30 Sep 2021 Author weaves romance into fictitious 501 town
By Susan Peterson
Kathleen Fuller from Cabot is a best-selling romance author. “Hooked on You,” her most recent novel, combines her love of crocheting with a sweet southern romance in the fictional town of Maple Falls, Arkansas, which is based on the Malvern and Hot Springs areas.
The book tells of the everyday struggles of small-town life and the internal struggles of the two main characters. Riley McAllister, a struggling New York artist, is called home to assist Mimi, who broke her leg. Reluctantly returning to Maple Falls, Riley helps at her grandmother’s house and store, the Knots and Tangles Yarn Shop. While in town, she reconnects unexpectedly with Hayden Price, a former high school crush, whose baseball stardom was derailed by a shoulder injury. As one reviewer stated, “The telling of the tale gets as sweet as anything you can get off the dessert menu at Sunshine Diner in Maple Falls.”
Kathleen now has 57 published novels and has hit the USA Today, ECPA, and CBA bestsellers lists. Ironically, she didn’t intend to become a writer.
She recalls taking a journalism class in high school at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. At the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, she earned a degree in early childhood/elementary education, and went on to receive her master’s in special education, with an emphasis on teaching the blind and visually impaired.
She met her husband in storybook fashion. When she was in graduate school, they were enrolled in the same ballroom dance class. They married in 1993. Soon, they had three children and his work took them to Northeast Ohio, near Amish country. At the time, she was homeschooling their three children, which she loved doing, but she started to question her purpose in life.
“God has a way of opening doors,” she said. Her door unlocked when she started reading Christian romance. After devouring numerous books, she realized she wanted to try writing one. And she did it.
Kathleen joined the Romance Writers of America, took classes, and networked with local writing groups. In 2003, with the encouragement of other writers, her first work was published by Tyndale House. She continued to write while teaching full-time, and her work was eventually noticed by publishers.
Her early writing includes books inspired by the Amish/Mennonite settlement near them in Ohio. Those titles include the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, the Amish Letters series, the Brides of Birch Creek series, the Mail Order Brides of Birch Creek, and a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. She has also contributed to numerous novella collections.
She truly found her niche in the Christian romance genre and has now sold over 1 million books. Her writing formula often includes some type of craft, such as cooking, sewing, or crocheting, which gives added appeal to many readers.
Kathleen took up crocheting following a back injury. Again, another door inadvertently opened. The family moved back to Arkansas in 2016, and in 2019, Kathleen met Lorri Ann Helberg, yarn designer and owner of Arkansas Yarn Co. in Malvern.
When “Hooked on You” hit the stands this May, Helberg hosted a special book signing event at her store, which was the inspiration for the fictional store Knots and Tangles. She also created a limited-edition multicolored yarn inspired by the cover of the book. More information can be found on Kathleen’s website.
“Hooked on You” is the first in her Maple Falls Series. The next in the series is “Much Ado About Latte,” which is scheduled for release in January 2022.
For the past six years, Kathleen has written full-time. She says writing is no longer a hobby but her job, and she gets in the chair and writes every day. “If you just wait for inspiration, you’ll never write.” She enjoys people watching, pondering about “what if” questions, and being open to guidance from above to help her see the next open door.
The author loves to speak to groups and used to enjoy girlfriend getaways with other authors (before COVID-19). But quarantining has been advantageous in one way; last year was the most productive in her career. She also finds time to continue crocheting and runs the Facebook group Books & Hooks.
The ‘Hooked on You’ Yarn Kit
Kathleen Fuller, who is from Cabot, has written her most recent novel to combine her love of crocheting with a sweet southern romance in the fictional town of Maple Falls, Arkansas. Maple Falls is actually based on the Malvern and the Hot Springs area.
“Hooked on You” features a yarn store in small-town Arkansas which was inspired by a business in Malvern called Arkansas Yarn Co. The store’s owner, Lorri Ann Helberg, dyed a colorway on their Merino DK base to match the book’s cover. Kits containing an autographed copy of the book, a skein of the unique yarn, and the crochet and knitting patterns are available at arkansasyarnco.myshopify.com. In the search box, type “Hooked On You.”