Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bette Lee Crosby - Author, Artist, And Clever Philosopher With An Aptitude For Finding Perfect Spots To Commit Murder!

Bette Lee Crosby
Darlings, you are in for another fabulous treat - Bette Lee Crosby!

Mme. Perry:  It was lovely to meet you at Book Expo America 2014 in New York and find we have a mutual friend in AuthorsOn The Air host Pam Stack.  Thank you for visiting here at my salon.

Bette Lee Crosby:  It’s a pleasure to be here. I enjoy connecting with readers and since I am a big fan of the 20’s and 30’s it is especially lovely to be invited to a Salon. I feel a bit like Owen Wilson in Midnight In Paris.

BLC: Indeed it does. You might think it gets to be old hat, but that’s not true. Every time I have a book that’s a finalist in a competition, I get butterflies in my stomach before the award ceremony even starts. This past weekend we attended the Royal Palm LiteraryAwards and I had two books in the finals. When they announced that Jubilee’s Journey was the First Place Winner for Mainstream Fiction I wanted to jump up and down. Since I was wearing high heel sandals, I controlled the impulse- but I did have a mile-wide smile on my face when I walked up to the podium. 

Any time anyone pays special recognition to your work, it is an honor. It rewards the time and effort you put into making that book the best it could be. The same is true whether it is a gold medal or a fan letter. It makes my day when I get a letter from one of my readers saying they cried or laughed out loud as they read one of my books. When a reader cares enough to plunk down good money to buy your book, that’s true recognition.

 MP: Spare Change, the first book of the Wyattsville Series, is fast paced and full of idiosyncratic and distinctive characters. Olivia Westerly’s life has been anything but conventional. She is disowned by her father as she leaves home in pursuit of a job he finds scandalous, marries at a much later age than most, and on her honeymoon she becomes, in short order, a widow and a full-time stepmother when the orphaned grandson of her deceased husband shows up on her doorstep. 

It is refreshing to find such an atypical premise for a novel, Bette. Did a situation like this actually happen to someone you knew?

BLC: Not really, but I do enjoy looking at the unexpected twists and turns of life. That’s a theme you’ll find in almost all of my novels. One of my favorite sayings is, “Life is all about how you handle plan B.”

I will however share what inspired me to write the story as I did. My husband and I were visiting friends on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and as we drove down this very long, very isolated strip of land I thought a murder could happen out here and no one would know it. That was the seed that gave Spare Change a start in my mind. 

MP: Ah, yes! I love that authentic author's mind, just riding along and envisioning a crime! And your Plan B philosophy? Brilliant!

The grandson, Ethan, is carrying the weight of dealing with some intense adult situations without the benefit of good, adult role models. You drew him in a manner that successfully helps to carry the story. Surely your readers must comment often on your understanding of human temperament in all its many facets and the unexpected as well as serendipitous nature of human interactions. 

BLC: I believe there is no such thing as an all good or all bad person and I try to show that in my characters. I have gotten a few comments criticizing the fact that Ethan Allen uses foul language, but that’s what is true to his nature. He grew up in that environment and it’s what he knew.  The story would not have the impact it has if in the face of adversity he said, “Oh shucks.”

I live with each and every one of my characters long before I start to actually write the book. I spend a lot of time thinking about how they feel and how they will react to any given situation. I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what they look like, because that’s not what is important. The truth of a person is always found on the inside, not the outside.

 MP: How many books have you written?

 BLC: If you count my earlier manuscripts, which I look back on as little more than a learning curve, it is fourteen or fifteen. Only eight are published, but the ninth novel is due out on January 14th.

Spare Change was the first book in the WyattsvilleSeries, Jubilee’s Journey was book 2 and Passing through Perfect will be book 3. Although they are tied together with a silken thread, any of these books are easily read as a standalone novel.

MP: I look at a lot of author websites, but yours is the first to feature Mid-Week Mixers. Whose fabulous idea was that? 

BLC: My favorite day of the month is the day our local book club meets. It’s not just about the book. It’s about the friendship, the socializing, the glass of wine and puff pastry we share. I wanted my blog to be something like those book club meetings.  Sure, there are books, but there’s also so much more.  When readers visit my blog, I hope they feel as if they are visiting me in my living room.

MP: It appears to me that you probably knew from a very early age that you were a writer. Do you remember the first authors of whom you were a fan, and why you loved their books?

BLC: I hope you are ready for a good laugh. I studied to be an artist. My first job was designing soft goods and pantyhose packaging. I was young and shy and when I’d tell the salesmen I need copy for the back of the package, they’d wave me off and say “make something up. Whatever you write is good enough. Once I started to write I discovered a true love of words. They were like a paintbrush in my hands and I had a million different colors to work with.

The person who truly inspired my love for storytelling was my mom. She grew up in the mountains of West Virginia and did not have a formal education. Although she never wrote anything more than a letter, she could tell stories more magical than you’d imagine possible.

MP: That was an unexpected answer and an extraordinary start to your superb career. Fantastic story! Thank you for visiting Madame Perry’s Salon. Please visit again, and I hope to see you next year in New York.

BLC: It has been delightful. I especially love the salon effect here on your blog. I shall certainly look for you at the next Book Expo.

You can enter Bette Lee Crosby's marvelous world of books, mid-week mixers and fun events at her website, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, goodreads, google+, Pinterest and instagram!