Thursday, June 17, 2010
My mystery author guest: Elizabeth Spann Craig
As promised yesterday, mystery author Elizabeth Spann Craig is is visiting my blog today to answer interview questions. Above is a cover photo of Delicious and Suspicious, the first book in her Memphis Barbeque mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, written as Riley Adams. Delicious and Suspicious will be released on July 6th. When a food scout from a cable cooking channel is murdered, it's only natural for restaurant owner Lulu Taylor to take it personally. After all, her barbeque restaurant served the scout's last meal. But danger lurks as Lulu investigates the crime. Will she clear the restaurant's name, or is she next to be skewered?
See what Elizabeth has to say in response to my questions below, and feel free to ask her additional questions in comments.
Interview with Elizabeth Spann Craig (aka Riley Adams):
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?
Some people are just gifted with skills in many different areas. It makes it so hard to decide which one to pursue! I’m not one of those people. I knew in elementary school that writing was going to figure prominently in my future. I was encouraged to write by my book loving mother, my English teaching father, and my fellow-writer grandmother.
2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
The characters I use are usually amalgams of different people that I know or have come across. The nice thing about having the basis of a fictional character in several real people is that you have something solid to work with.
3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I’m naturally a pantster when I write. I have a basic idea where I’m going with the story, but I don’t map it out. There’s something that I do like to do called a mini-outline. With these small outlines I can plan the next scene or even just the next page. It gives me a little speed when I write, but it doesn’t make me feel tied down. For me, it’s a great way to end one day’s writing session—I can leave myself a short note: This is what I want to start out with tomorrow. Tommy will be asking Jerry where he was when Bertha was killed…etc. Then the next day I just jump right into the writing.
4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?
The plot is definitely important. But if a reader doesn’t like the characters, he’s not going to keep reading. So for me, characters have a slight edge on plot—but I try not to skimp on either one.
5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Time is definitely the biggest challenge I’ve faced as a writer. And it’s a daily challenge! As a mother of two children (one still in elementary school), I’m still playing a big role as a volunteer at their schools, Scout functions, etc. And there’s always eventually summer vacation to be reckoned with! I’ve learned to write on the go…in carpool lines, at swimming pools, and at skate rinks. I want to spend one-on-one time with my children when they get home from school, so I’m motivated to get my writing done by the early afternoon.
6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
There is no typical workday for me! But there are always goals and tasks. During a typical writing day I need to do promo (my daily blog, the other blogs I’m part of, Twitter, some Facebook), respond to writing-related emails…and work on the current manuscript. Usually I’ll work at least 1 ½ hours on writing each day and easily that much on promotion.
7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Write what you enjoy reading and become part of the online writing community—it has so much great information, friendship, and support to offer.
8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.
I’m not much of a TV fan. I did watch Lost and now that it’s wrapped up, I’m not sure what I’m going to watch on TV anymore!
9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Right now I’m writing book three of the Memphis Barbeque series for Berkley Prime Crime. I’m also working on developing a new cozy series.
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?
I’m really excited about my new July 6th release under my Riley Adams pen name, Delicious and Suspicious. Your blog readers can visit me at my blog, Mystery Writing is Murder or at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen where I hang out with other mystery loving cooks. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Beth!
Okay, readers, fire away! And if no one else asks, I want to know if Delicious and Suspicious includes any recipes, and if so, what the recipes are for. Don't we all love barbecuing in the summer? I'm always looking for new barbeque recipes.