Let’s Chat With Lisa E Betz
Lisa E Betz worked as an engineer, substitute teacher, and play director before becoming an award-winning mystery writer. She draws inspiration from thirty-five years of leading Bible studies to create entertaining mysteries set in the world of the early church.
When not writing or reading, Lisa E Betz can be found volunteering at the library. She lives in southeastern Pennsylvania with her patient husband and a rambunctious cat named Scallywag. She has two married sons and a grand baby on the way.
Welcome, Lisa E Betz
I love being swept away to far-off times and places within the pages of a compelling book. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood, and historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. Historical novels bring history to life in a way textbooks cannot.
I’m particularly drawn to stories that feature misfits and underdogs. I understand the pain of not being cool and the frustration of fighting molds that don’t fit. Thus, I respect others (real or fictional) who are brave enough to succeed despite their underdog status.
Lisa E Betz, Blogger & Mystery Writer
In my blog, I encourage my readers to appreciate their true selves and risk revealing their real persona to the world. In my novels I include characters who don’t fit the conventional mold. I reveal the heroic and honorable qualities hiding inside these characters, whom others see as flawed or useless.
Since I’m not good at fitting molds, I decided to write a mystery rather than the more typical historical romance. And then I set the story in first-century Rome. Plotting a mystery suits the analytical side of my brain. Creating eccentric characters and witty dialogue suits the creative side. Putting them together, I create entertaining stories that amuse, encourage, and inspire.
Why set a mystery in ancient Rome?
My interest in ancient Roman culture stems from many years teaching Bible studies. I’ve tried to absorb as much as possible about the culture and history of the Roman Empire, so I can bring the ancient world to life and make the Bible more relevant to modern Christians.
I chose the mid-first century because I couldn’t write a light-hearted story with a snarky main character that was set during the Great Fire of Rome, or the persecutions that came after that. I’ve chosen to set the novel during the reign of Emperor Claudius. The story takes place a dozen years before Paul visits the city.
As an added benefit, writing about ancient Rome gave me an excuse to visit Italy and see the ruins firsthand. (Before Covid-19, fortunately.) Here I am at a restaurant counter in Ostia Antica, the port city downriver from Rome.
As for this particular story, it all started with a scene that popped into my head while I was weeding flower beds. I saw a young woman entering a narrow alley. Her action alarmed her maids but the woman felt no fear, because the only danger in the alley was a cat. Who was this woman? Why did she want to enter the alley? What might she find?
That scene led to the development of my main character, Livia. The book still opens with her following a cat into an alley. Both the cat and the discovery she makes in the alley play an important role in the rest of the book.
Is Lisa E Betz like her heroine?
Yes and no. I don’t think I’m assertive enough to be a good sleuth, but I do enjoy solving challenging puzzles. Like Livia, I want to be appreciated for the real me, rather than pretending to fit somebody else’s mold. Plus, we’re both fond of cats and have strong opinions about food.
I wanted a heroine who had both the smarts and the gumption to solve crimes even when the men around her were trying to make her stop. She also needed an outgoing personality so she could talk herself out of problems (when she chases after clues without considering the consequences) and into the houses of total strangers (when she needs to ask a few nosy questions).
Ultimately, my inspiration for her came from many women I have admired over the years. Women who live with boundless energy, a zest for life, and enough drive to make their goals come to pass no matter the odds. My grandmother is one of my role models for her.
She needed a sidekick that could keep up with her. So I gave her a streetwise maid who speaks out of turn and lacks the polish of a traditional lady’s maid. She’s the prefect servant for a woman who decides to investigate a murder without any idea how to go about it.
Introducing Death and a Crocodile, a finalist for the 2019 ACFW Genesis award.
Sensible women don’t investigate crimes, but Livia doesn’t have a choice.
When Livia’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, she sets out to find the killer before her innocent brother is convicted of murder. She knows nothing of solving crimes, but that won’t stop her.
Rival suitors offer to help, but Livia doesn’t trust either of them. Instead, she sets out to find the culprit herself, with help from a handful of faithful servants, her trusted Christian mentors, and a sneaky black cat.
Can she uncover the culprit before powerful men realize what she’s up to and force her to stop? Or will her snooping land her in deadly peril?
Death and a Crocodile by Lisa E Betz is a fast-paced historical mystery, featuring a feisty amateur sleuth, a cast of eccentric characters, and a glimpse of the early church.
Lisa E. Betz Website https://LisaEBetz.com
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Lord, please bless each word Lisa E. Betz writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake ~