriate! Picking any item from any era is hard for a history geek like me, but I'll give it a try.

I have a very old book, a collection of poems and short essays, that belonged to my grandmother when she was a child. My grandfather had it re-bound in library binding for me, probably not realizing he took a chunk out of its value, but I love it as a family memento. Still, I'd want something easy to care for, which pares the list a bit.

I'd love any little doo-dad that belonged to Abigail Adams or Elizabeth one. Jewelry would be nice, but I'm not picky.

Joan of Arc's sword might be nice.

One of Shakespeare's quills.

Florence Nightingale's lamp.

Henry V's sword.

The manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories, which helped inspire the formation science fiction fandom.

See, even narrowed down, I can't pick. *sigh*

I LOVED The Lies That Bind. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Christine, I love Antiques Roadshow, too! Have you ever watched the British version on BBC America? I think the Brits would scoff at what we Yanks call "antiques." I once saw an episode where a man found a coin in his garden that was from ancient Roman times! How incredible would that be? (I would love to own that coin!)

Kate Carlisle said...

Maureen, Thanks so much for stopping by! A time machine would be fun, as long as there was no chance of being stuck in an era without running water. LOL I do love to be clean and to be surrounded by clean people.

Donis Casey said...

Hi, Kate. Can't wait to read "The Lies That Bind". My weakness is paintings of any ilk, especially primitives and early American miniatures. Some day, some charming watercolor I pick up at an estate sale may end up being worth money, who knows. Until then, every piece I own is only worth something to me.

Kate Carlisle said...

Nancy, thank you so much! I'm delighted that you enjoyed THE LIES THAT BIND. I've gotten some terrific reviews, which is so nice.

I love that you know the specific issue of Amazing Stories that inspired sci-fi fandom. I'm going to try to remember that in case I ever spot that issue in an antique store. Wouldn't that be fun?!

Christine Wells said...

Kate, in Australia, the one we mainly get is the English Antiques Roadshow. Yes, it would be amazing to find a Roman coin! My favourite was the man who had Lawrence of Arabia's flying watch and didn't even know it. He had a repair receipt made out to T.E. Lawrence and had no idea what he owned.

Nancy said...

Kate, I know the specific issue of Amazing Stories only because I teach a science fiction course. If you ever see that one in an antique shop, for cheap, you should snatch it up. I have no idea what it's worth, but I assume it would be quite a lot.

Kate Carlisle said...

Donis, there's something so charming about anything in miniature, particularly when it's handcrafted. Did you know there's a whole group of devotees to miniature quilts? They're very intricate and detailed, and they can be gorgeous.

PinkPeony said...

Hi Kate!

I'd love to start collecting first editions of books, but I'm afraid once I get know! The shallower part of me has always coveted the Mark Cross bag overnight case Grace Kelly used in "Rear Window". I'm giving away "The Lies That Bind" for holiday gifts.

Kate Carlisle said...

Christine, O... M... G!!! That would be incredible. What a discovery! He must have felt lightheaded when they told him.

Kate Carlisle said...

Pink, Awwwwwwww! Thank you! That's so sweet that you're giving away THE LIES THAT BIND for the holidays. I'd be happy to send you some signed bookplates. Just send an SASE to the address below and let me know how many you'd like. (That offer is good for everyone!)

Kate Carlisle-bookplates
2633 Lincoln Boulevard, No. 322
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Kate. Dear Heavens - thinking of Christmas already? I'm still recouping from Thanksgiving.

I'm not a big one for "store-bought goods" - new or old. My thing is memories. My wish list is for trips to various destinations so I can make memories. Most of the things in my house have some personal story attached to it - memories. LOL - I guess that's why I write historicals...memories.

I do have one hand-colored, gilted page, leather bound first edition (sadly not of Oliver Twist). Should it disappear, dear Kate, I'll know who to call. (grin)

Jen Lyon said...

Kate, I'd love to have something truly unique, like say...your talent in writing? I love your books! Okay I know that was cheating, but really, you are so talented!

This is one of those years where I don't have much on my wish list...just want all my family and friends to be healthy and happy. But I have to say, my youngest son has a knack for figuring out what people would truly love and getting it for them. I would love to have that talent too!

Kate Carlisle said...

Donna, memories are more precious than any tangible gift! I promise I won't steal your book, but if you see smudge marks on your window that look suspiciously like hands and a nose, you'll know I visited it. ;)

Kate Carlisle said...

Jen, You are the sweetest person! Thank you!

How nice that your son has such empathy that he's able to find great gifts for the people he cares about. That says a lot about his character.

Kate Carlisle said...

Thank you so much, everyone! I've had a lot of fun here today. Happy holidays!