Interview with Bette Lee Crosby

1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My mother, born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, was not a writer, but, she was a wonderful storyteller. Not realizing that at heart I was my mother’s daughter, I studied art intent upon becoming a graphic designer. My first job was that of a packaging designer, but it was a short-lived career. Faced with an immediate deadline and a blank space where the copy should have been, I began to write. I never looked back, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that my love for words far outweighed any design skills I acquired along the way.      

2. What is your favorite book you have written and why?

Although it’s virtually impossible to narrow it down to a single book, I’m fondest of the books written in a Southern voice. Spare Change and The Twelfth Child, a book scheduled to be released this spring, are certainly high on my list. I’m obsessive about the craft of writing and I try to make every book better than the last one—so I hope that what will one day be my favorite has yet to be written. I think writers tend to favor the books that reflect the most poignant aspects of their life. For me, it’s my Southern heritage and I hear bits and pieces of my mother’s voice in all of my Southern stories.

3. Please tell us a little bit about your new book Spare Change.
Yikes, this is tough to do without letting some spoilers slip through…but what I can do is give you the opening lines of a review from the Seattle Post Intelligence—“Spare Change is a quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life, madcap adventures of a young boy and a late change of heart that made all the difference in the life of an unusually independent woman. More than anything, it is a heartwarming book, which is simultaneously intriguing and just plain fun.”

4. In Spare Change who was you favorite character and least favorite to write about?

The story starts with Olivia and she was the character my mind first created; I love her independence and off-the-wall way of rationalizing what she wants to believe, however, Ethan Allen stole my heart. I fell in love with his resilience and determination, and I grew to love him more with every page I wrote. I loved discovering that beneath his tough exterior he was a frightened child trying very hard to be brave. Ethan Allen is one character that I just can’t let go of, whereas other characters from other books have moved aside to make room for newcomers.

5. What is your next book project?

Two novels are already in the publishing pipeline, The Twelfth Child will be released this Spring and What Matters Most in the Winter of 2012/2013.  But for several months I have been struggling to find the next story I want to write, then I suddenly realized Ethan Allen was the reason I couldn’t move on. Now I’m certain of what I want to write; it is a sequel to Spare Change. A grown-up Ethan Allen is the protagonist and the story revolves around him. I can’t say more without blurting out a spoiler that might ruin Spare Change for those who haven’t yet read it. 

6. What is your favorite quote?
It probably depends upon when and where you ask me. I would love to be deep and profound like so many brilliant writers, but I’ve learned over the years that I am still my mother’s daughter – sometimes irreverent, always a story-lover, but seldom brilliant. So here is the quote that most closely reflects my own thinking…The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” Elizabeth Taylor

7. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Be yourself. Discover what’s in your heart and create characters you love or love to hate. Never allow yourself to follow in the tracks of another author simply because he or she sold a million copies of their book. If you stumble onto that pathway, your readers will know; your characters will sound shallow and superficial. But if you’re true to yourself and work to develop your own voice it will ring loud and true with believability. It isn’t something that happens overnight. I wrote four novels before the fifth was published, but the truth is that the first four didn’t deserve to be published, they were all part of my learning curve. So, stay with it and learn from the writers who inspire you, from the books you love, and from the books you hate. You learn something from every book you read, and sometimes that something is what not to do.  Most of all enjoy every minute you spend writing—because if you’re not writing for fun, you shouldn’t be writing.


Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. “Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win several more awards, including a second NLAPW award, three Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and most recently three 2011 Reader’s View Awards, in categories of General Fiction, Southeast Fiction and Best Contemporary Drama.

Her published works to date are: Girl Child (2007), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2009), Spare Change (2011), and Life in the Land of IS…the story of Lani Deauville, the world’s longest living quadriplegic (2012).  The Twelfth Child is scheduled for release in the spring of 2012.
Thank you Bette for this delightful interview!

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