These pictures, and the biography, can be downloaded for use in publicity. My bibliography is available at this link.
Mary Monica Pulver (her maiden name) is an incidental Hoosier — Terre Haute, Indiana, had the hospital closest to her parents’ home in Marshall, Illinois. She spent the later part of her childhood and early adult life in Wisconsin, graduating from high school in Milwaukee. She was a journalist in the U.S. Navy for six and a half years (two in London), and later attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She is married to a museum curator.
Mary Monica sold her first short story, “Pass the Word,” to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, in 1983, and has since sold more than two dozen short stories to anthologies and magazines, including some in Germany, England, Italy and France. She has appeared in such anthologies as The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives, The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, Shakespearean Mysteries, Royal Whodunnits, Unholy Orders, Murder Most Crafty, and Silence of the Loons.
Her first mystery novel, Murder at the War, appeared from St. Martin’s Press in 1987 and was nominated for an Anthony as Best First Novel. The Unforgiving Minutes and Ashes to Ashes followed in 1988; but Original Sin was sold to Walker, who also presented the fifth book, Show Stopper, in May of 1992. Berkley Diamond brought these mysteries out in paperback. They feature detective Peter Brichter – a cop one reviewer said was “a hardboiled sleuth who’s somehow landed in a cozy mystery”.
Berkley published six medieval mysteries Mary Monica and Gail Frazer wrote in collaboration under the pseudonym Margaret Frazer: The Novice’s Tale, The Servant’s Tale (nominated for an Edgar as Best Original Paperback of 1993), The Outlaw’s Tale, The Bishop’s Tale, The Boy’s Tale, and The Murderer’s Tale. The detective in the mysteries is a nun, Dame Frevisse, a niece by marriage of Thomas Chaucer, the legendary Geoffrey’s son. The stories take place in England in the 1430s. Gail continued the series alone.
In 1998 Mary Monica began writing a new series for Berkley featuring amateur needleworking sleuth Betsy Devonshire. Set in Excelsior, Minnesota, Crewel World came out in March, 1999, and has been followed by eighteen other books, with Knit Your Own Murder coming out in August 2016. The first six were paperback originals, then they became hardcovers followed by paperback editions. These light and traditional novels are written under the pseudonym Monica Ferris, and all have gone to multiple printings – the first one is in its nineteenth printing!
Mary Monica has taught courses on mystery writing to children at North Hennepin Community College, gifted children in District #287, and adults at one-evening seminars at Hennepin and Ramsey County libraries. She does lectures and signings, and has appeared on panels at mystery and science fiction conventions, including Bouchercon, Minicon, Diversicon, Magna Cum Murder, and Malice Domestic. She has spoken to stitchery guilds on local, state, and national levels. She has won a place on national and local best-seller lists, including USA Today and the independent mystery bookstore compilation. She is a paid speaker on the life of a mystery author.
Mary Monica studies the medieval period as an amateur, and does needlework. She is a Lay Eucharistic Visitor and Lector at the Episcopal Church of St. George in Minneapolis. She collects and is often seen in exuberant hats.
Monica, I am the librarian at Textile Center Library. You will be coming for an Author Bag Lunch event on December 20, 2011 from noon to 1 when your new book in the Betsy Devonshire slouth series comes out. I was wondering if you would like to exhibit some of your hats in the library Dec. 1 to Dec. 20th? Everyone would enjoy seeing them.
Textile Center Pat O’Connor Librarian
3000 University Ave SE
I think that’s a delightful idea! How many hats should I bring? (I have around thirty hats.)
Dear Monica, not sure this is the place to mention this however I just finished Crewel Yule (I’ve been sick and had it from a book fair in a pile to read; even tho it’s not Christmas season). In the beginning it refers to a 911 operator with a 911 call. My previous job was a Nationally certified 911 operator. I thought you might like to know that the call would have started with “911, WHERE is your emergency?” not What is your emergency. It is irrelevant WHAT the emergency is if we cannot FIND the emergency. If the person were shot and all we got was they were shot we would have NO IDEA where the person was. If all we got was the ADDRESS, that would get emergency help there and we could then assess the situation. Your books are so accurate in the stitching and fabrics, the materials, etc, I thought you should know that the accuracy on the 911 call wasn’t there. Besides, we would not ask if the person were really dead either that is for the medical examiner; or the OIC to figure out ; nor let them know we were very busy and it would be a while (other districts cover in cases such as these). Just a few pointers there, other than that the book was very good.
Mary Monica–I’d like to get in touch with you to see about the possibility of an author reading at one of our libraries in Scott County in October or November, 2011. Thanks.
Mary Monica–I got an email from you after I contacted you about a possible author reading at one of libraries in Scott County and I responded, but then I didn’t hear anything back from you. Should I be sending it to a different email account? One of our libraries is very interesed in having you talk at their library. I’d also be happy to talk with you on the phone, if you’d prefer. Thanks!
I am open to that. I have a guest coming from Mexico to stay with us the first two weeks of October, but she might be interested in watching me give my talk.
Mary–I emailed you with some specific dates about a presentation in October or November. Can you take a look at that email and get back to me? Or I’d be happy to call you and talk about possibilities on the phone. I’ve got to get this arranged in the next week and we’d really enjoy having you talk at the library, but I need to talk specifics with you. Or give me a call at 952-447-3375.
Prior Lake Branch Library
Mary Pulver– This is the email that apparently didn’t through to you. I don’t see your calendar listed in your email, but here are the dates we’d like to see if you’re available: (all from 7:00- 8:00 PM)
Thur 10/6, 10/13, 10/27, 11/10, 11/17
Also, what would you charge for an hour presentation? As I mentioned in the first email we have funding through the Legacy Amendment to pay for these presentations and could pay you $250 for an hour’s talk, but this is also negotiable.
If any of these dates works, just let me know and I’ll email you a short contract for the program that we’ll ask you to complete it and send to MELSA (the Metropolitan Library Service Agency) prior to the talk, as they are administrating the Legacy funds for all library programming.
Let me know if you have any questions. We look forward to having you be a part of this author series!
If it all possible, could you just call me at 952-447-3375 so that we can talk about this? It somehow seems that my emails are not getting through to you and I need to get plans in place by the end of the month. Thanks!
Prior Lake Branch Library
Scott County Library System
I stumbled upon Blackwork at a Barnes and Noble recently, and from the time I got midway through the book, I was addicted. I’m an avid reader and your stories were so rich with detail, yet easily read. I was able to sink my teeth into them in minutes. It’s been a little over 2 weeks since I read Blackwork, and I have completely read all but 2 or 3 books. Not only have you brought me into a genre of reading that I was never drawn to. You have also re-ignited my joy in needle crafts. I’m now working to bring my Counted up to a more intermediate level, I am also looking into learning Needle Point, and Knitting. I’ve been doing Counted and Crochet since I was a kid. So, thank you!!!
since I don’t have the book following Sins and Bones—what happened to Godwin???
Hi – I’m Ellen, Monica’s webmistress. And I’m afraid you’ve asked for an indeterminate book: do you mean Sins and Needles, Knitting Bones, or Buttons and Bones? In all cases, he’s still at Crewel World. He’s learning to play golf with his boyfriend Rafael. And Rafael is thinking of starting his own shop. Godwin will be tempted.
Noooo……nothing should ever separate Betsy and Godwin. Its like peanutbutter and jelly
I agree. Betsy and Godwin are perfect compliments to each other and balance out each others characters and flaws.
I’m the Adult Services Manager for Anoka County Library and part of my responsibilities include overseeing our winter reading program for adults, which is called Winter Jackets and runs from January 17, 2012 – February 29, 2012. Because of legacy funding, the last few years we’ve been able to provide author visits for our customers during that time. Our customers are always drawn to Minnesota authors, so I was wondering if you might be interested in providing an author program at the Rum River Library on Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 2:00 pm.
Please let me know if you might be interested, and your fee for a one hour program. Legacy funding also allow us to pay mileage in addition to an honorarium, if that’s a consideration.
Thanks very much,
We look forward to your visit here at the Shakopee Library in a couple of weeks. Is it possible for the local cable station to video tape your visit here? Is it also possible to get your phone # in case we would need it?
This message is for Mary Monica Pulver. My name is Tyler Rabe, the Television Production Specialist at the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission. We are the community television station for 17 cities around the Lake Minnetonka area. The reason I am contacting is that we would love to get Mary to do an interview with us. We recently became aware of Mary’s books from the article published in Lake Minnetonka Magazine. We were also recently featured in the magazine, and we both have the same goal of highlighting local citizens in our community. I could not find a phone number, otherwise I would have tried contacting you directly.
We have a monthly news-program here at the LMCC called Lakeside News, and we have a regular occurring segment called Around the Lake, where we spotlight local citizens or business’ that are making a difference. We are hoping to set up the interview for early November, and would love to hear back from you as soon as possible. Here is an example of a recently completed Around the Lake segment we did with local artist Philip Noyed, to give you an example of what we are hoping to accomplish.
If you have a phone number that I could get a hold of you that would be great, so we can talk and hammer out more details, otherwise, my number and email are at the bottom and I can be contacted anytime. Thanks, and I hope we can work together soon!
Television Production Specialist
Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission
952-471-7125 (ext. 106)
Hi Monica – You asked me to contact you here regarding the radio opportunity on the 6th but I don’t see a contact tab. Please send me a note and we can discuss.
Stacy Verdick Case
Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!
I love the Needlecraft Mystery series. The characters in the book seem to come alive to me and I find as I go from book to book I am wondering how each character is doing as if they are real instead of fiction. The plots in the book are very clever and well thought out. I first started reading the series because of the name and started feeling nostalgic (and a little guilty) because I used to do embroidery and cross stitch often. There is a peace you find inside when creating your own work of art (even if it is not a work of art to anyone else). I have often thought how wonderful it would be to own a shop like that and just walk downstairs to go to work. I have currently finished Threadbare and am reluctant to start the last book because I do not want the series to be over. It is almost like saying good-bye to friends you have never met but feel you know intimately if that makes any sense. I will savor the last book in the series with the hope you are working on another one.
Thanks for the comment — which I will pass on to Monica. I can assure you there are more books in the works. She just signed a contract for three more. The Drowning Spool is due in February, and she’s working on another which’ll probably be called The Needle Case.
I have not yet seen “the Drowning Spool” Is it out?
Yes indeed! It’s been out for several months now. (You can check it out on Amazon.com). The next book, which was to be called The Needle Case, renamed Darned if you Do, is in New York with the publisher. And Monica is hard at work on the next book, but just at the beginning.
As for me, I’ve been a lazy webmistress and should get things up more rapidly.
Thanks Ellen, I will place an order with Amazon. Looking forward to reading it.
Will there be a 20th needlecraft book? I really hope so because I really enjoy these books in this series. I enjoy all your books and hope you will continue writing. Thank you for all the needlecraft information. And I look forward to seeing the next book.
Monica is working on a twentieth book. She also hopes to do a twenty-first. But Berkely Prime Crime was bought up by some German publisher, and things are fraught. – Ellen Kuhfeld, webmistress
(Really from Monica)
I have been struggling with a writer’s block that has gone on for two years. I was very ill with a MRSA infection and it seems to have killed my muse – but now, at long last, it is slowly and weakly trying to come back to life. I am working on Tying the Knot, getting Godwin and Rafael married – but murdering their wedding planner. Hope to have it finished by the end of the year. Your patience is appreciated.
I very much enjoy your Needlecraft mystery books and I have most of them in hardcover. I enjoy reading them multiple times. I am struggling to find hardcover copies of the first 7 books in the series even in used book venues. Do you know how I can get copies of these books?
Unfortunately, Tracey, the first seven books did not come out in hardcover. I *think* Crewel Yule was the first hardcover. Monica’s first series came out only in hardcover, and then the reprints hit paperback. There were five of them, three from St. Martin’s Press and two from Walker. These were under the name of Mary Monica Pulver, and are available on Amazon as e-book and trade paperback. Look under “Monica Ferris Presents”, or under Mary Monica Pulver.
Ellen – Webmistress
I love the Needlecraft Mystery series! I have read all 19 books and enjoyed each one! I love the characters, the town and the mysteries are some of the best I’ve ever read. Betsy is very clever and I’m sure that is because ‘Monica Ferris’ is extremely clever!
Are there any plans to add more books to this series?
There are plans. They aren’t going all that well. Monica is currently stuck about halfway through book 20, tentatively named “Tying the Knot”. She’s old, and not in the best of health, but perhaps a burst of energy and inspiration will hit her and set things moving again. (I’m Ellen, her webmistress and occasional collaborator. I’m even older.)
If you are up for another dose of the Monica Magic, her first series, my novel, a book of short stories we collaborated on, and her first book-length work, “The Chronicles of Deer Abbey” are on Amazon. She’s used a LOT of pen names over the years, but you’ll note that Mary Monica Pulver has a ‘Monica’ in the middle. They are there under the collective title “Monica Ferris Presents.” Best I can do for you right now. – Ellen
Dearest Mary Monica (and Ellen):
Sending love and positivity to you and yours. I recently found the Needlecraft Mystery series on digital audiobook at my local library through the suggestion of a friend, and I just finished the 4th book. I decided to go back and re-read (re-listen really) to those four so that I can savor them before going on in the series, because I want to savor the experience of reading the whole series before I know the rest of the story. The first time I read Crewel World, I couldn’t get over how good the writing was for the lightness of the overall tone. Basically, I didn’t understand how you were so good, and still didn’t take yourself too seriously! haha! I fell in love with the book, and now I’m falling in love the series. My friend who introduced me to the series even suggested we create a book club within our little fiber-arts group to read the whole series together, and I think it might take off next month. We talk about your book almost everyday since I first found your series a month ago, and I have print copies of books 1-4 on the way so that I can have them on my shelf to cherish. I know you probably wrote them with a slightly older audience in mind, but you have inspired me and my friend both to reignite our passion for reading AND needlework, and we are in our 20s and 30s. Thank you for all your work.
Mary Monica got to be such a good writer by practicing. Depending on how you count series, Betsy Devonshire is either her second, or fourth. She was a Navy journalist way back during the Vietnam War (several years of which she spent in England). She was an ardent Anglophile before that; after, she was a much more knowledgeable Anglophile. She began writing short stories – she wanted to do science fiction, but the mystery magazines were the ones that bought her stories.
During that time, she also wrote a four-chapbook series set in an English nunnery during the Wars of the Roses. (Much later, I took all the manuscripts, merged them into one book with a touch of copy-editing, and published the result. Do four chapbooks made into one novel count as a series?
Then. writing as Mary Monica Pulver, she had a series whose protagonist was Detective Sergeant Peter Brichter. Five books, and the first (Murder at the War) was up for an Anthony as best first novel. After that, she and a friend, Gail Frazer, wrote together as Margaret Frazer. The second book in that series was up for an Edgar, and was the committee surprised when they had two people show up. But Mary only participated for the first six books, then Gail took it on by herself and Mary went off to write the Needlework mysteries. I’m not sure if being half the author for a third of the series counts. But Betsy Devonshire does, for sure.
And of course the Monica Ferris books are the best, because I copy-edited them.
All of these are available on Amazon, by the way, under “Monica Ferris Presents”. There is also a collection of short stories that we worked on together, and a novel of my own, set among Northmen at a considerably earlier time than Mary Monica’s books.
Best – Ellen
Thank you so much for replying! What a joy it brought to my day! Thank you for the info on Mary Monica’s other books as well as yours. I think, indeed you must be an excellent in your on right if you were the copy editor for the Needlecraft Mysteries 1-4.
In your reply, you spoke of Mary Monica in the past tense. I know she was not exactly a spring chicken when she was writing the series. Is she still with us? After 2020 I try not to assume acquaintances are still here, let alone beloved elderly authors, but it would mean so much to me and my friend Myrtle if you could pass on our l;ove and admiration for the series to her. And, of course much love and admiration for the copy-editing to you, Ellen.
In the midst of everything else that the world has thrown at me lately, I was happy to be able to grab hold of your work amongst the ether.
I had found the book Blackwork on a $1 library sale shelf and like to read books in order so set it aside…. three years later after packing and moving all my many books and donating a majority of them I found it again. After many visits to book stores and eBay I almost caved and bought them on Amazon but eventually got the first two books. After reading them one a night I just had to get the whole set and through many more eBay auctions and slow shipping testing my patience I finally have all 19 needlecraft books. I have now been reading almost one every other day and just finished Darned if you Do. One last book to read and I will be finished and it will be bittersweet I am sure. I loved all of these books and had to come see what’s been happening with the latest one and am saddened to hear about Mary’s declining health. I wish for her health to be better and that she knows what a legacy she has created and how much her fans appreciate her. Thank you for keeping us informed and hope you are all being safe!
Mary Monica and I are still alive, thank you, but definitely not spring chickens. We’re both in our late seventies, and the muse of fiction is not active at all. (Monica has half of a Betsy Devonshire on her hard drive, but it’s not going much towards the other half.) Fortunately, my muse of non-fiction is still fairly active, and I’m working on a collection of essays. Slowly, it’s true, but it’s around 30,000 words at the moment.
You can check out some of my writing at washuu dot net . There is variety. The landing page tells you a bit about me (the photo is almost twenty years old, so do not take it too firmly to heart.) Then when you go to The Lab, you’re given a choice of where else you might want to go. “History” is a collection of essays, while “How-To” discusses how to make diverse things. “Art” is mostly harmless and mostly mine, though I did neither the Sailor Moon paper dolls, nor Artemis the Cat. Sailor Spark and Krosp, the Spark Cat, are mine. “Fiction” and “Supers” mostly tie in with cartoon art and similar, and if you click on the Spider, it’s at your own risk.
I’ll pass your message on to Mary Monica – Ellen
Are there going to be anymore Needle Craft mysteries written? I just love them and would really love to read more!
I’m Ellen, Monica’s webmistress. I’m sorry to say there probably won’t be any more Needle Craft mysteries.. There is about half a book that’s been sitting in her computer, but she’s had no luck adding to it. No guarantees it won’t be finished, but the odds are against it.
The needlework mysteries, however, are her third series. She was half of Margaret Frazer for the first six Dame Frevisse tales, and she wrote her first series as Mary Monica Pulver. They can be found on Amazon by searching for “Monica Ferris Presents”. There are eight books under that imprint. One I wrote, one -we- wrote, and one she wrote under the name of Margaret of Shaftesbury and I edited and published it. (That one is set in an abbey of nuns during the Wars of the Roses.)