Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district—until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She’s determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.
What made you decide to become a writer?
LIZ: I didn’t decide. It just happened. It may be something you just are, like having blue eyes or seeing color in shadows or being able to roll a double R (I can’t).
Who inspires you?
LIZ: My critique group inspires me. They are four incredible women, and I recharge my battery each Thursday evening as we go over the pages each has sent in for a critique. They not only inspire me, they teach me.
What would you like your readers to get out of your writing?
LIZ: A cheap vacation. Seriously, I remember when I was a young mother on a tight budget. I didn’t hate my life. I loved being a mom, but every now and then it was so delicious to read a book that took me to an exotic place where people had conversations on a higher level than Goodnight Moon. That’s what I want to do. My settings might not be exotic, but they’re different, and I hope my dialogue is witty and sharp.
Where did this idea come from?
LIZ: Cold River came out of my experience teaching at Concrete, Washington thirty years ago or so. Concrete is a tiny town in timber country, and the local populace are descendants of people who moved west from North Carolina during the early twentieth century to work in the wood products industry. When I arrived, there hadn’t been much happen there to dilute the cultural or speech patterns the people had brought with them. It’s changed since then, as TV has come to the area, but when I was teaching there, the people called themselves Tarheels and were proud of their North Carolinian heritage.
Who was your favorite character to develop?
LIZ: It’s much more a process of getting to know the characters than developing them. Of course I liked the main character, Mandy Steenburg, who comes to Limestone as a mid-year replacement as superintendent of schools. She has her doctorate, has been on the fast track in Albuquerque’s school administration, and she thinks she knows how to run a school district.
I also liked Vince Lafitte. He grew up in Limestone, but he’s always been an outsider. Illegitimate and poor as a child, he made lots of money blowing up buildings, and he’s invested that money in Limestone, so he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s handsome in an angular way, a careful dresser, and he’s very interested in Mandy.
I also liked…well, I think I liked them all. Edith Berman who keeps the first aid kit stocked with herbs she’s collected; Nettie Maypole who is angry that the school cook stole her mama’s recipe for Yum Yum Potatoes and now calls them Tarheel Spuds; Mo Smith, the district accountant who looks so nondescript with his thinning hair, rounding shoulders and anemic mustache but who becomes Mandy’s staunch ally. And then there’s Granny Timberlain. Well, you’ll have to read the book.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
LIZ: Yes. First, write, write, write. Next, join a writers group, but pick one that is supportive. Third, get comfortable putting your work out for a critical review. You will never grow as a writer if you don’t ask for feedback.
Where can we purchase Cold River?
LIZ: You can find it at Deseret Book or Amazon. If your independent book store doesn’t carry it, ask for it.
What can we expect next from you?
LIZ: I’m working on another romantic suspense with a working title Rats in the Attic. I definitely know I’ll change that, but for now I like it. It’s set in southern Nevada, in Spider Latham country. That will mean something to people who have read my first three books, all part of the Spider Latham Mystery series.
Anything else you’d like to add?
LIZ: Just that my blog can be found at www.sezlizadair.blogspot.com Followers and people who comment are always welcome.
THANK YOU LIZ!