Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interview with Elizabeth Spann Craig

I enjoyed Pretty is as Pretty Dies so much that I asked author Elizabeth Spann Craig if she had time for a short interview. I hope you enjoy "meeting" her, as I did.

Lesa - Elizabeth, I just finished Pretty is as Pretty Dies, but I know it wasn’t your first mystery. Would you introduce yourself to my readers, please?

Elizabeth - Sure, I’m happy to. I’m Elizabeth Spann Craig, author of the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink books. I’m currently writing the Memphis Barbeque mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime (as Riley Adams, for them.)

Lesa - Would you tell us about Myrtle, and her two mysteries, particularly Pretty is as Pretty Dies?

Elizabeth - Myrtle is a feisty octogenarian who has bored of bridge, bingo, garden clubs, and other acceptable pursuits for elderly ladies. She’s ready to take on crime-fighting and prove to her police chief son that she’s still sharp and not ready for Greener Pastures Retirement Community yet.

Lesa - How did you ever create Myrtle and Red?

Elizabeth - Myrtle is based primarily on my own grandmother, Mary Ligon Spann, but she also shares traits with my dad…and with me. Myrtle’s good qualities are from my grandmother and father and her bad qualities are mine. Her son, Red, is the embodiment of everyone who ever told my grandmother she couldn’t do something or underestimated her in any way.

Lesa - I know you’re starting another mystery series. Would you tell us about the first book in that series, and the characters?

Elizabeth - The first book in the Memphis Barbeque series is coming out next Memorial Day, just in time for the barbequing season. Lulu Taylor owns a renowned barbeque restaurant right in the heart of Memphis. Her restaurant even attracts the attention of a Food Network scout, looking for the best barbeque in Memphis. When the scout dies mysteriously, Lulu jumps into action to protect her family who have become suspects.

Lesa - You’re doing a fun blog with some other authors, Would you tell us about the blog?

Elizabeth - Absolutely. We’re a group of cozy mystery writers who all write food series for Berkley Prime Crime. We’re having a lot of fun sharing mouth-watering recipes and getting to know our readers. Come visit us!

Lesa - Would you tell us what you’re working on now?

Elizabeth - I’ve got my hands full right now and, as a stay at home mom, I’m trying to balance it all (school is still out for the summer here until August 25.) I’m promoting Pretty is as Pretty Dies, revising the first book for the Memphis BBQ series (my deadline is September 1), and polishing up the next book in the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink.

Lesa - Elizabeth, I know you’re blogging with some other authors who write mysteries involving cooking. But, you’ve been reading mysteries for a long time. What authors inspired you?

Elizabeth - I’m a huge mystery nut. I started out with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, then graduated to Agatha Christie books. Now I’m inspired by Deborah Crombie, Elizabeth George, M.C. Beaton, Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Anne George, and many more. These women inspire me to be a better writer.

Lesa - Before my last question, is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Elizabeth - This is a shout-out to the aspiring writers out there—there’s no time like the present to start your manuscript. If you set small, attainable goals, you can do it. My personal blog is directed mainly to writers:

Lesa - Thank you for taking time to answer some questions. I always end with a
question that I think you’ll like. I’m a public librarian. Do you have a story
about libraries or librarians that you can share?

Elizabeth - You’re going to have to edit my answer for space! I love libraries. I grew up going to the library with my father many times a week (he’s an English teacher.) We’d spend hours there reading books , magazines, and newspapers and the librarians became almost like family to me. When I had children of my own, the first social thing they did when they were babies was a weekly visit to the library’s story time. I’m usually at the library at least twice a week now. Sometimes I go there to write if life gets too distracting at home (you know…you hear the laundry buzzer go off, the dishwasher finishes its cycle, etc.) I’ll wistfully look at the library shelves and wish that I had more time to read the tempting books there. So when people ask me about my book, I refer them to the library. And, usually, they go there. They’ll check out my book and see if they like it. If they do, they recommend it to friends and buy a copy. Libraries are still my best friends.

Thanks so much again for letting me visit here today!

Lesa - And, thanks for taking the time to visit, Elizabeth! I've enjoyed having the chance to ask you a few questions.

Elizabeth Spann Craig's website is She blogs at, and at

Pretty is as Pretty Dies by Elizabeth Spann Craig. Midnight Ink, ©2009. ISBN 9780738714806 (paperback), 216p.


Alan Orloff said...

Nice interview, Lesa and Elizabeth.

I share your love for libraries, and my father was an English teacher too. Maybe it's part of the English teacher "credo" to take their families to the library often!

Sometimes I get more distracted at the library, with all those books calling out, "Come read me."

Lesa said...

Alan, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments about the interview, but also about libraries. Thank heavens for those English teachers!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Elizabeth, I’m amazed at how much is on your plate. You easily accomplish—and with skill—all those “tasks” and more we fans don’t see. What a role model. Of course, having talent and organizational skill helps. Keep up the good work. Love the Gnomes. Is there a story behind those?

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Lesa said...


I hope Elizabeth will stop by today to answer your note. I never thought to ask about the story behind the gnomes! Thanks.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Alan--Good to find another English teacher's kid out there! Funny how our dads made us library junkies.

Galen--Thanks for the kudos! Actually, a friend of mine was complaining bitterly about her neighbor's "yard art" one day and I thought it would be funny to exaggerate the number of gnomes for effect in my book. In the book, the gnomes are a ploy for my sleuth to upset her son. And it's an effective ploy!

Lesa--Thanks so much for interviewing me here today. I really appreciate the opportunity!

Marvin D Wilson said...

Wonderful interview, Elizabeth is a real achiever, a go-getter for sure. I also enjoy her blog a great deal, you can add "writing instructer" to her many talents. :)

The Old Silly

Helen Ginger said...

You are definitely an inspiration to the slackers like me. I would write best in a library. Coffee shops are too distracting for me - the music, the people, the tempting smells. I really am in admiration of all that you do!

Straight From Hel

Cleo Coyle said...

Elizabeth: "Myrtle Clover" is the greatest name for an amateur sleuth. And naming things is so important for a writer--as vital as scientific nomenclature! You mentioned that she's based on your grandmother, Mary. Is there a story behind choosing your sleuth's name?

I think Myrtle's destined for great things. I can also highly recommend E's blog, Mystery Writing Is Murder. It's fun and informative and the collection of writers commenting makes it even more valuable for anyone looking to publish or to learn more about the process.

(Full disclosure: I'm one of Elizabeth's fellow Mystery Cooks, and I can testify: Her "South in Your Mouth" recipes are outstanding!)

P.S. To Lesa: Nice interview. I (heart) librarians, too. I can still remember the moment the librarian in the little green bookmobile, which dropped anchor once a week in our backwater burg's Acme parking lot, handed me my very first library card. How proud I was to have that card. I'm a professional writer, in large part, because of that moment.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Marvin--Thanks so much, Marvin! And your blog is one of the funniest and most inspiring ones I read.

Helen--You're sweet. It was just one of those things I had to adapt to, since my life is so crazy. You're incredibly productive, yourself!

Cleo--Thanks so much for stopping by! I couldn't name my sleuth after my grandmother or else everyone in Anderson, SC would be looking for themselves in my book (they're in there, though!) I thought I might run into some trouble with the folks in my childhood hometown, so I went with Myrtle--a friend of my mother's and one of many great Southern names in Macon, Georgia (my mother's hometown.)

I love your library story, Cleo! I remember the bookmobile, too.

And y'all need to check out Cleo's Corn Muffin Tops a la Julia Child. Yummy!

Lesa said...

Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth! I'm glad you were able to answer the comments.

And, Cleo? Thanks for the library story. It's always nice to know libraries and librarians are appreciated!

Clea Simon said...

What fun! I'm particularly psyched about the mystery-authors/food blog. Thanks Elizabeth. Thanks Lesa!

Lesa said...

My pleasure, Clea! Thank you.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Enjoyed the interview. Your grandmother sounds like quite the lady! I know I'd like her.

Lesa said...

Elizabeth might be back, Jane, but I just wanted to thank you for stopping by.