Dr. Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art. She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist.
PJ: How long have you been writing?
BJ: I started translating Spanish poetry and writing scholarly books in 1973 when I came to the University of Georgia as an instructor. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t working on a book. My first non-scholarly book was Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Gray Parrot (2010). I also had loads of fun for two years writing a column in our local newspaper titled “Cosmo Talks” about animal cognition and communication.
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
BJ: I never made money as a scholarly writer, but I still felt that I was a successful scholar. However, not until I published Conversations with Cosmo did I realize I was “a writer.”
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
BJ: I am retired from the University of Georgia. Although I am on several boards of non-profit organizations, I spend every spare minute writing my mysteries now. Writing is what I love to do best.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
BJ: As yet, I don’t have a writing income. I am 68 years old. I have published 17 books, but Downstream is my first novel.
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
BJ: I just want to devote whatever time I have left in my life to writing.
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?
BJ: I never had trouble finding a publisher.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
BJ: I would rather write than promote what is already in print.
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
BJ: I was executive producer, producer, and co-writer of a documentary titled Alvar: His Vision and His Art. It won first place in “Short Documentaries” at the Indie Gathering Film Festival in 2006. That was very exciting.
PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
BJ: My mystery is set in North Georgia, and it’s about the pharmaceutical pollution of our environment. Its setting and its theme set it apart from other mysteries.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
BJ: Figure out what you have to share with the world and write about it. .
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
BJ: Radio interviews.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
BJ: The whole idea of promoting myself. I would rather talk about ideas, the ideas in my book.
PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
Lorca’s Poet in New York: The Fall into Consciousness. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1977
Literary Relativity. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1982
Reconnection: Dualism to Holism in Literary Study. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988 (cloth and paper) Winner of Frederic W. Ness Award
Laying the Ladder Down: The Emergence of Cultural Holism. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992. (cloth and paper) Winner of Georgia Author of the Year for Non-fiction
American Patriotism in a Global Society. SUNY Series in Global Politics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 (cloth and paper)
Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist and Environmentalist. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001. (paper edition, 2002)
Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Santa Fe: Sherman Asher Publishing, 2010. Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Silver Award (Category Pets) (2011)
Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Red Planet Audiobooks, 2010
Parola di Papagallo (Italian translation of Conversations with Cosmo). Mediterranee, 2013
We All Live Downstream. Black Opal Books, 2014
At the celebration of his hundredth birthday, local billionaire Francis Hearty Withers announces to the people gathered on the front lawn of Witherston Baptist Church that he has finalized his will. In it he bequeaths $1 billion to his north Georgia hometown of Witherston and another $1 billion to be divided up equally among the town’s 4,000 residents—in recognition of their support of a Senextra pharmaceutical factory. Senextra is a drug that enables individuals to lead healthy lives well into their second century, but it has some unanticipated consequences. Downstream, published by Black Opal Books, is Betty Jean Craige’s first novel. Betty Jean Craige is retired from the University of Georgia, where she was a professor of Comparative Literature.
PJ: Where can we buy it?
BJ Barnes & Noble, your local bookstore and online booksellers.
PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?
BJ: I am an environmentalist who loves writing cozy mysteries.