Elizabeth Crowens interview for Partners in Crime Book Tours
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
Who designed my book? You’re looking at her. Before I became a full-time writer, for many years I worked as a freelance photographer and graphic designer. One of my specialties was art directing and shooting movie posters which are very similar. Unless indicated, I took ninety-eight percent of the photos in the book, including those on the cover. I get a lot of compliments on the the covers of my three alternate history novels which I also designed.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst is my eighth book but my first photo-illustrated anthology, which makes it unfair to compare it to my previous seven books which are all novels in various series. Hopefully this book will be well received. Since I had a forty-year career as a photographer, I have ideas for additional books of this nature based on different areas of the world where I’ve traveled. As far as my novels are concerned, my latest, Babs and Basil, a 1940s Hollywood mystery, is my favorite. I just need to find another agent and get a good publishing deal.
How did you come up with the title? Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
This is more of a combined question. I’ve had a popular daily post on Facebook called Caption Contest: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst where I’d post a vintage photo and those who were connected with me would make commentaries which were often hilarious. Then, I’d been toying around with the idea for a while of doing a coffee table photography book using my images. I found out about an artist grant and pitched a combination of these ideas, and received grant funding to publish it.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Funny you should ask. Normally, I make either trips to Europe every twelve to eighteen months for the alternate history series, or trips to Los Angeles for my Hollywood mystery novels. In this case, this was the perfect project to work on during the pandemic, because I didn’t have to leave the greater New York City area. Either I had all the material I needed, or I made a few trips around Manhattan or Brooklyn for the rest.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Anyone who lives in New York, grew up in New York, or loves New York. Also anyone who loves good Life magazine-style photojournalism, which is my style of photography, or anyone who is a fan of any of the authors who participated in this exciting and eclectic project. I picked a diverse group of contributions from award-winning mystery writers to horror to science fiction to journalists. Several of my writers work in the entertainment industry.
What genre are your books?
With the exception of my photo-illustrated anthology which includes many genres plus photography, New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, I usually write Hollywood mysteries or alternate history, which is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy. In my case, I focus on the late 19th century through the early twentieth centuries using real people and real historical events in unreal situations involving paranormal research and time travel. My first novel in that series, Silent Meridian, can be considered as gaslight fantasy.
Where can we buy or see them? (* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included)
Signed copies of New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst will be available at The Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan where we’ll have both a live in-store event and a simultaneous Facebook Live event on October 25, 2021. Since this is a hardcover photography book with stories, it will not be available as an eBook. If it becomes popular and does well, there’s a possibility a softcover book will be produced next year. Obviously, it will be available on Amazon, but I believe in promoting indie bookstores. You can always have them order it using its ISBN number: 978-1-950384-13-6.
Do you see writing as a career?
It’s already a career for me. I just need to turn it into a viable career and hopefully earn more than I did as my previous careers as a photographer and designer.
New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst
Presented by: Elizabeth Crowens
October 25 – November 19, 2021 Virtual Book Tour
An Anthology and Celebration of the Big Apple
I’m an unabashed, unapologetic lover of New York City, my hometown, and New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst is right up my dark, deserted alley. New York’s at its best when you sneak up on it, glance at its sideways, or let it glance sideways at you. The pros and photos in this collection all show New York’s best, even when they purport to be showing its worst; in NYC, that’s how we roll. A fine addition to your New York bookshelf, a collection to savor.
~ SJ Rozan, best-selling author of The Art of Violence
Genre: Coffee Table book of Photography with Short Stories
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions, LLC
Publication Date: Oct 25, 2021
Number of Pages: 150
ISBN: 1950384136, 9781950384136
Purchase Links: Amazon | BookBaby | The Mysterious Bookshop | Goodeareads
Read the Intro:
It is daunting to be asked to say something about New York City that hasn’t already been said with more eloquence than I could muster. As with many of the writing gigs I’ve accepted without carefully considering the consequences, I suppose I would have been better off letting someone else tilt at this windmill. With all due respect to Don Quixote, here goes.
My initial inclination was to do something about how New York City, because of its geography, is fated to be a place of stark contradictions: of churning and yearning, of inclusion and exclusion, of acceptance and denial. Unlike other cities, New York cannot expand outwards, only upwards. While that sounds great and may make for glorious postcards of a majestic, everchanging skyline to send to the folks back home, it leaves out New York City’s most valuable commodity—its people.
I could have written about the unknown or unseen New York, the scores of little islands—some populated, some not—in Jamaica Bay, in the harbor, in the East River, in the Hudson. Places like Ruffle Bar. Ruffle Bar? Google it. Places once home to psychiatric and typhoid quarantine hospitals. Buildings abandoned or demolished. Islands whose only residents are the dead buried there and forgotten. Interesting, certainly, but again it would have left out the thing that makes New York City what it is.
As a crime fiction author who sets much of his work in New York—largely in Brooklyn and Manhattan—I have done countless panels and interviews about the city. My friend and award-winning colleague, Peter Spiegelman, says that setting is the soil in which you grow your characters. He is so right. Ask any author worth his, her, or their salt, and they will tell you that a book that can be set anywhere isn’t much of a book at all. A book must be of its place. So too must a person.
New York City isn’t one place. It is a thousand places, ten thousand places. And because it is all those places, its people are different neighborhood to neighborhood, sometimes street to street. Certainly, house to house, apartment to apartment. Do we shape the place or does the place shape us? Instead of doing an overview, a sort of general discussion of this question, I think it better to talk about one place—Coney Island—and how it shaped one person—me.
I grew up in the shadow of Coney Island Hospital, about a mile or so away from the amusement park. I was right on the border of Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Coney Island. I could explain how each of these neighborhoods differ, how, for instance, Sheepshead Bay is, for all intents and purposes, a fishing village. But no, not here, not now. At one point in my life or other, I have claimed to be from all these places. Yet it is Coney Island that resonates.
When I was four, my dad—a bitter, blustery, and angry man—was diagnosed with an aggressive bone sarcoma which he battled to a standstill for thirty plus more years. After his initial round of surgery and treatment, he was instructed to not do any activities that might jar or adversely affect his leg. Yet on summer Sundays, he would tell my mom that he was taking me for a car ride. We took car rides, alright, straight into Coney Island.
He would put me on the kiddy rides, take me to Nathan’s Famous, buy me pistachio soft serve. Then, in one of the few acts of true defiance I ever saw from him, he would get on the carousel and grab for the brass rings. On one of these Sundays, he pointed to the Parachute Jump. The “Jump” rose into the air two hundred and sixty feet. All orange steel, it looked like a cross between the Eiffel Tower and the skeleton of a giant umbrella.
“When that ride opened up,” he said, “my best pal Charlie and me got on it. The parachute dropped a few feet and then … nothing. We were stuck up there for forty-five minutes just hanging in the air. It was great.”
Of course, by then, the Parachute Jump, once part of Steeplechase Park, had been closed for years, its parachutes and rigging long gone. That day, those days, have stayed with me ever since. And when, as a teenager, I would go back to Coney Island with my friends, get high and ride the Cyclone, I would always look up at the Parachute Jump. It came to symbolize my dad to me. Mighty, impressive, but abandoned, and powerless. I loved my dad because I could see past his bluster. He let me see past it. All because of those few Sundays in Coney Island.
As if by osmosis, Coney Island began imposing itself in my work. My series character, Moe Prager, worked in the Six-O precinct in Coney Island. Scene after scene in the nine Moe books take place there. Even twenty-plus books later, in my new series, I cannot escape the gravity of Coney Island. It calls to me in a way I cannot explain other than to say it is romance in the way the Romantic poets understood it.
In my Edgar Award–nominated short story “The Terminal,” I wrote this:
“…He liked how Coney Island displayed its decay as a badge of honor. It didn’t try to hide the scars where pieces of its once-glorious self had been cut off. Stillwell Avenue west was like a showroom of abandonment, the empty buildings wearing their disuse like bankrupted nobility in frayed and fancy suits. He had come to the edge of the sea with the other last dinosaurs: the looming and impotent Parachute Jump, the Wonder Wheel, Nathan’s, the Cyclone.”
I could never have written those words in that way had I grown up in Washington Heights or Rego Park. New York City poets and writers are shaped by their families, yes, but shaped as much by where as by who. That is the magic of New York. This book will shine a light on the rest of that magic. By the way, my children and I have slightly different tattoos of the Parachute Jump: My son and I on our forearms; my daughter on her triceps. In those tats my dad and the Coney Island that was will live on.
Introduction from New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst by Reed Farrel Coleman. Copyright 2021 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.
About New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst:
Writer and photographer, Elizabeth Crowens is one of 500 New York City-based artists to receive funding through the City Artist Corps Grants program, presented by The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), with support from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) as well as Queens Theatre.
She was recognized for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, her photo-illustrated anthology, which brought her published book along with ten other authors to Mysterious Bookshop in Lower Manhattan at 58 Warren Street on Monday, October 25, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. for an in-store event and author signing along with a simultaneous Facebook Live presentation and recording for Jim Freund’s WBAI program Hour of the Wolf.
Author contributors include:
- Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of over 31 award-winning mystery and thriller novels, including the Jesse Stone series for the estate of Robert B. Parker. Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan.
- Charles Salzberg, former magazine journalist, crime novelist of the Shamus Award-nominated Henry Swann series, founding member of the New York Writers Workshop.
- Tom Straw, Emmy and WGA-nominated writer-producer, credits include Nurse Jackie, Night Court, Grace Under Fire, Whoopie, and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Crime novelist under the pen name of Richard Castle.
- Randee Dawn, Entertainment journalist for Today.com, Variety, and the Los Angeles Times. Co-editor of Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles and The Law & Order: SUV Companion, and speculative fiction writer of the upcoming Tune in Tomorrow.
- Barbara Krasnoff, Reviews Editor at The Verge, over 45 published short stories, Nebula Award finalist, author of the “mosaic” novel The History of Soul 2065.
- Steven Van Patten, TV stage manager by day, horror writer by night. Co-host of the Beef, Wine and Shenanigans podcast, winner of several African American Literary Awards.
- Triss Stein writes mysteries that all take place in Brooklyn.
- Marco Conelli, former NYPD detective, consultant to Mary Higgins Clark, and Silver Falchion award-winner for young adult mysteries and the police procedural Cry For Help, taking place in The Bronx.
- R.J. Koreto, historical mystery writer focusing on New York during the Gilded Age.
- Richie Narvaez, award-winning mystery author of Hipster Death Rattle, Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, and Noiryorican.
- Elizabeth Crowens, over 25 years in the entertainment industry, member of the International Cinematographers Guild as a Still Photographer (Imdb.com credited: Sheri Lane), award-winning writer of novels in the Hollywood mystery and alternate history genres. Recipient of the Leo B. Burstein Scholarship by the NY Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Editor and photographer for New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst based on her Facebook Caption Contests. elizabethcrowens.com, @Ecrowens on Twitter, and Elizabeth Crowens on Facebook!
Visit the stops on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, and guest posts from our hosts and authors!
10/25 Guest post @ Cozy Up With Kathy
10/25 Interview @ Novels Alive
10/26 Guest post @ Nesies Place
10/26 Interview @ Author Elena Taylors Blog
10/27 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads
10/28 Podcast @ Blog Talk Radio
10/28 Review @ Just Reviews
10/29 Interview @ I Read What You Write
11/01 Showcase @ nanasbookreviews
11/02 Review @ Blogging With A
11/03 Showcase @ Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
11/05 Showcase @ Quiet Fury Books
11/06 Review @ One More Book To Read
11/08 Review @ Celticladys Reviews
11/08 Review @ jayme_reads
11/09 Review @ Cozy Up With Kathy
11/10 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books
11/11 Review @ flightnurse70_book_reviews
11/12 Review @ The World As I See It
11/13 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
11/15 Review @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea
11/16 Review @ I Read What You Write
11/16 Review @ Novels Alive
11/17 Showcase @ CMash Reads
Great interview! This book is sitting on my coffee table right now waiting for me! Can’t wait to start.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I am excited to read this as well