I am thrilled today to welcome Elizabeth Craig to Escape With Dollycas.
Her Southern Quilting Mysteries are so much fun!
Writing the South?
You’ve Got Heaps of Material
By Elizabeth S. Craig
Why do I pick Southern settings for my books? Well, for one thing, it’s the only area of the world that I can write about with any degree of authority. As a lifelong Southerner, and an observer of all the South’s fun and foibles, it’s only natural I’d pick the settings I do.
For another—let’s face it. There’s just a lot of material to write about here. Everyone has at least one relative who’s a little bit batty (I claim several), there are family secrets, gossip, interesting diction choices, and quite-involved traditions and customs.
In many ways, the South is very old-fashioned. Most ladies of a particular age still adhere to the no-white-shoes-after-Labor Day rule. Even if you don’t wear pantyhose to work, you should wear it to church and funerals. And nobody wears white at weddings but the bride (wearing black at weddings is considered bad luck.) Take down the Christmas tree by New Year’s Day or else you’re cursed with bad luck for the year. Actually, there are a whole bunch of traditions related to luck and superstition. Eating black-eyed peas at New Year’s is another (this is one you should do, instead of avoid.)
Am I the only one here who was threatened with charm school when I used bad manners as a child? Children are cajoled and scolded into good behavior with plenty of ma’ams and sirs thrown in for good measure—and charm school is still around. Except now I think they call it etiquette class or something. Which doesn’t have the same appeal, to me, somehow.
So for this new book, Knot What It Seams, I figured I’d have to include a smattering of Southern funeral tradition. It might also be tradition where you live, and if it is, I’d love to hear it…or how your traditions differ. Although I only touched on this in the new book, most of my books include Southern funerals. They’re just so distinctive and such occasions for both grief and celebration that it’s tough to leave them out.
Funerals here in the South are occasions for food. Food is considered an amazing balm for the troubled spirit, here. The interesting thing is how heavy the food typically is—you’d think we’d all be a lot more health-conscious since we’ve got funerals on the brain. But there are no antioxidant super foods to be found after Southern funerals. There are plenty of casseroles, brought over by your neighbors, coworkers, church friends, family, and friends—thoughtfully put in throwaway containers with reheating instructions on them. My character in the new books, Meadow, mentions “a cornucopia of lovingly donated casseroles.”
And there will be ham. If you’ve lost a loved one here, the church ladies will descend upon your house with fiercely tender efficiency. They’ll organize the food, freezing some and putting others in the fridge. After your funeral when everyone drops by your house to be fed (does this happen elsewhere, too?), the church ladies will command your kitchen for you, shooing you out gently but firmly as they create a buffet line and serve plates of food to your grieving guests. Eventually, a party-like atmosphere may commence (particularly if the deceased was of an advanced age and the death was not an especially tragic occurrence.) It will be the first time many have seen their cousins and great aunts for years and they can’t resist the temptation to celebrate, despite their grief. Besides, Me-maw would have celebrated, too.
What about where you live? Have you got special customs related to weddings or funerals? What are they like?
Thank you so much Elizabeth for visiting today. Ham and church ladies run rampant here after funerals here in Wisconsin too:)
About This Author
Elizabeth’s latest book is Knot What it Seams, which released February 5. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently.
Facebook: Riley Adams Author and Elizabeth Spann Craig Author.
Knot What It Seams:
A Southern Quilting Mystery
2nd in Series
Obsidian (February 5, 2013)
Published by New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: 716 KB
When former folk art curator Beatrice Coleman retired to Dappled Hills, North Carolina, for peace and quiet and quilting, she never expected that murder would disturb the peace…
Meadow Downey is on a quest to recruit new members for the Village Quilters Guild. She sets her sights on Jo Paxton, mail carrier, quilter, and judge for many of the nearby quilting contests. She is a much better quilter than mail carrier but all that mail gives her just enough information to cause trouble wherever she goes. Beatrice wonders if Jo is the right fit for the close knit Village Quilters. Before she can voice her concerns to Meadow Jo is killed in a car accident. Evidence shows that Jo’s crash was no accident – someone tampered with her vehicle. Meadow is sure someone is out to kill off the members of her guild. It is time for Beatrice to piece together some clues and pin down the killer before another quilter’s life is cut short.
Never a dull moment in Dappled Hills. Thankfully Police Chief Downey can filter his wife’s comical hysteria and has an open enough mind to listen to Beatrice’s theories.
Beatrice has quickly made herself at home in her new town and is even learning to quilt. Meadow and Ramsey are the perfect couple. She is absolutely as crazy as the quilts she creates and always up to something. Ramsey is calm, cool and collected, and reads poetry to relax after a hard day of fighting crime. Miss Sissy is my absolute favorite character. She is off beat and unpredictable and I love her. Jo was a fabulous character as well. A true troublemaker. Too bad she had to die.
Craig’s whodunit was full of misdirection and curves with bits of humor sewn right in. There is a true Southern feel to the characters and events. More like Southern chaos instead of Southern charm. A fun and entertaining story. These are characters I can’t wait to visit again.
Would you like to win a copy of this wonderful book?
Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!
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What about where you live?
Have you got special customs related to weddings or funerals? What are they like?
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”