Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams

Today my guest is Elizabeth Spann Craig (aka Riley Adams). I met Elizabeth when she was a guest speaker at one of our Sisters in Crime meetings. She spoke about her writing career and how she went from being a journalist to writing mystery novels. She is currently working on three different series under both names. I caught up with Elizabeth to ask a few questions and this is what she had to say:

First, Elizabeth, thank you for being my guest today. I really appreciate you taking time out of your very busy schedule for this interview.

EE: How long have you been writing? When did you first realize you wanted to write novels for the masses?

ESC: I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was ten. I wrote like crazy when I was a kid, filling notebook after notebook. Then, when I was an older teen, I started looking at writing from a job standpoint and worried about making a living. That's when I took a detour into journalism. When I started having children, I finally made a decision to return to fiction. I loved creative writing and wanted to share my stories with other people.

EE: What's a typical writing day for you like? Are you most productive in the mornings or late at night? I know you juggle family and other things, so how do you fit your writing in if you don't have a set schedule to write? What do you consider the most time consuming aspect of your writing?

ESC: Right now, I'm getting up at 4:50 a.m. and jumping right into my manuscript as soon as I pour my coffee (about 5 a.m.) I write until 5:30, which usually means I've written several pages. Then I get the kids up and get them ready for school, drive the carpool, etc. I try to write again around 9:15...some days that doesn't happen. I always have a Plan B and frequently that means squeezing writing in when I'm waiting for my children to leave an after-school activity. And I *always* write in the afternoon carpool line outside the high school. I usually get another couple of pages then, at least. I write on the go, at a moment's notice and I'm always looking for scraps of time when I can fit it in.

The most time-consuming part of the writing business is definitely the promo. I spend more time on promo than I do on my writing (unless I'm under a tight deadline.)

EE: Elizabeth, You are writing several different series. You also write under another name. How do you keep the series separated and not get confused which one you are working at the moment and how do you keep Riley Adams from sneaking in as the author when you are not writing on her books? What are the different series you are working on at the moment? How often are your books being published in the series?

ESC: I'll admit that I've gotten a little confused in the past! I've got two books for two different series due by July. What I'm currently doing is writing the second book of the Southern Quilting mystery series...that first draft should be done in the next week. Then I'm planning on letting it sit a day or two while I jump right into the fourth Memphis Barbeque mystery (a Riley Adams book). Then I'll edit the first book and draft the second. That should tap into two different parts of my brain, which will hopefully help me out a little and keep me from being either confused or burned out. I've tried to make the characters in the two series really different from each other to help keep one series from bleeding into the other. Fortunately, my two protagonists are very different from each other, so that helps.

The publishing schedules for my series haven't collided...until now! I had a November 2011 release of the 3rd Memphis Barbeque mystery, and I'll have a June release of the first Southern Quilting mystery, Quilt or Innocence. But next year, it looks as if my fourth Memphis book and my second Southern Quilting book will probably have similar release dates.

EE: What was your inspiration to start writing mysteries?

ESC: I absolutely love mysteries. They're my favorite genre to read, so they were natural for me to write. To me they're almost an interactive experience--I feel as if I'm solving the mystery alongside the sleuth.

EE: Elizabeth, we met at a Sisters in Crime meeting not too long ago. How long have you been involved with Sisters in Crime? What do you enjoy most about being a member of Sisters in Crime?

ESC: I think I've been a SinC member since about 2007ish. I like the comraderie and information that I get from other writers. The SinC newsletter is also a great resource for writers. And I've heard that the Guppies are an incredibly supportive group for writers.

EE: Do you listen to music or other outside noise when you write or do you write in silence?

ESC: If I'm writing at home, I listen to jazz, new age, classical or other non-lyrical music in the background. If I'm out in public, I just tune all the noise out and focus on my manuscript.

EE: Who is your favorite author or who do you think you write most like?

ESC: I have a lot of respect for M.C. Beaton as a modern mystery writer. And Agatha Christie is the writer who made me want to write mysteries. I'd love to write at the level of Anne George...that's my aspiration.

EE: If you could live anywhere in the world, where and why?

ESC: This is going to sound unimaginative, but I'd want to stay right here in the Carolinas. The weather is just about perfect, the people are friendly, the beach and mountains are both easily accessible. I'd just stay put and call myself lucky. :)

Elizabeth, thanks for being a guest on my blog today and I wish much success in this endeavor. E :)

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Elysabeth! It's been a pleasure. :)

Elizabeth’s latest book, Hickory Smoked Homicide, was released November 1. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (June 2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently.

She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder.

Writer's Knowledge Base--the Search Engine for Writers
Twitter: @elizabethscraig


Margot Kinberg said...

Elysabeth - Thanks for hosting Elizabeth.

Elizabeth - Thanks for sharing the way you juggle writing different series. It makes me tired just reading about it! And I am so glad there's going to be a fourth Memphis Barbecue Mystery! Folks that's a great series!

elysabeth said...

Margot, thanks for stopping by. I've only read the first in the BBQ series and enjoyed it. I'm behind on my reading big time. I'll have to get more and read them on my kindle.

Elizabeth is a busy woman - writing under two names and three series at a time plus juggling family and socialization and other aspects of life in general. It makes me tired just thinking about it. I barely can juggle one series and other writings but I guess we do what we have to do - E :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Margot--Thanks so much for coming by! And thanks for the kind words on the Memphis BBQ series. :)

Elysabeth--It looks like you're extremely productive, to me! You've got a ton of titles out, in more than one genre. :)

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

Journaling Woman said...

Hi, Elysabeth, thanks for hosting.

Elizabeth, If anyone can keep track of which book you're writing on, it's you. You're very organized.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Journaling Woman--Thanks so much, Teresa! Sometimes I feel less-than-organized (this was one of those wild mornings where I had to go in the high school to bring my son his Geometry study guide and into the elementary school to find my daughter's jacket in the lost and found....) so I needed to hear that! I think I stay organized 80% of the time, then there's 20% complete chaos. :)

elysabeth said...

Elizabeth, A ton of titles does not productive make - they are all short stories and really only in 3 genres right now - my state stories are children's books (all at 100 pages, illustrated, and less than 10,000 words each); a YA paranormal mystery (my only novel to date), and three short stories all romance stories that were contest winners or selections for anthologies - so all have been previously published - I just have republished them recently.

and I had to laugh at your comment about 80% organization and 20% chaos - isn't that typical mom stuff?

Teresa, thanks for stopping by and see even amid all the chaos, Elizabeth still has a pretty good sense of humor - E ;)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Elysabeth--You know, short stories are tough to write. At least, for me! There's something about the instant characterization, fast pace, and tight plot that really makes for a challenge.

Yep, I think that's typical mom stuff. :) Last week was particularly wild so I'm hoping this one will be much quieter!

Krista said...

Just wanted to pipe up here and say that I was lucky enough to get a prepublication read of Quilt or Innocence and it's wonderful. I didn't want to leave the quilters when it ended.

~ Krista Davis

Donna M. McDine said...

Hi Elysabeth,

Thank you for interviewing Elizabeth and bringing her to my attention. Her books sounds fascinating.


Kudos for keeping your identifies straight!

Best regards,
Award-winning Children’s Author
The Golden Pathway story book Blog
Write What Inspires You Blog

Marilyn Levinson said...

Great interview! I'm so impressed by how well you not only manage to write your series but handle your busy life.

NancyCL said...

Thanks so much! I can't wait to read more of your books. But, do you have any time for yourself?

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Krista--Thanks so much! I really appreciate that. :)

Donna--Thanks for coming by!

Marilyn--Thanks! I think flexibility helps...which is tough for me, but the more flexible I am, the better!

Nancy--Not so much right now. I try to look at writing as "me time." But I'll probably need a good vacation at some point!