Betty Jean Craige, Author Spotlight

In this tale of two intertwined crimes, the consequences of a 1968 Ku Klux Klan murder and rape in Witherston, Georgia, come back to haunt the town some fifty years later. The body of Crockett Wood, a member of a radical white supremacist group called Saxxons for America, is found in his dilapidated outhouse, shot in the heart. Then a local candidate for mayor turns up missing in the midst of rumors of a scandal in his youth. As Detective Mev Arroyo and her teenage twins, Jorge and Jamie, dig for the truth, they uncover a past filled with bigotry, betrayal, and deceit, revolving around the 1968 murder of a black man and the rape and disappearance of his pregnant white fiancée. Is Crockett Wood responsible for the murder and rape so long ago, or did he perhaps identify the guilty party and was shot to ensure his silence? After all, it’s an election year in Witherston, and some people will do a lot more than commit murder to keep their dirty little secrets 

Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Betty Jean Craige whose book Saxxons in Witherston thrilled and compelled me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love mystery but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and Betty Jean Craige will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Betty Jean Craige!

Betty Jean Craige is University Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia. She lives in Athens, Georgia, with Cosmo, a very talkative African Grey Parrot.

Her non-academic books include Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot; the thriller Aldo; and the four Witherston murder mysteries Downstream, Fairfield’s Auction, Dam Witherston, and Saxxons in Witherston, all published by Black Opal Books. Witherston is a small town she imagined in the beautiful north Georgia mountains where the mysteries of the past float into the present.

Fairfield’s Auction won First Place in the 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards in Mystery and Mayhem. Dam Witherston was named Winner of the 2018 New York City Big Book Awards in Mystery, Honorable Mention in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards in Mystery, and Distinguished Favorite in the 2018 Independent Press Awards in Mystery. Aldo won Distinguished Favorite in the 2018 New York City Big Book Awards in Mystery and Second Place in the 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards in both Mystery and Science Fiction. Saxxons in Witherston received a 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite.

Visit Betty Jean on her website:

Now, how wonderful does Betty Jean Craige sound?! Betty Jean Craige is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy Betty Jean Craige’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!

Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.

I retired from the University of Georgia in 2011 as University Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. Since then I have published five novels: four Witherston Murder Mysteries and a suspense-thriller novel about genome therapy called Aldo.

I live with a talkative African Grey parrot named Cosmo. I enjoy cooking, traveling, reading, and watching movies.

Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?

Saxxons in Witherston is the fourth in the Witherston Murder Mystery series.

In 2013 my local newspaper canceled my Sunday column “Cosmo Talks,” in which I wrote about my talkative African Grey parrot Cosmo and other communicative and intelligent animal species. Wondering what I should do next I took the advice of my novelist friend Terry Kay—”Write fiction”—and wrote a murder mystery. Set in a small town in mountainous Georgia, Downstream focuses on the murder of a billionaire centenarian and the environmental pollution his investment in pharmaceutical companies has brought about. The novel is distinguished by the online source of everybody’s news, “Witherston on the Web,” which publishes news reports, weather forecasts, obituaries, cartoons, and a daily column on north Georgia’s history. The sleuths are Detective Mev Arroyo, her twin sons Jaime and Jorge, and their eccentric and lovable Aunt Lottie, author of the history column.

The next three mysteries, Fairfield’s Auction, Dam Witherston, and Saxxons in Witherston, which feature the same characters, address other threats to the health of communities, such as the destruction of the Cherokee culture and the revival of white supremacy.

All of the mysteries bring the past into the present. Saxxons in Witherston, for example, uncovers events in the 1920s and 1960s that help explain the murder of 2018.

What would your advice be for aspiring writers?

“Write what you want to learn about.”

In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?

Of course, I write mysteries, not Pullitzer Prize-winning fiction.

In writing these books I’ve striven both to entertain my readers, with humor, suspense, and an intriguing plot, and stimulate them intellectually to think about compelling social issues. What’s most important to me? That my readers really enjoy the book, learn something new, and close the book with new ideas.

What is your writing process like?

By the time I began writing Saxxons in Witherston, I had a detailed timeline stretching from 1798, when Hearty Withers was born, to 1918, when Francis Hearty Withers (the murder victim in Downstream) died. I started the timeline/genealogy when writing that first novel and added on to it with each subsequent novel.

As I create a new mystery I must make sure that the story accords with this timeline, particularly since I incorporate actually historical events into the stories. Each novel brings into the present the consequences of characters’ actions in previous time periods. Then I start writing, imagining the characters’ interactions with each other and with actual events.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do research as I write. When I find I need to learn about moonshiners and bootleggers, for example, I stop and read what I can find on the web. The New Georgia Encyclopedia has been extremely useful to me, since I’ve set my Witherston mysteries in north Georgia.

Writing mysteries is unlike writing academic books, for which one must do lots of research before writing.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?

Once I’ve started writing a novel, I can’t stop. The computer is a magnet for me. Whenever I have a spare 15 minutes I’m at the computer reading what I’ve written and composing more of the story.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

These days I read mysteries more often than other kinds of fiction. My favorite mystery at the moment is Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing.

Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you? 

Who knows?

Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Betty Jean Craige! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.

Goodbye for now book lovers,

Amazon U.S. – Amazon U.K. – Goodreads

Author: Website

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