Interview with Liz Adair: Author of the Spider Latham Series

TARP-CoverLiz Adair’s newest Spider Latham Mystery novel is: Trouble at Red Pueblo.  Liz flawlessly presents this contemporary western with beautiful prose, unforgettable characters and intriguing plot twists. Liz has graciously answered some questions about writing this tale.

Margaret: This story starts with the funeral for Spiders mother.  Laurie encourages Spider to get right to work on solving a new mystery. Have you found working or getting involved in a hobby has helped you deal with a loss?

Liz: Do you know, I didn’t plan that for Spider. At the end of Snakewater Affair his mother was deep into Alzheimer’s and had congestive heart failure. It was natural to start the next book in the series with her death. But when I finished this book, Trouble at the Red Pueblo, I could see that solving the mystery would have been therapeutic for both Spider and Laurie. As a matter of fact, I dealt with the loss of my mother by writing what turned out to be Counting the Cost. I never cried a tear, but I created a seven pound manuscript.

Margaret:  The love story in Counting the Cost is priceless. I’m so glad you worked through your grief and shared this intimate look at your family.  In Trouble at the Red Pueblo did your feelings about Jack change between Chapter Two and the end? Why?

Liz: My feelings did change, because at the beginning, I didn’t see the end. I didn’t know that Jack gave Amy a job and a home or that he did all the good works that he did. All I knew about him at first was that he was successful and irritating to Spider. And that he was a cowboy poet.

Margaret:  Who is your favorite character besides Spider and why?

Liz: Besides Spider, Karam is my favorite. I started out with a completely different idea of what he would be, but I’m delighted with how he turned out. I love him for his fearlessness. I remember studying Spanish—I minored in it in college and spent a summer in Mexico in a residency program to gain fluency. Conversing with native Mexicans was so uncomfortable; I was always afraid of making a mistake or of appearing foolish. But Karam is so bold and at the same time so teachable. I just love him.

Margaret: I found there were similar issues with European relatives who know King’s English, but get lost with American slang. You did a great job of adding humor with this element. Karam, a Palestinian Muslim, teaches American history.  What inspired you to create such an unlikely teacher?

Liz: My husband, Derrill, and I get these video programs called Great Courses. They’re college-level lectures, and we watch one every day during lunch. We were watching one on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Empire, and the person teaching it had a British accent. The idea came to me then that it’s very common to have Western professors teaching Eastern history. Why not the other way around?

Margaret:   This novel tackles the issue of racial profiling. Tell us why you added this element.

Liz: I put Karam’s incident in the book because of a conversation that I had with a Palestinian friend who, when he traveled around America, never flew because of his experiences in airports. However, he said that going by bus was stressful, too. He had been hassled by police in bus stations because they thought he looked Hispanic and made him prove he wasn’t an illegal alien.

Margaret:  Who do you consider to be another hero in this book?

Liz: I think Jack may be a hero. In wanting to take care of Amy, he pushes himself beyond his physical capacity and reaps the consequences. That’s kind of funny, because in the beginning I didn’t see him in a hero’s mold.

Margaret: Thanks for visiting with us today. I look forward to reading more Spider Latham mysteries in the future.