• How did you start making purses from old books?

Once upon a time, my husband bought me a kitschy, yet oddly elegant purse made out of an ABBA record album cover. It fascinated me and I toyed around trying to figure out how it was done. Kinda sorta figured it out, but not really, then returned my attention back to writing my cozy mysteries. Writing novels takes for-freakin-ever and you don’t get any immediate creative satisfaction. Well, I don’t. So I started making funny sayings on t-shirts, aprons and other products over at Zazzle. That’s fun and very immediate, with the added benefit that people seem to like them. But the purses kept nagging at me. I decided to start with something a bit easier (ha!) than the albums and after an embarrassingly long time and scads of research, I figured out my own style for making the book purses. As God is my witness, I will be going back to the album covers to figure those out!

• How should I care for my Lazy Squirrel Purse?

First, be gentle with it. It’s not an everyday purse. Use it for special occasions and whenever you feel like showing off your good taste. Keep it out of the rain and away from teething babies and impolite dogs. The purses are only as big as the spine is wide, but there’s usually room for the free purse hook that comes with each purse, your phone, a small wallet (although most designs have a credit card/ID/cash pocket inside the large pocket to alleviate the need for a bulky wallet), and a few small odds-and-ends. When the purse is overfilled, the strain on the clasp and the rivets can be too much, causing the rivets to loosen.

• I get freebies with my purse?

Yes, indeedy. With every purse I try to include something I’ve made from the pages of your book. I always upload a photo that shows everything that comes with your purse. Notecards, small journals, larger notebooks, bookmarks … wherever the pages lead me. Unfortunately, sometimes the books are too damaged, or simply aren’t conducive to anything nifty. In that case, I’ll include something from a different book. You’ll also get a free purse hook to hang from a table so you won’t have to rest your awesome purse on the floor of a restaurant or bar.

• AND free shipping?

I always offer free shipping in the continental United States. Personally, I like knowing the price of things up front and am always dismayed when I have to pay shipping “and handling,” whatever that is. So, I treat my customers how I want to be treated and that’s with an all-inclusive price. I always ship to your Etsy address — unless you’ve communicated with me in your order about sending to a gift recipient — so make sure it’s correct.

• What if I’m not in the continental United States?

Contact me and we can try to work through this conundrum. The more requests I get for international shipping, the sooner I’ll get my systems in place.

• Do you gift wrap?

Not technically, but I lovingly and carefully wrap each purse in bubble wrap before nestling it inside lime green tissue paper (to match my logo) inside a new white box with my Lazy Squirrel on it. If it’s a gift, you can feel confident that your recipient will receive an elegant and classy package. Attention to detail is important to me. If it is a gift, please contact me with a short message you’d like me to include.

• How do I contact you?

Either through the Etsy “contact the seller” button or the “ask a question” button.

• When will my package arrive?

I won’t hazard a guess because once I hand it off, it’s out of my control. I don’t ship until payment is verified. But, if you allow three weeks from the day you place your order, you probably won’t be disappointed. I ship every Wednesday, so you can add that to your calculations.

• What types of payment do you accept?

Only PayPal. It’s safe and reliable and you don’t need a PayPal account to pay via PayPal. You can pay with your credit or debit card. After you click the “pay now” button, just scroll down to the option to pay without signing up for a PayPal account. As soon as PayPal alerts me that your payment went through, I’ll put your order in line for shipping. Easy peasy.

• Do you give refunds?

Lazy Squirrel Purses doesn’t believe in buyer’s remorse and therefore can’t accept refunds or exchanges or cancellation of orders, so please purchase seriously. If, however, there is some unforeseen problem with your purse when you receive it, please contact me immediately and I’ll make it right. It’s my joy to create something unique for you, so your satisfaction is the most important thing to me.

• How can you be so heartless and destroy books like this?

Hmm. First, I rescue books. I don’t think I’ve destroyed them. Are you worried that because I’ve made a purse from a copy of Harry Potter or Oliver Twist or Shakespeare’s Tragedies that people can’t ever read those stories again? Because I don’t think that will ever happen. If ebooks didn’t spell the demise of print books, I doubt that transforming a few old or damaged copies into purses will cause a rift in the Universe.

Does transforming a wedding dress into a christening gown make the marriage any less sacred? Does making a pillow from an alma mater t-shirt mean your degree is worthless? Does repurposing an outgrown red wagon into a flower box destroy the memory of laughing children?

Second, I don’t subscribe to the theory that mass-produced books themselves are objects to be revered. The ideas, beautiful language, and the way you felt the first time you read them … those are still there, never to be taken away. I think books can be well-loved in many forms. I remember when my first book — middle-grade historical fiction — was published. Every time I was at my library I’d check to see if any copies were on the shelves. I loved seeing the covers get worn and the pages creased and dog-eared. That meant somebody was really reading, and there’s nothing more fantastic than that for an author.

You do have my word, however, that I will never make a purse out of an antique book. Those are few and far between and deserve our reverence.