Chiaverini supports Project Linus by letting readers chose the twins’ gender

Jennifer Chiaverini signs books after the Midwest Writing Center luncheon in Davenport, Iowa.

Jennifer Chiaverini is as civically minded as the characters in her book.

At the Midwest Writing Center luncheon in Davenport, Iowa, Chiaverini joked about how readers were just dying to know the gender of Sarah’s twins and that Sarah’s pregnancy was really just a regular nine-month gestation period, even though she’s been pregnant for several novels.

So Chiaverini put the genders of the twins to a vote. Her loyal readers could stitch a twin star block in pink for two girls, in blue for two boys and in purple for one of each. The blocks would then be used to construct quilts for Project Linus, an organization that provides blankets and quilts to children who are seriously ill or traumatized.

The blocks were due on Labor Day, I know, Chiaverini made a joke of that too. Fans could vote as many times as they wanted. Many submitted three blocks, one made in each color because they wanted to participate but didn’t want to sway the vote because they knew there would be some readers who would really care.

They were right.

Another woman submitted more than 250 blue blocks. Chiaverini said she was tempted to sway the voting so the woman’s hard work would be rewarded, but said she was too honest and would have ended up giving Sarah another set of twins to make it right.

In the end readers decided Sarah’s twins would be a boy and a girl and about 40 quilts were made for Project Linus.

Chiaverini’s charitable passions will be evident in the twentieth book in the Elm Creek Quilts series, “The Giving Quilt.” The book will feature Elm Creek Quilt Camp during the winter when campers are invited to come and quilt free of charge for one week, but everything they work on will be donated to charity.

Chiaverini has started the book and would like it to come out in 2012, but does not have a contract yet for it to be published. She said a lot rides on the success of “The Wedding Quilt,” so if you like the Elm Creek Quilts novels and want to see more of them, go buy the book and check her out on tour. Here’s a link to the dates in her current tour.

Other ideas she’d like to explore in future novels include what happens with Dorthea after the Civil War, what happens to Elizabeth once they finally have a ranch of their own, another Hawaiian quilt book and a guide to the series that would feature character descriptions, quilt blocks from each of the novels and other pertinent information that readers who have read all 18 books in the series might not remember.

“I always have more ideas than I have time to write them,” said Chiaverini.

And if you’re like person in the audience yesterday who asked if Chiaverini could write the books at a faster pace (she put out two novels and a pattern book last year which is probably more than enough by most standards) Chiaverini’s next novel “Sonoma Rose” is due out in February.

It will explore the story of Lars and Rosa after they fled the Arboles Valley and lived under assumed names running a successful winery during Prohibition.

“It was fun doing research for that one,” Chiaverini said. “We took home several cases of research with us.”



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