The best part of being a writer is getting to be friends with people you also fangirl over, and I am the BIGGEST fangirl of Erin A. Craig and her upcoming debut novel House of Salt and Sorrows! I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this book, and it’s the spooky Gothic fantasy of my dreams.
Erin A. Craig has always loved telling stories. After getting her B.F.A. from the University of Michigan, in Theatre Design and Production, she stage managed tragic operas with hunchbacks, séances, and murderous clowns, then decided she wanted to write books that were just as spooky. An avid reader, a decent quilter, rabid basketball fan, and collector of typewriters, Erin makes her home in Memphis, TN with her husband and daughter.
House of Salt and Sorrows comes out on Tuesday, August 6th, and trust me, y’all do not want to miss this one.
What time of day do you love best?
Definitely the morning! Both my husband and I are early risers. I’ll get us cups of coffee and he’ll head upstairs to start his day. It’s one of the few times the house is quiet and still. I can usually get a good chunk of writing done before our daughter wakes up, raring to go. She’s always so happy and snuggly when she runs in and then my husband makes us breakfast. It’s a great way to kick off each day!
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Before I had my daughter, I was the Director of Production and Stage Manager at Opera Memphis. There are so many amazing and truly unbelievable stories from various productions. The biggest show I did there was Aida—over a hundred singers onstage, huge soaring scenic pieces, and—of course—a triumphant parade complete with a menagerie of animals. It took months to plan for. I remember one day trying to figure out how to adhere to all of the various state and city laws so we could end the parade with the traditional elephant appearance. City laws required a sharp shooter be on site in case the elephant were to charge, but you can’t have loaded guns in a theatre so we would have to hire a person to hold the bullets fifty feet away—it took an entire afternoon just to work through all of the logistics and in the end, we ended up using camels instead. My favorite animal and way less drama!
Do you have a regular first reader?
There are three people who get to read my work when it’s still in its earliest, rawest form. My mother and sister always get pages emailed over to them—they’ve been reading my stories since I was little and plotting about magical animals and extremely thinly veiled ‘Phantom of the Opera’ fanfics. (Oh Tiny-Erin!)
When I decided I wanted to become a “Real Writer™” I started looking into the online writing community and found my best friend/author soul mate/all around amazing human being Hannah Whitten. Way back when, in the year 2017, I was killing time on Twitter while waiting to see if I’d been chosen for an editing contest when she tweeted out asking if anyone was looking for a critique partner who was into fairytale retellings. Ummm, yes please! She looked way too cool to hang out with the likes of me but I swallowed down my fear, decided to be brave, and messaged her. We passed our stories back and forth to see if we’d jive and I fell in love with both her and her writing. We live in Tennessee and have daughters about the same the age. It feels like destiny that we found each other. Hannah and I pass chapters of our works-in-progress back and forth like carrier pigeons. She can find the thread of gold in my messiest, most nonsensical drafts and suggest how to make it shine. Every one of our highest of highs and lowest of lows is shared. Writing is often portrayed as a solitary act, but it shouldn’t be. Find people who are there to cheer loudly and critique firmly but quietly. Find yourself a Hannah!
Were you an avid reader as a kid? What kinds of things did you read?
Oh my goodness yes! My childhood was spent immersed in stories. There were silly bedtime tales my dad made up, weekly trips to the library with my mama and sister to get towers of books, and of course, reading by flashlight under the covers late into the night. I had a wild variety of tastes—from the Boxcar Children and the Babysitters’ Club, the Goosebumps series and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and just about every book on marine biology Texas Tech’s library had. As I grew older, I’d sneakily check-out Dean Koontz and Stephen King. Richard Preston’s THE COBRA EVENT scared the living daylights out of me and I reread Catherine Marshall’s CHRISTY so many times my paperback is absolute tatters. I loved the Sierra series by Robin Jones Gunn and cried my heart out over Susan Kay’s PHANTOM. Whatever “thing” I was into at the moment was always well researched and even now, stacks of wildly eclectic books are all over our house!
Proudest writing moment?
There are so many—the day I pitched HOSAS on #PitDark which led to many offers of rep and finding my amazing agent Sarah Landis, the morning she emailed to say that an editor at Delacorte loved my story and wanted to offer a pre-empt, talking to my incredible editor, Wendy Loggia, for the first time and planning out how we were going to turn my manuscript into a real book, and dropping my contract into the mail and doing a celebratory dance with my daughter. All awesome moments. December 5, 2018 sticks out in my memory most though. It was the day HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS’ cover was released and I had my marketing meeting with the team at Delacorte. It was the first time I got to speak with many of the department heads and it struck me how many people it truly takes to make a book come together. There’s the writing and editing, of course, but there’s also cover designers, school and library, marketing, sales, publicity and PR—a whole army of people and they all were all in love with the story I wrote! I had so many happy, grateful tears falling down my face after we all signed off. It’s a moment I truly never want to forget!
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve Thaumas girls, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of their lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next. House of Salt and Sorrows is a spellbinding novel filled with magic and the rustle of gossamer skirts down long, dark hallways. Get ready to be swept away.