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Elizabeth Crook was born in 1959. She lived in Nacogdoches and then San Marcos, Texas with her parents and brother and sister until 1966 when the family moved to Washington D.C., where her father was director of VISTA for Lyndon Johnson. Two years later her father was appointed Ambassador to Australia and the family moved to Canberra. When they returned to Texas Elizabeth attended public schools in San Marcos, graduating from San Marcos High School in 1977. She attended Baylor University for two years and graduated from Rice University in 1982. She has written three novels: The Raven’s Bride and Promised Lands were published by Doubleday and then reissued by SMU Press as part of the Southwest Life and Letters series. The Night Journal was published by Viking/Penguin in 2006 and reissued in paperback by Penguin.
Elizabeth has written for periodicals such as Texas Monthly and the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and has served on the council of the Texas Institute of Letters. She is a member of Western Writers of America and The Texas Philosophical Society, and was selected the honored writer for 2006 Texas Writers’ Month, joining previous honorees O. Henry, J. Frank Dobie, John Graves, Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy, Katherine Anne Porter, Elmer Kelton, Liz Carpenter, Sarah Bird, James Michener, and Horton Foote. Her first novel, The Raven’s Bride, was the 2006 Texas Reads: One Book One Texas selection. The Night Journal was awarded the 2007 Spur award for Best Long Novel of the West and the 2007 Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction.
Q. Are you a native Texan or did you get here as soon as you could?
A. I was born in Houston at Hermann Hospital, which was the closest big hospital to Nacogdoches where my parents lived. April 1st was the due date, but my grandfather told my mother he would pay all the medical bills if she would wait a few days and have me on his birthday. It turned out he wasn’t joking. She had me induced on his birthday and he paid for private nurses around the clock.
Q. How did you end up writing historical fiction?
A. My mom read to the three of us kids every night when we were growing up—a different book to each of us, so there were always three stories going. A lot of the stories were historical fiction, and I especially loved those set in the west—Old Yeller and Savage Sam, Blue Willow and Caddie Woodlawn. And then there was also the influence of my older brother. He was addicted to westerns like Gunsmoke and the Rifleman, and since the law of the west was still pretty much in effect in our household—meaning whoever was bigger could get control of the t.v. dial—my sister and I ended up watching a lot of westerns. When I started writing stories, they somehow didn’t seem right if they didn’t have horses or mules.
Q. What book marketing activities made you a bestselling author?
A. I can’t say I know. Marketing is a puzzle. You’re the genius with that! Whenever I think I understand it, it changes.
Q. Tell us about your latest release. Is it set in Texas?
A. My latest book is The Night Journal, a novel set in Texas and New Mexico. It takes place in two time periods—the 1890’s, depicted in the journals of Hannah Bass, and the present day, in which Hannah’s great grand-daughter is confronted by a shocking discovery that casts doubt on everything recorded in the journals. A mystery comes to light when two dog graves on the sight of the old family home near Pecos Pueblo in New Mexico are excavated and expose a number of things one would never expect to find in dogs’ graves.
Q. Where can we pay you a virtual visit?
A. My website is http://elizabethcrookbooks.com. I’d love for you to look in.
And thanks so much, Stephanie, for this chance to connect with your readers.