Sunday, August 9, 2009

Author Interview with ELIZABETH SPANN CRAIG

Elizabeth Spann Craig's roots are in a small southern town--so she's done her research on setting for her mystery novels. She lives in South Carolina with her family, juggling motherhood with writing and dreaming of dark and stormy nights beside stacks of intriguing mysteries with excellent opening lines. I'm hoping that in a few years, the stacks will contain her own titles!


Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

This is a hard question for me because I had a lot of family support and support from teachers. I’ll have to say that my grandmother, Mary Ligon Spann, gave me the most encouragement. She was an excellent writer herself and loved reading my stories and poems when I was a child.

How long have you been writing? Why do you prefer writing mysteries?

I’ve been writing since I was a child (I had notebooks and notebooks full of stories.) I wrote for a couple of magazines in college and as a young adult, then shifted to novels in 2002. Mysteries are my favorite genre both to read and write. I love the idea that all our stress can be tied up in finding the killer’s identity. When that tension is released, it’s very cathartic.

You do a lot of blogging and posting on Facebook and Twitter; how have these marketing methods helped your career?

I think the primary way they’ve helped me is by developing a connection with readers and other writers. As far as marketing, my efforts online have really increased my exposure and led both to online and print reviews that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Time. I’m a stay at home mom, and have discovered that I have to be able to write at a moment’s notice whenever I can grab a second. I write at parks, roller skating rinks, doctor waiting rooms—wherever I can find a few minutes.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

Pretty is as Pretty Dies was released on August 1. Bingo, bridge, and a dead body in the church sanctuary? Life in this small Southern town just got ugly…and exciting! This mystery features a dangerously bored octogenarian sleuth, a real estate developer who needed to die, and a quirky cast of characters who all wanted to off the victim. My book is available at IndieBound: , Barnes and Noble:, or your local bookstore.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I’m currently working on the Memphis Barbeque series for Berkley Prime Crime. The first
book should be released Memorial Day 2010. I’m writing as Riley Adams for that series. I’m also revising the next Myrtle Clover book.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

My tip is to make a reasonable writing goal for yourself (mine was always a page a day) and stick to it.

What writers organizations claim you as a member? How has membership helped you as a writer?

Oh, this question really tripped me up, Linda. I have to admit I’m a lapsed member of many different writing organizations. But then, I’m a terrible club member…just ask my sorority sisters. My problem with writing organizations was that they were taking too long to embrace the online world. It was too difficult for me to connect with them. I know that they’ve changed lately because I’ve seen different links online. I’m going to give them a second chance. I’ve heard that a couple of them have very useful online databases for writers. [Note from Linda: No right or wrong answers here – don’t we all want to know the REAL scoop – whatever that might be? Thanks for the honesty, Elizabeth. I’m sure you’re not alone in your perspective.]

Tell us why you believe the proper setting is so important in a book.

It’s been said that setting is a character in a book, and I heartily believe that’s the case. In my books, for instance, the fact that the crimes are set in a small town mean that there’s a limited number of suspects—all of whom have known each other for years and can provide gossipy insights to the sleuth.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to visit your blog today!

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):


  1. Hi Elizabeth (and Linda),
    Nice interview. I kind of feel the same way about writers organizations. Glad to hear I'm not the only one.
    Karen Walker

  2. Nice interview, Elizabeth (and Linda).

    I was wondering if it's hard for you to keep the characters in your two series straight when you're writing.

  3. Wonderful interview! I finished the book and it was delightful!

  4. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm currently in the process of writing two books (a sequel to SECOND TIME AROUND) and a new one, and I don't have a problem at all.

    I was concerned about this fact at the beginning but, for me, the characters have a way of taking off into worlds of their own. Just like the folks at work and those at home, or the differences between my friends' personalities and their lives, keeping the characters separate and distinct in my mind is not a problem.

  5. Karen--Thanks for popping by! Oh good...I'm glad to hear that I'M not the only one to be a writing club drop-out. :)

    Alan--Unlike Linda, I do have a bit of a problem shifting gears. I hate to admit it, but the protagonists in both series do share some similarities. Similar enough to mess me up sometimes. Other times, I have no problem at all. I have friends, the Lavenes, who have written 40 books and they have spreadsheets on characters, pictures of the settings for various books, etc.

    Carol--Thanks so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I had such a great time writing that book.

    Linda--Thanks so much for having me here today. I've been a fan of your blog and it's nice to have a guest appearance here.

  6. Nice interview, Linda and Elizabeth. Pretty Is As Pretty Dies is a fun mystery with the kind of protagonist I love: quirky, persistent, and "older."

  7. Good interview, Elizabeth. Just started your new book and am looking forward to it. I can't wait to see how Myrtle handles things this time.


  8. Dear ladies,

    Thanks to the both of you for the interview. I ordered the book a couple of days ago and hope it arrives soon.

    I too like quirky, persistent, and "older" woman protagonists :).