Q&A with Laura Bradford aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey - Dark Streets
1) Tell us a little about your background – what got you interested in writing as a career?
I was ten years old when I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I never strayed from that path. In the beginning, I thought I’d go toward children’s writing, but in the end, when I really looked at what I enjoyed reading, I went the route of mystery.
To pay the bills out of college, I worked as journalist, but once I left that world to be a mom, I started getting serious about that fiction-writing dream.
2) As Laura Bradford, you write the Amish Mystery series; As Elizabeth Lynn Casey, you write the Southern Sewing Circle mysteries. How did both those diverse series come about?
The Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries is an in-house series for Berkley Prime Crime which explains the pen-name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey (a mash up of my daughters’ middle names and a nod to be grandparents all in one place). Honestly, when my agent first proposed this series to me in 2008, I almost didn’t submit a proposal. I didn’t sew, so I didn’t think I could write them. But that little voice inside my head, urged me to try it…to make it my own. And so I steered the proposal toward the socialization aspect of a sewing group more than the sewing, itself and it paid off. WEDDING DURESS, the 10th book in the series, just released last month. And two more books in the series are in the works.
The Amish Mysteries (written under my real name, Laura Bradford) is really a personal nod to my love of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always fascinated with the simple life. With my Amish Mysteries, I can explore that “simple life” juxtaposed against a modern world. I love everything about writing this series—the research I do before each book, the characters, the chance to educate people about the Amish lifestyle, and so much more. The Amish, by their very lifestyle, are almost ripe for the picking with crime, so they lend themselves well to cozy mysteries. Add in the fact that my book isn’t ruled by the constraints (or benefits) of today’s technology and I have a whole lot of fun with these books.
3) Tell us about your latest book(s) – Suspendered Sentence and Wedding Duress.
SUSPENDERED SENTENCE is the fourth book in my Amish Mysteries. Here’s the way it came to me in my head and why I had to write it…
Nineteen years ago, Sadie Lehman simply up and disappeared during her Rumspringa in the Amish community of Heavenly, Pennsylvania. Led to believe Sadie had gotten caught up in the English world, the girl’s mother, Waneta, clung to hope that one day Sadie would come back.
Yet while Waneta prayed for a reunion, Sadie’s friends hoped for something very different—that Sadie’s body would never be discovered.
Gives you chills, doesn’t it? If you haven’t read SUSPENDERED SENTENCE yet, I hope you give it a try. It’s gotten some really fantastic reviews and my readers are already clamoring for the next book (due out in March 2016).
WEDDING DURESS is the 10th book in my Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey). In this book, my series’ main character, Tori Sinclair is finally getting married to third grade teacher, Milo Wentworth. The bridesmaid dresses are ready, the rings are ready, the vows are written, and there’s even a surprise bridal shower in the works. But before Tori can walk down the aisle, she must figure out who killed Beatrice’s childhood nanny.
4) Do you sew in real life? What sort of hobbies do you have?
I’m not a seamstress but I play one in books. :) As for hobbies, I love to bake, read, play games, decorate cakes, and travel.
5) How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I always start out with some idea about each character, but their true essence is revealed to me in the writing process. Sometimes I find the need to give them a particular nuance that I don’t understand at the time, but invariably the reason behind that nuance always reveals itself. Kind of weird, I know, but oh so cool when it happens!
6) How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
My plot always comes from a small nugget. In Suspendered Sentence, that initial nugget was the notion of a group of teenagers leading a family to believe their child had simply run away when they knew that wasn’t the case. The nugget always kicks off a series of questions in my head—questions I’m propelled to answer (why did they keep quiet? What really happened?).
I always know the who and why behind the crime when I start. Everything else happens as I write. That said, I do utilize a bullet point system as I go. I’ll bullet-point out “have to happen” moments in each chapter, five chapters at a time. It’s not as constraining as an outline for me, yet still keeps me on task.
7) Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
I think they’re both important, however, in a series, if your readers don’t care about your characters, they won’t pick up the next book.
8) What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
If I could no longer write for some reason, I would bake. Something about baking just makes me incredibly happy.
9) What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What’s a favorite memory from your journey as an author thus far? My answer: getting to speak to Mary Higgins Clark on the telephone—Harlan Coben’s telephone, to be exact.
10) Where can we learn more about you and your books?
You can learn more about me and my books by visiting my website: www.laurabradford.com. There you can find all of the books I’ve written with links for more information on each title, a printable book list to make shopping easier, a fairly amusing bio (alongside the more official one), an event schedule, an opportunity to sign up for my several-times-a-year E-newsletter, and a super fun page devoted entirely to my Amish series (including a clickable map of Heavenly, PA, the town in which my series takes place).
In addition to my website, I have an active Facebook page that I frequent daily: https://www.facebook.com/laurabradfordauthor
And, finally, I’m on Twitter, although I’m not the best Tweeter: @bradfordauthor
Laura/Elizabeth writes the Amish Mysteries and the Southern Circle Sewing Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.