Elizabeth is the bestselling cozy mystery author of the Southern Quilting mysteries, Myrtle Clover Cozy Mysteries, the Village Library Mysteries, and Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. She blogs at ElizabethSpannCraig.com/blog , named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. She curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine WritersKB.com. Elizabeth makes her home in Matthews, North Carolina, with her husband. She is the mother of two.
1) When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
I’m one of those writers who has always been a writer. I knew in elementary school that writing is what I wanted to do. I frequently say that I’m a one-trick pony, but that it’s a pretty good trick. The best part about writing is connecting with readers through my stories. I absolutely love that. Even when I was a kid, I loved sharing my work with others…my writing was never something I wanted to keep to myself.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I write cozy mysteries and currently have three active series I’m working on. Readers can solve the mysteries along by following the clues to the puzzle with the sleuths (who are gifted amateurs) from the safety of their armchairs. My website is the best place to learn more, at www.elizabethspanncraig.com
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently editing one book (Embroidering the Truth), outlining another (Knot a Clue), and writing a third (Borrowed Time).
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
I think I’m most proud of the way I was able to transition from traditionally-published with a Big 5 publisher to self-published…and the success I was able to achieve working completely on my own. In the next five years, I see myself maintaining my writing schedule, producing approximately 20-25 more books in that span of time and hopefully growing foreign sales.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
If anything, I think rejection made me more determined. It made me double-down and query agents and publishers with even more vigor and focus until I was able to secure publishing contracts. I’m also not one to shy away from negative reader reviews, another form of rejection, instead using them to grow as a writer and adapt to reader preferences.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I’ve found that my own “magic hours” for when I’m most productive are first thing in the morning and very early. That way I’m not responding to anyone else, I’m only focused on my own work…at 5:00 a.m. But everyone has their own magic hours and I try to encourage writers to experiment and find what works best for them. After years of being a “pantster,” I started outlining about eight years ago. I’ve found that it helps me work faster and that I don’t run into the plot holes I used to experience when I was just making up my story as I went along. Generally speaking, it takes me about 3 months to write and edit a book.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
No, I feel that writing is one of the few careers where age really isn’t significant. You can be very young and very old and be successful as an author. Older writers might have something of an advantage in that they’ve lived a lot and in that time have received a range of influences and consumed a lot of different stories in all forms.
8) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
I think the biggest impact on me in terms of spurring me to start writing myself were the kids’ mysteries: Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, etc. In terms of a book that emotionally connected with me very early? I’d say The Wind in the Willows, which is the type of friendship story that still influences my writing today. My favorite author is Agatha Christie because of the legacy she left for mystery writing. Currently, I’m reading Rachel Howzell Hall’s They All Fall Down, an Agatha-esque mystery that’s really kept me turning pages.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book?
Ha! No way. I’d rather have dental work done. 🙂 It’s painful for most writers to read their own stories.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing?
I love the direction publishing has taken and feel it’s easier for readers to find stories in a particular niche. In a lot of ways, publishing’s changes shadow independent music and independent film. It makes for a lot more diversity in story and more creative work. Publishing needs to stay relevant in order to continue appealing to an audience that has a lot of competition for their time from other forms of media.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I think it’s the fact that my characters have conversations with each other that I have to quickly transcribe. It’s the way they’ve come to life…not just for me, but for my readers. I feel as if I know the characters, as if they’re old friends of mine. As far as writing empowering me, I believe that just the act of writing means that I’m using what I see as my one gift to connect with others through my characters. And that, for me, is what it’s all about.