Sunday, February 8, 2009

Interview With Liz Adair

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Liz Adair, the author of Counting The Cost.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Liz. Tell us a little about yourself.

Liz: Realizing that I’m a novelist and that it’s hard to write ‘a little bit’ about anything, I’ll give it a try.

I’m a native New Mexican, wife of 45 years, mother of 7 (4 ‘own’ and 3 adopted), grandmother of 17 and a senior citizen who is still surprised by my gray-haired image in the mirror. I live in the Pacific Northwest, love the rain, and celebrate the winter solstice with gusto each year. I have an exciting day job in construction management and think I’ll work several more years. I love to cook but hate to clean the kitchen.

Me: Sounds like a pretty lively life. When did you first start writing and what made you start?

Liz: I’ve been writing all my life. I remember my first ‘published’ work was a long narrative poem I wrote in fifth grade during a unit on the Middle Ages. It began, “I am a serf/ I live on a fief.” I dabbled in writing for the next thirty-seven years, but when my mother died, part of my grieving process was the production of a seven-pound manuscript. The dabbling was over.

Me: When was your first book published?

Liz: The first two books In the Spider Latham Mystery Series, The Lodger and After Goliath both came out in 2002.

Me: I really enjoyed reading your new book Counting the Cost. It was a pretty emotional novel and I really felt for the characters. By the end, I was pretty teary. Tell us a little about it. How did you come up with the story?

Liz: To understand how I happened to write the story, you need to know a bit about my family history. My mother was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was seven, but she had been introduced to the Church by her brother Curtis eight years before. I never knew Curtis, as he died before I was born, but he was always a hero in our house because he was the one who had first listened to the missionaries. A skilled cowhand, he was funny and smart and charismatic. Everybody loved Curtis.

Fast forward almost fifty years. My mother had Hodgkins’ Lymphoma, and she lived with us for the two years she battled the disease. Just days before she died, she confided to me a family secret, a scandal involving Curtis and the woman he ultimately married, and I realized that the reason I never heard my extended family talk about him wasn’t hurt because of his early death, but because of the shame he brought upon the family. This was, after all, provincial New Mexico in the 1930’s.

In the months after my mother’s death, the story of a cowboy who meets and marries an unconventional lady from back east just welled up inside me and emerged as the seven-pound manuscript I spoke of. It's fiction, but very solidly rooted in family history. It has taken the intervening years to hone my craft and become a good enough writer that I could do justice to the story while still paring it down to a manageable story.

Me: Well, I think you did a great job. What other books have you written?

Liz: Besides the Spider Latham Mystery Series of The Lodger, After Goliath and Snakewater Affair, The Mist of Quarry Harbor was also published by Deseret Book .

I also edited and published my mother’s letters from Afghanistan. She lived there from 1965 to 1970 in what some call The Golden Age of Afghanistan. Mother ran a small hotel/restaurant for the Agency for International Development (AID) and had fifteen Afghan men working for her. She got very involved in their lives, and her letters home were full of funny or poignant news about ‘her boys.’ The name of the book is Lucy Shook’s Letters from Afghanistan, , and 100% of the proceeds from book sales go to SWAN, a 501 C 3 organization that does microlending to poor women in Bolivia. If you’ll look on the back of Counting the Cost, you’ll see that my publisher is donating part of the proceeds from each book to SWAN, too.

And…I don’t know if it qualifies as a book, but I wrote a pamphlet called Using Family History in Fiction to go along with a workshop I teach on that same subject.

Me: Are you working on any projects right now?

Liz: I blog weekly on Service for yourLDSneighborhood, and I try to post at least one other time on my blog Liz Sez . I also have a family history blog called Familywriters because of my belief in the importance of getting family history written, whether as a history or as a story.

I’ve got a new book burbling inside me that I hope to begin writing this spring, after Counting the Cost is launched.

Me: Wow, you are staying pretty busy. And I'll definitely be looking forward to your next book. Thanks so much for hanging out with us today.

Thank you Jewel, for hosting me on your blog.

To learn more about Liz or purchase a copy of Counting The Cost, visit her blogs listed above or log onto

Experience The Journey!


Cecily said...

I enjoyed reading your interview with Liz Adair and some of your others posts here on your site. I've read Counting the Cost several times and am more of a fan each time! Thanks, especially, for your plug for I do hope people will visit us there to read more about Liz...and I'd like to post something there about you to direct them back here as well! Thanks, Jewel.

Shirley Bahlmann said...

Great interview! It's nice to get to know the people behind the book covers.