Elizabeth Craig is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, the Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries, the Village Library Mysteries, and Memphis Barbeque mysteries. Find out more about her books and sign up for her newsletter on her blog. You can also find Elizabeth on her social media: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook
Welcome to The Engrafted Word Elizabeth! After discovering and reading several of your books this summer, I am so excited to talk with you today! I hope you are doing well, and I know our readers are curious to learn about the wonderful stories you write.
1. Growing up, I loved watching old mystery movies, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s films, or programs based on Agatha Christie’s novels–which is why I have so enjoyed reading your books! What led you to become a mystery writer?
I loved watching mystery movies and shows, too! Murder, She Wrote was one of my favorites when I was a teen. I was also a huge fan of mystery series. I started out with Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and the Hardy Boys, then moved on to Agatha Christie . . . and I kept reading Agatha Christie. I must have read her books three or four times apiece. When I decided to try my hand at writing my own novels, mysteries were the genre I felt most comfortable with drafting.
2. As writers, we tend to write from our own life experiences–who or what would you say is your greatest inspiration?
I had a fairly quiet life as a kid and most of my life experiences came through reading. My grandmother had told me she’d traveled the world in her armchair as a reader, which is something I’ve always remembered. My parents and grandmother read to me daily until I could read myself. Although clearly mysteries had the biggest impact on me as a writer, I think all the friendship stories I read as a child were also a tremendous influence on me: The Wind in the Willows, Winnie-the-Pooh, Black Beauty, Frog and Toad are Friends, just to name a few favorites. The pace of the stories and the closeness of the friendships (and the frequently-quirky characters) featured continue to inspire me and my writing.
3. Creativity comes with its share of ups and downs–what advice would you give to other writers who are feeling discouraged?
I find it’s really helpful to keep a folder on your computer with kind things readers have said about your books and characters. Whenever you get a tough review or have a day when you’re really struggling with your writing, you can go back and read through these messages and regain some of your confidence.
4. Who are some of your favorite authors, and what genres do you enjoy reading the most?
Mysteries are still my favorites! I especially enjoy books by M.C. Beaton (her Hamish Macbeth is a favorite of mine). I just finished a Louise Penny book and always look forward to catching up with everyone in Three Pines. I’m currently reading one of Sophie Hannah’s latest in The New Hercule Poirot Mysteries and admire the way she’s continuing Christie’s work. But I do try to read widely, which helps inform my writing. Other books I’ve enjoyed lately include The War that Saved My Life, This Tender Land, Nothing to See Here, In Five Years, The Glass Hotel, Malorie, and Dear Edward.
5. What current projects are you working on? Please share if you can! I’m currently working on the next Myrtle Clover book, Murder on the Ballot
and the next Village Library book, Hush-Hush. It might sound a little crazy to be writing two books at once, but it’s something I’ve gotten used to in the last year. The series are pretty different from each other, so luckily, I haven’t had any accidental “guest appearances” from one book to the other!
6. The literary journey holds so many memories! Are there any funny stories you would like to share with our readers?
This has been a long time ago, but the memory still makes me smile. At the time, I was pulling my hair out, though! I had a live radio interview and my daughter was home from school early that day. I told her I’d be unavailable for about ten minutes because I’d be on the radio and to please not knock on my door unless it was an emergency. We talked a little about what emergencies meant because she was about five years old. I was well into my interview when there was a knock at the bedroom door. I froze, stumbling over my words as I looked for signs of the “emergency.” Were there flames licking under the door? Smoke? Blood pooling? I didn’t see anything but the knocking persisted and I fumbled my way through the rest of the interview. Finally, it was over and I flung open the door in a panic to see my daughter beaming up at me, completely healthy-looking. “I got the high score on the Wii!” she proudly told me. “Honey! I said not to knock on the door when I was on the radio!” “But Mama,” she said. “You weren’t on the radio. You were on the phone!” Sometimes we have to think like a child to be able to get through to them … I had clearly failed in this mission, ha.
7. Outside of writing, what are hobbies do you enjoy?
Pre-pandemic, I did enjoy traveling when I could. Spending time with my family, especially my two children (one grown, one in college) is now a real highlight when they can visit. Taking walks with my corgi, Finn, is fun and I love watching how curious he is about the world and nature around him…it makes me more observant, too. I love playing card games and board games. Reading is still my main hobby. I do miss the public library, which was one of my favorite places to hang out, pre-pandemic. It’s not open here for browsing, and I long for the serendipitous discovery of books again.
8. Traveling and meeting people seem to be a good basis for a wonderful story. What are your favorite places to travel, and how have those adventures inspired you?
I do enjoy traveling and seeing new places and people. I think it helps refill the writing well. Visiting the mountains of North Carolina (the Blue Ridge) has helped inform settings in the Southern Quilting Mysteries and the Village Library Mysteries. I love going back “home” to South Carolina where my hometown of Anderson is very much like the setting in the Myrtle Clover mysteries. An Alaskan cruise when my son graduated from high school inspired me to take Myrtle on a cruise in one of her mystery adventures.
9. Thus far, I have only read the Southern Quilting Mysteries. Can you tell our readers about the other mystery books you write?
First off, thanks for reading my books! I appreciate it. I have three other series: the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries, the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, and the Village Library Mysteries. The Memphis series features Lulu, owner of a barbeque restaurant and her uncanny ability to solve mysteries. The Myrtle Clover stories revolve around an octogenarian sleuth and her senior sidekick as she solves cases before her police chief son. And the Village Library mysteries are about a librarian with a knack for using her researching skills to investigate murders.
10. Writing takes so much time and research. In fact, I believe as readers we sometimes forget how much love an author puts into his or her work. As a writer, what has been your most rewarding and memorable moment?
For me, it all goes back to the readers. I remember, on a particularly tough and rigorous writing day, feeling a bit drained and dispirited. A reader wrote me an email, telling me that she thought I “wrote my characters with such tenderness.” I think about that a lot and it always makes me smile and remember why I write.
Thanks for joining us, Elizabeth! Wishing you (and all you readers) a blessed day!
Elizabeth has graciously offered to giveaway 5 digital copies of Checked Out, which is the the first book in her Village Library mysteries. Enter below!
Giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. Contest ends November 10, 2020. The winner will be notified by email. Thanks for entering and happy reading friends!