Elizabeth Spann Craig (Guest Blogger)
This is a two-part blog. More coming tomorrow, so don't forget to check back.
Elizabeth Spann Craig is the author of the August Midnight Ink release Pretty is as Pretty Dies and the upcoming Memphis Barbeque mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime (written under her Riley Adams pen name.)
She’s the mother of two and currently lives in Matthews, North Carolina. Between juggling room mom duties, refereeing play dates, and being dragged along as chaperone/hostage on field trips, she dreams of dark and stormy nights beside stacks of intriguing mysteries with excellent opening lines.
Writing, in many ways, has completely taken over my life. There aren’t many minutes in the day when I’m not mulling over a plot point, weaving random ideas and dialogue into my book, or scribbling crazy little notes to myself that only I understand.
Occasionally, like most obsessions, I carry things just a little too far. Sometimes my writing methods get me into some trouble:
I become enthralled by people who remind me of characters: to the point of not actually listening very closely to them.
People fascinate me. And too frequently now I size them up to see how they’d fit into my book. What a wonderful lisp! Or, “What a pompous bore. He’d be great to add a little conflict to that party scene of mine. He could even be killed at the party! He’d make the perfect victim.”
I’ve gotten in trouble with this habit of mine before. I was at my son’s soccer practice and a woman came up, introduced herself, and started launching into a longish monologue. I was struck by the fact that she looked exactly like Camilla (the Prince of Wales’ wife.) It was incredible! Her gruff voice (I had no idea what she was saying, but I loved the way she sounded), aristocratically thin and horsey appearance—it all combined to give her this amazing similarity to Camilla. She moved with a rough elegance that amazed me.
I learned a sad lesson later when I discovered she’d been talking to me about the soccer snack schedule and I didn’t have the snack the following week at practice.
I snap pictures of interesting people.
This has yet to get me in trouble, but I’m sure my day is coming. At first I took pictures of interesting places for my files. I love dark places, abandoned barns, old houses that are falling apart, tired-looking architecture from long ago. Then I graduated to people. I kept finding unusual people around. Sometimes I’ve got my camera out anyway and it’s not that noticeable (I don’t think, anyway) what I’m taking a picture of.
The elderly gentleman above was a very interesting man I saw at a large amusement park a few weeks ago. He had the requisite black socks pulled up too high, was eating a lollypop, and shared his table with an egret. He also had a purse. He had to have his picture taken!
Unfortunately, he was already quite suspicious of me because…well, because I was staring at him. My social skills since becoming a writing enthusiast have definitely gone out the window.
I carefully looked in completely the opposite direction, leaning my chin on my hand. I snapped the picture with the other hand. As you see, the picture didn’t turn out exactly as I planned. Since, of course, I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder. But my second picture turned out much better. I won’t share that one here. But he was a wonderful character. Too bad he ran away from me as fast as he could.
Your name? Your child’s name? Your funny turn of phrase? Your eccentric habit? Look out, they may become my material.
I’m particularly looking out for things that get under people’s skin on an everyday basis—it might be enough to commit murder under, in the right circumstances. Just the final straw to push someone over the edge. Or enough to add a bit of side-drama to my book—like the gnomes in my recent release, Pretty is as Pretty Dies.
They came about right after a friend complained bitterly about her neighbor’s yard art. I decided yard gnomes would be the perfect way for my sleuth to get back at her interfering son. The fractious book club in my novel? It was inspired by a club that actually did exist…until the members became so irritated with each other that the club folded.
Am I alone in this odd behavior? Do you have any writing obsessions or eccentricities you’d like to share? Be sure to check back in tomorrow for more ways I’ve complicated my life with my obsession.
Elizabeth Spann Craig's web site.