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!