Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Elise Crawford, my pen last name is Crawford and my married last name is Martinez.
I am as old as Cool Whip and the Super Bowl.
Fiona: Where are you from?
My paternal grandparents immigrated from Northern Finland, they missed their boat to America because my great grandmother had the flu and she wasn’t allowed passage. Lucky thing too because my family would have been 3rd class passengers on the Titanic and I wouldn’t have a memoir to write.
My maternal grandmother, a sorority beauty and aspiring actress at the U of W, opted to marry a fraternity brat instead of running off to Hollywood with her BFF, Frances Farmer.
Both of my maternal grandparents’ relatives were among the founding families of West Seattle.
I was conceived in a janitors closet of a state mental hospital. My father helped my mother escape and was I born in Detroit Michigan. Three years later, my mother moved back to Seattle with me and my little sister.
Currently, my husband and I live in Woodinville WA.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Although not formally educated as a writer, Elise has been writing creative fiction since she was eight years old. Elise holds several Associates of Arts degrees; one in Liberal Arts, two in Social Sciences, and one Technical. Throughout her college education she maintained her membership with the Phi Theta Kappa Honor society while raising her two children single-handedly and working on the college campus part-time teaching college level English to fellow ESL students.
She and her husband Roberto reside in Woodinville Washington where they produce and manufacture cedar oil products. Their CEDAR-AL business continues to flourish and prosper, http://www.cedaroil.com.
Elise has two grown children; a son, Dale, and a daughter, Lexi.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I finished my second book, Wildflower,June 2018, it is my complete memoir. Iadded excerpts of the most compelling scenes from my partial memoir,A Promise Kept. I am currently sending query letters to agents and learning how to write a proposal for a memoir if they should ask for one. I will begin working on a third book in 2019, With OnlyA Horse, a truth is stranger than fiction novel, based on true events, and embellished with a fictitious flair.I’m presently interviewing people and researching Mexican culture for that story. And finally, I’ve written several children’s books and my sister Cassie is currently creating the illustrations for them. We hope they are published in 2019.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The day I received a letter A Promise Kept had been nominated for and won a gold medal for Readers Favorite in 2010.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?When and why did you begin writing?
I had a persistent dream about my first book just days after my fiancé was murdered. I saw it as clear as day, the beginning to the end, the book cover, the title and its placement, the format of the contents, the main text, the index, the whole thing.It was so impressed in my mind I couldn’t forget it even if I wanted to. I thought about it often but couldn’t wrap my mind around how someone with limited education went about writing a book.I was convinced such a craft belonged in the hands of a more cultured person and disregarded the notion as only a dream, shoving the thought to the furthest corner of my mind, for seven more years.
Until I met Roberto, a fellow widower, with a head-strong wit that surpassed my own. We shared a parallel experience so profound, only a fellow traveller on the same journey could comprehend its complexity and the turning point in one’s life. He said it took several years to face his own reality and to heal. Mindful of the consequences of denial, he made it his mission, or obsession, I begin the process I so wanted to avoid. His lure was through my book, always needling me to get going on it.
To test unfamiliar waters as an inexperienced writer, I self-published a portion of my memoir in 2009, A Promise Kept. The following year, it won a gold medal for Reader’s Favorite, received many positive reviews, had articles written about it in MORE magazine and a local paper, The Everett Herald, and the National Association of Professional Women featured me as author of the month.
Since my writing debut, I’ve gained a collective social media following of over four thousand and the confidence to complete my memoir. In 2014 Ibegan by adding excerpts of the most compelling scenes from my first book and wrote a mind-blowing beginning. But I was at a loss of how to end it until 2016, and…well, you’ll have to read it to find out.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For my partial memoir I titled it A Promise Keptbecausemy fiancé made a promise that my children and I would always be loved and taken care of, even after his death he continues to keep his promise.
For my complete memoir, Wildflower, the title didn’t come to me until after I’d finished it. If there was a theme song for my memoir, this 70s song would be it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ8n_Esop5I
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Thankfully, I’ve never experienced writers block. I create an outline to use as a road map and develop scenes wherever the spirit moves me that day. I never start at the beginning.Once I have an idea of what I am to write about, the voice I’m going to use, and the setting, I design my outline, gather as much information as I can through research (highlighting, copying, dog-earing) and then I fill in my outline. It’s easy to finish the book from there.
I like to free write on a yellow legal pad first and then type. From there I copy and paste what I wrote for the day and put it into the story where it fits.When I get going, whetherwriting or typing, my fingers fly over the tablet or keyboard as if I’m transcribing a book already written. Sometimes I can’t keep up when writing long hand and the words look like chicken scratch. It gives ghost writing a whole new meaning.
And I never edit. Not until the book is finished. Ironically, most of what is written needs minor editing, pretty good for not finishing the 9th grade, or not knowing an adjective from an acronym.
I studied the craft of how to write creative nonfiction through online courses and became excited about that genre. When writing non-fiction, I think it’s especially important to present authentic and descriptive facts as you weave your story, bringing characters and places of interest alive in the reader’s eye. For my memoir, I used first person, my voice.
I applied what I learnedwhen I wrote my memoir, so it reads more like a fictional, psychotic thriller, sprinkled with just enough humor and romance to take the edge off.
I’m excited to use the same technique for my next story, With Only A Horse, a truth is stranger than fiction novel, based on true events, and embellished with a fictitious flair.I think I will use 3rd person omniscient for this story.
The book “The Writer’s Little Helper” by Smith has been extremely helpful.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’ve addressed that question in the Foreword of my memoir:
This isa painstakingly true story of how the author—guided by the power of faith—comes to terms with the skeletons of her childhood to inspire hope and encouragement in the hearts of other survivors of mental illness, family dysfunction, death, and traumatic abuse.
Some names and detailed descriptions of certain characters’ in this story have been withheld to protect the identity of the sources. I have tried in good faith to recreate events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them, from the stories my mother told me, extensive research, public records, and from interviews with family members.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead should be plainly apparent to them and those who know them. All events described within happened, though, on occasion, I have taken certain, very small, liberties with chronology and detail.
My tale is not unusual; in fact, it’s just another story about one’s internal strength, endurance, and ability to overcome adversity in the face of a string of incredibly unfortunate events.
It is my hope this story speaks to your heart. And, when facing any challenging situation, I hope my struggles are just enough for you to relate to, to seek hope from, to encourage you to continue forward, and to not give up.
Above all, if sharing my story makes a difference in one person’s life, then my convoluted journey was not in vain.
May God’s light always shine upon you, bring love and peace to all, and like Zig Ziglar once said, “I’ll See You at The Top,”
Elise Crawford, A Promise Kept
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I like to work with the cover artist, I give them my idea and they run with it. For Wildflower, I envision a field of wildflowers and a picture of a small girl’s hands picking them, we’ll see . . .
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Only a very few will identify with my memoir. It is for them I set the skeletons free.
My intention was to reach deep into the hearts of those few readers toencourage them to cry and grieve with me, with the hope they’ll process their own sorrow and begin healing. I hope to encourage them to continuemoving forward and not give up as stifling can destroy a person.
Above all, I’d like to assure themtheir reactions to their experiences are normal, they aren’t crazy, and they are not alone;that is the message; no preaching, no antidotes, only to say that there is hope.
If my story makes a difference it at least one person’s life, then the process of revisiting my inner demons was not in vain.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I like Emily Dickinson the best. Her poem, I’m Nobody! Who are you? is my favorite because she proudly declares her ordinariness, her likeness to everyone else rather than her uniqueness. If you can imagine what it’s like for the well known to live in a fishbowl,never getting time to themselves, like Princess Diana for example; I’d rather be a nobody any day.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My copyeditor. I hired her to work on my MS November 2018. Afterwards, in a twist of fate, her husband unexpectantly and suddenly passed away.The part of my story where I processed through my own loss, prepared her for what was to come just days later; there is no such thing as a coincidence.
I’ll let her speak for herself:
This is her professional review of Wildflower:
Elise Crawford is a born storyteller, weaving her way into the hearts of her readers.
This is a true story and deals with, at times, a dark reality; yet, it is also a book filled with promise, and rays of sunshine, hope, faith and love. Elisesimply and honestly tells her tale in a voice of innocence, trust, and courage, revealing her fears and vulnerabilities as well as her strength, courage, and determination. As I read, I found myself crying – alternating between tears of empathy and compassion and the tears that come with laughing so hard my sides hurt. Light and dark, funny and sad, Wildflower is a powerful, must-readbook, written by an amazing woman.
Mary Anne Pester, Copy Editor, Proofreader www.fourpennypages.com
This is her personal review of Wildflower:
You are such an incredible writer, Elise; there is an Irish word for it”Seanchaí” (see KNOCK ee) a storyteller who is a passionate bearer of remembered thoughts, weaving a tale that engages the imagination and allows the reader to create his or her own person experience from the story.
That is truly what you do; even though I have read the story from beginning to end several times, each time is as though it is the first.
You are, without a doubt, a woman of true grace and courage; dignity, generosity of spirit and a loving heart.I feel myself as an adult wanting to scream at the predators circling around Lissie – like you yell at the screen when you are watching a scary movie and the kid decides to go into the room alone to investigate “NO!!! DON’T OPEN THE DOOR”!
I feel the love and joy at the birth of her precious children, applaud her determination to be the BEST MOM ON THE PLANET, no matter what hoops she needs to jump through
And then cheering and beaming proudly when she finds love, happiness, and peace.
This book is emotionally draining to read – in a good way! – and I come away from it, grateful for my friends and family, the love I knew with Gene – and still know, though in a different way, renewed faith and knowledge that I am in God’s care and that everything happens for a reason.
This is all a very long-winded way of saying, “Never stop writing”!
Mary Anne Pester
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
For as long as I’m given stories to write; my last breath will probably be at my keyboard.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Oh, my yes. I did my best to dissociate with the protagonist through the darkest parts of the story, but as I am the character, I remembered all the traumatic details, had nightmares throughout most of its creation, and had to process through each event. Thirteen years later it is complete. I spared readers the shock of some scenes, yet provided enough information to fill in the blanks.
I knew I had to walk the talk for the broken souls who would read my story, so, it was for them, I forged on over the coals.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Reese Witherspoon, we have a lot in common, I think she’d totally get me, naturally funny, but sentimental too.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
It was riskyquittingworkfull time to breathe life back into a small business in order to support myself as I wrote. It was a challenge to learn to live with just the basics until I reached my goal. That was thirteen years ago and I’m still not there, yet; so, in the meanwhile, I continue honing the writing craft and learning all I can as I work toward my goal.
Self-discipline is also very important. I use The Pomodoro Method, a candle, music without words, turn off devices, no internet (that’s a reward for later), meditation and prayer to stay focused and on track.
Most of all, I’d saykeep at it, try new genres, and continue firing them out because one of them will take one day.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
You can let the life and the family you were born into dictate the definition of your very being, regardless of what you do or do not have, or, with grit, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance, you can rise above your circumstances, charter your own course and change your life, all the while empowering others to do the same. -Elise Crawford
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I feel guilty if I’m reading anyone else’s work but my own, especially if I have an unfinished project. So, for the past 13 years, when I am reading, it’s usually something about writing. Right now, I’m reading about how to write query letters and proposals for memoirs. My choice magazine is Writer’s Digest, I have a perpetual subscription and would be lost without it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
As a child—Dick and Jane series. My second-grade teacher secretly taught me the love of reading after school because my mother’s boyfriend didn’t allow books in the house.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh? Jeff Dunham hands down
Cry? Losing a loved one, furry or human
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Laura Ingalls Wilder, I love her stories, and her grit, but most of all I like that she published her first book at 65, that’s all the inspiration I need!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I taught myself to crochet in 2016 and have made animals, hats, a cloak, and blankets for friends and family. It inspires my muse.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’ve always enjoyed Little House on The Prairie reruns and Pixar children movies with assumed adult slapstick like Ratatouille, for which I’ve watched way too many times to count and it still makes me laugh.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favourite foods are Red Robin onion rings and Wedgie Burgers.
My favourite colours are deep royals and lavender.
My favourite music is Country, old and new.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d watch 70s reruns all day, with an ample supply of sugar cereal.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my arm wrapped around my husband, snuggled up in the spoon position“We’ll sail away on the wings of love into the night. . . and fall asleep together with the rocking of the water . . .” Sail Away by The Oak Ridge Boys
Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone?
First line: “She was a kind and loving, free-spirit who shared everything she had, unconditionally.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I tried having an author website, but despite all the firewall bells and whistles, it was always hacked and on the fritz. So, rather than continuing to feed the monster, I created a FB Fan page where I post updates. Recently, I found a boxfull of my first book,A Promise Kept. So, when Wildflower is published, I’m giving away free copies of it (exact amountTBD) tothe first few readers,so stay tuned on my FB fan page and my Goodreads page.
FB FAN PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/lissiewrites/
FB AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/elise.crawford1
LINKEDIN PAGE: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elise-crawford-a6047217/
AUTHORS DEN PAGE: http://www.authorsden.com/elisercrawford