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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cozy Mystery Week! - Introducing Elizabeth Spann Craig and "Pretty Is As Pretty Dies."

To celebrate my one-year blog anniversary and to kick off my Cozy Mystery Week, I am so excited to have Elizabeth Spann Craig as my very first author interview here on Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews!

Elizabeth is the author of “Pretty Is As Pretty Dies: A Myrtle Clover Mystery.” I asked Elizabeth a few questions about herself and her wonderful book.

1. Tell me a little about yourself. I’m a mom of a 7th grade son and a 3rd grade daughter. I’m a Brownie leader, room mom, stay-at-home mom….oh! And I write books, too. J I’ve written two Myrtle Clover books for two separate publishers and am now writing the Memphis Barbeque series for Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin.)

2. You were a journalist for a while - do you find writing fiction easier than writing news? It’s different. When I was working in journalism (for magazines), I was the low girl on the totem pole. Basically, I was assigned a story to write and wrote it pretty well, but with no creative input. I was dying to try something where I could use my imagination.

3. Why write mysteries, especially the "cozy mystery" genre? Mysteries are my favorite genre to read. I started out with Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden before moving on to all of Agatha Christie’s books. I found that the grittier crime novels, although I admired the writing and the plot, were less of an escape for me. I actually felt more stressed out when I was reading a book with a lot of gore and violence. With cozy mysteries, the violence happens off-stage. The emphasis is on the book’s characters and the actual puzzle itself. Reading cozies genuinely feels like an escape to me. I loved the idea of taking an idyllic town, introducing a serious problem, and then restoring peace and tranquility to the setting. I guess it’s my Type-A nature—I like fixing things.

4. How did you create the character of Myrtle, the 80-year old sleuth of your story? Myrtle most strongly resembles my grandmother, who passed away a couple of years ago in her mid-nineties. She was a feisty and smart former English teacher who didn’t suffer fools lightly. Myrtle also shares a lot of traits with my father, also an English teacher and with a tendency toward impatience (which I also share.) Myrtle’s worst traits--she can be a difficult woman--are mine.

5. What are you working on now? I just submitted my manuscript for the first of the Memphis Barbeque Mystery series on Tuesday. Now I’m revising the next Myrtle Clover book (which I’ll send in early November to Midnight Ink) and I’m starting book two of the Memphis Barbeque series (due April 1.)

6. Do you collect gnomes? Great question! No, I don’t dare to because my neighbors would kill me. Actually, the gnomes came about when a friend of mine was complaining about her neighbor’s yard art. She was so upset about it that I thought it might prove the best way for Myrtle to get back at Red.

7. Who are your favorite mystery writers? I have lots of favorites. I love M.C. Beaton, Deborah Crombie, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, Anne George, and P.D. James (I know James can get edgy, but I think her books have mellowed out as far as the level of violence.)

Thanks so much for letting me visit on your blog, Sharon! - Elizabeth


Thank YOU, Elizabeth for being my first interview and for sharing your thoughts on “Pretty Is As Pretty Dies.”

Here is my review of “Pretty Is As Pretty Dies”

Pretty Is As Pretty Dies: A Myrtle Clover Mystery
By Elizabeth Spann Craig
Midnight Ink; $13.95

Just because Myrtle Clover is 80 years old and a retired schoolteacher doesn’t mean that she’s ready to be put out to pasture. Her son Red, the police chief of Bradley, North Carolina, begs to differ. He just wants his mama to settle down to a quiet, unexcitable life.
In retaliation for Red’s butting into her business, Myrtle hauls out her collection of the gaudiest lawn gnomes ever seen, just to show her disapproval.

However, when on her way to the church alter guild meeting Myrtle stumbles upon the body of town socialite Parke Stockard, she comes up with a brilliant plan to show Red and the rest of the town that she still has a thing or two up her sleeve as far as wits and smarts go. She’s going to solve this murder!

Poor Parke Stockard, a newcomer to Bradley, wasn’t very well-liked to begin with. When she started pushing her weight around with her money and her knowledge of secrets, well, it seemed like people were standing in line to do Parke in. As Myrtle wades through the suspects and evidence she uncovers, much to Red’s chagrin, she begins to piece together a not-so-lovely portrait of Parke that leads to an unlikely suspect. Is it Kitty, the meek flower arranger/church social organizer? Or could it be Althea Tanner, whose husband keeled over dead after a visit from Parke? Or could the suspect be closer to home, as in Parke’s own deviant son, Cecil? Myrtle certainly has her work cut out for her.

Elizabeth Spann Craig delivers up one spunky crime-solver in her delightful new mystery, “Pretty Is As Pretty Dies.” Myrtle Clover and her fellow town folk are a unique and quirky bunch, and it’s just a delight getting to know them as Myrtle searches for clues to solve the crime of the year. The character of Myrtle is a hoot, as is her nosy neighbor Erma Sherman, her poor beleagured daughter-in-law Elaine, long suffering son Red, and the handsome new widower Miles Bradford.

I look forward to future tales of crime-fighter Myrtle and her band of southern side-kicks!
So grab up a gnome or two, and enjoy “Pretty Is As Pretty Dies.”

Check out Elizabeth’s website at http://www.elizabethspanncraig.com/ for more information on her books. She also has a fascinating blog – http://www.mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/ and can also be found at http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/.

Be sure to leave a comment – I will draw one random comment on September 11 to win a special cozy mystery basket!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sharon, thanks so much for letting me be part of your blog on such a special day! Happy Blogaversary!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Stephanie said...

Congratulations on your Blog anniversary!

Petty Witter said...

Happy blogoversary. Is it just me or are those gnomes scary? Sounds like a great book otherwise.

Neas Nuttiness said...

Congrats on your blogaversary!
Mysteries are my favorite genre, and I'm always on the look out for "new to me" mystery series.
Love the cover of this book - thanks for this great post!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Enjoyed the interview, Elizabeth. I am amazed at all that you manage to juggle at one time. I have ordered a copy of the book and can’t wait until it arrives!

Stephen Tremp said...

You're one busy lady, Elizabeth. Glad to see you're getting exposure to new audiences. Best wishes for your continued success.

Stephen Tremp

Joanne said...

Great way to kick off "Cozy Mystery Week!" Will definitely be adding this book to my TBR mystery pile.

Jennifer said...

I adore cozy Mysteries. I loved the interview and was pleased to see a reference to my Trixie Belden. I read every book as well as Nancy Drew before I too moved on to Agatha Christie. :) The review you gave was well done and I am adding this book to my ever growing TBR list. Thank you for brining this author to my attention.

Alan Orloff said...

Nice interview, Elizabeth! (and Sharon!)

I've read the book, and I agree with Sharon--Myrtle Clover is a hoot! Can't wait to read her next adventure.

Happy Blogaversary!

Dorte H said...

I enjoyed your interview with Elizabeth, but I only skimmed the review as I have the book on my shelf and plan to read it soon. Usually I am not afraid of spoilers, but when I am just about to read a book, I don´t like reading reviews.

Lesa said...

Good question about the gnomes, Sharon! Elizabeth needs to be careful with those gnomes. I once knew a woman given some sort of owl as a present, and everyone she knew gave her owls. She hated owls, but was stuck with them all over her office!

Nice interview and review!

Lesa - http://www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

Janel said...

Happy Anniversary!!

Cozy mysteries are definitely one of my favorite ways to escape too. I can't wait to read the Memphis BBQ series! Thanks for the great interview.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Lots of fun celebrating going on here! Congrats, Sharon, on your blog anniversary, and what a great way to kick off "Cozy Mystery Week," with this wonderful interview with Elizabeth and a review of her mystery. Thanks for the chance to get to know Elizabeth better.
Well done!

Heidiwriter said...

This sounds like a delightful read! I love "senior sleuths!"

Nice interview and post.

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments, both to Elizabeth and myself! On to day 2!

Tara said...

I came over from Elizabeth's blog. The gift basket sounds amazing.

Froggy said...

Great Interview Sharon!! :)


Sheila Deeth said...

I'm really enjoying your reviews, and me to read list is growing fast. I rescued my mother-in-laws Agatha Christie books from the attic a long time ago then moved on to other books. It's fun to come back to cozy mysteries.

Barb said...

Great interview and book reviews of such great sounding mysteries. I especially find the mystery about crocheting fascinating.

Cozy mysteries fill in empty spots in my reading schedule.
Your gift basket sounds absolutely amazing.

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