When we first received a proposal from Brenna Maloney for Socks Appeal, we knew we wanted to publish her book. No Question. Her socks were so irresistibly adorable, that you could hear the cooing of admirers from all over the office. What everyone who worked on the book and had contact with Brenna later discovered, was that she is hilarious! Over the course of the next few months, each of us who were on her book team looked forward to opening emails from Brenna because we knew we were in for a chuckle. So I thought that an interview with her would be the best way to introduce all of you to both her work and her fantastic sense of humor:
Me: How did you get started sewing?
Brenna: My mother taught me, of course. All of my siblings learned to sew at an early age. And quilt and knit and crochet and weave and all manner of wonderful things like that. But, sadly, I’m not terribly good at making real things. My sister can make devastatingly beautiful clothing that actually fits you (doesn’t have too many sleeves or any such nonsense like that). But me, all my stuff always looked a bit off, you know. No patience, I guess. But for some reason, socks come naturally. Go figure.
Me: Has your work turned you into a sock snob?
Brenna: Snob? Snob is such a loaded word. Wouldn’t “elitist” be nicer? Actually, I asked one of my sons if he thought I was a sock snob. He snorted and said: “Mom, you practically use every sock. Even the ones on our feet aren’t safe.” So, uh, I guess the answer to that question would be no. There are certain types of socks that I like to use for certain things. As in, “Oh, that’s a Hamster sock.” Or, “I need that one for Squirrel.” But I look for socks everywhere— garage sales, convenience stores, gas stations— pretty shameless, really. I recently came out of a store with a bag of socks. My husband took a look at me, shook his head sadly and said: “And you aren’t even going to WEAR them, are you?” Alas, no.
Me: Do you have a character in mind before you make the sock or do you wait and see how it turns out before you make the face?
Brenna: I guess I wait and see. I think I go into things with a general intent: Rabbits are sweet and happy; Worry Worts are troubled, etc. But I wait until whatever it is is what it is before I add the face. (Wow. Trying saying THAT out loud!) While working on the book, I had a slew of Rabbits that were all done but their faces. It took me hours to give each one a distinctive look. On about the tenth one, my mind went blank and I couldn’t dream up another good face. Well, I was doing what you do when you’re stuck for a good thought, you know — standing on my head, eating candy, singing songs— (you do do that, too, right? It isn’t just me, right?) and then I got this brilliant idea! All he needed were eyes and a handlebar mustache. It was so perfect. I was like a mad scientist in my lair, laughing maniacally. My husband thought I had lost my mind (NOT for the first time).
Me: Do you sell your pieces?
Brenna: Huh. Well, no, I never really have. I’ve made a lot of sock creatures as baby gifts. It never occurred to me to sell them. Hmmm…think anyone would buy one?
Me: You are doing a book signing in New York, right? When is it?
Brenna: Yes, yes. This is big news. I’ll be at the C&T Publishing booth at BEA in New York on May 26, from 2-3 pm. I have never done a book signing before. I’m nervous! Good grief! Want to make a good impression and all. No one has really told me what the rules are yet, though. What sort of pen is good for this? Should I bring my own Sharpie? And more importantly, what do I sign? I’ve been giving this some thought and I think it would behoove me to sign my books “Theodore Roosevelt.” I think this would greatly add to the value of my book. No one could possibly care to have a book signed by Brenna Maloney. Well, who the devil is she? But the Rough Rider himself? Well, who even cares what the book is, right? So unless otherwise instructed, I’m thinking of just signing everything with his name. Or maybe, just: “Love, Teddy.”
This will come as a shocker: If I live through BEA without having Sharpie failure or some other terrible rooky mistake, I will also do a book signing in Dubuque, Iowa. I’ll be at River Lights Bookstore, 1098 Main Street on August 8. (Time to be determined).