SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
We know this. But in case you didn’t I thought you might want reminded. Also, that there are only
Oh… Yes I do have it but it is under wraps. Here today we have the lovely Ellis Vidler, author, editor, and speaker, who grew up in North Alabama, and who is joining us all the way today from South Carolina. I hope the weather is better there than here. Ellis was kind enough to encourage me in a little kilt research recently– I am not getting in a deeper hot off with Nikki Dee Houston–and to publish the results over on her lovely blog.
SO, I think we can guess in terms of behaviour Ellis is a member of the badly behaved club. (Not looking at any members here Missies Lange, Houston, Struth and Mr Crow etc etc.) But that’s not the only reason it is a pleasure to invite her here. I just love it when a writer talks favourite books. (I just love behaving too) So lets find out Ellis’s……
Shey Ellis you read extensively as a child, everything from Tarzan to Nancy Drew. All these characters, all these books, who did you like to ‘live’ the most?
Ellis. Probably Tarzan.
(one for Anne Lange. Sorry did I say something about behaving?)
We had a large wooded area with a creek near our house. The boys (who were allowed knives) cut one end of the large grape vines free, and we’d swing across the stream on them—more often “into” the water. But it was great fun.
(another for Anne Lange)
Shey. Well, you lived to tell the tale–lol but my jokes get worse. Is that what drew you into writing? The idea you could create a fun world for others to share?
Ellis. I think it was reading. Our house had lots of books. Both my parents read to me, and as soon as I learned to read, I read everything I could. Daddy made up stories from pictures in art books, and sometimes it was my turn to make up a story. Unfortunately, I made up a few extras that Mother didn’t appreciate.
Shey. I shan’t ask…. I’m sure I’d shock mine the things I write. To quote Fury, it’s probably as well she’s not here to see it! Although what I now have is the reverse–lol daughters who are shocked. I love the covers of all your books but Tea in the Afternoon doesn’t just look atmospheric, it makes me think of Tara in Gone With The Wind.
You describe yourself as a child of the South, how important is setting to you in your actual writing?
Ellis. Setting adds so much to a story—I chose them carefully. In Time of Death, I needed a confined area, so I made up an island off the coast of Charleston, SC. Upstate SC (where I live) has deep lakes for hiding bodies (Haunting Refrain), nearby mountains, and neighborhoods I know.
For Cold Comfort, I wanted snow and a charming Christmas shop, so I set it in Williamsburg, VA.
Shey.. Christmas .. How kind of you to think of my readers.
Mr Shey and the rest of you think of……
Ellis. When possible, I visit the places I write about, but so many details are available on the Internet—a great resource when used carefully. Google Earth and the street views on maps are such a help. Also, asking on lists for help from people who live in an area can add authenticity.
Shey. Yip, the internet is a very helpful tool. Do you have a favorite book set in the South? And why? Come on Eillis….Give us the low down on yir fav book!
Ellis. To Kill a Mockingbird. The compassion and tragedy in the story, the quiet heroism of Atticus Finch, the beautiful portrayal of Boo Radley—it had a tremendous influence on me. There are others I love, but that one holds a special place.
Shey. I suspect it is a popular choice too which is why I’m going to behave and refrain from showing you robin pictures although I imagine how to kill a robin might look like this….
(did I really say I’d behave?)
You’re a suspense writer with a dash or romance….where do your ideas mainly come from?
Ellis. I see a picture or read a news item, see an interesting face in the grocery store—it all sparks my imagination. My WIP came from a photo of a deer eating apples in the snow on Flickr. I set it in apple country near my home, so it doesn’t quite fit—apples are gone well before any snow—but the idea took off.
Shey. That just makes me think of
gonna be good now.
Ellis. My grandmother, who was psychic gave me the idea for the McGuire women series. After Haunting Refrain was published, distant cousins told me their grandfather (her brother) had the same ability.
Shey. Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
Ellis. I don’t write consistently, though I’d like to. My best time is early in the morning before anyone else is awake and everyday living distracts me. I love the quiet, and my imagination is fresh and accessible then.
Shey. My God, that is when I am reaching for the strongest coffee on the planet! You are busy working on a soon to be released book. Can you give us the one line pitch?
Ellis. After witnessing her husband’s murder, her choice is to disappear or die. The title is Prime Target.
Shey. Now can you tell a bit more about your hero and heroine? Lol…No mercy.
Ellis. Madeleine is an ad agency executive and former concert pianist. She goes from carefree to caring and aware of how others live. Charlie Dance is a badly scarred Navy corpsman (medic), and they both have PTSD. I love her, but Charlie has my heart. It’s much easier to bring the hero to life when you fall in love with him.
‘ Today a few white puffs marked the blue sky, and a soft breeze carried the scent of flowers. Madeleine picked up a book and a bottle of water and headed to the orchard. She aimed for the Arkansas Blacks because, at the beginning of May, they were still blooming. The flowers were already fading in the next field. Clouds of fragrant, pink-tinted white blossoms lent a feeling of shelter. Petals drifted to the ground around her as she walked. She settled against a tree near the edge of the field to read and let the heat, the hum of insects, and the gentle air movement relax her. Honey bees buzzed overhead, and her eyelids grew heavy. She found it hard to concentrate on the book.
A noise, the crackle of footsteps, woke her. She blinked at the bright day, then tensed. Someone walked nearby. Her heart skipped.
Her first instinct was to jump up and run, but she glanced at the ground and watched a snake slide by—from the pictures she’d seen, a rattler.
“Be still and it’ll keep on going.”
Except for the frantic thumping of her heart, the low, calm words kept her frozen in place. But as soon as the snake disappeared, she sprang to her feet and whirled to find the barrel of a long gun pointed her way. She gasped, then looked up at the man. Her mouth dropped open, but she couldn’t make a sound.
Then the scarred face registered. Surprised, she couldn’t hide her reaction. “You’re Charlie Dance.”
“Gee, I wonder what gave me away.”
The raw sarcasm in his tone made her wince. She faced him squarely. “Yes, I knew about your injuries, but finding your gun pointed at me was a shock.”
“It was pointed at the rattler, not you.” Now he sounded disgusted. He backed up a step, edging away from her. “Make noise when you walk. They’ll get out of the way.”
“Why didn’t you just shoot it?”
“And scare you to death? Besides, I don’t kill.” He turned away and strode toward the nearby woods. His final words carried back to her. “Unless I have to.”
Shey . Oooh. love it. I know this is a hard one but do you have a favorite amongst your books?
Ellis. Yes, Prime Target.
Ellis. I have one started featuring Gwen, a minor character from Haunting Refrain, and Will Porter, the owner of Maleantes & More, the security outfit in Cold Comfort. There’s also another McGuire women story shaping up in my head. I have more ideas than I’ll live long enough to write, but it’s fun to find new stories.
Shey. Lastly, phew bet you’re glad… What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Ellis. Study your craft and never give up. Strive to improve and never give up. Learn about the business side and never give up. (Lol. Do you see a theme in this?)
Shey…well it ain’t give up now! Ellis, thanks so much for coming by. For more Eillis and her fabulous books..
TEA IN THE AFTERNOON
Three Southern short stories
Not suspense. Southern fiction in three short stories: “Miss Bliss Strikes a Blow,” in which a lady makes her mark; Restitution, in which a father and daughter make up for past mistakes; and “The New Car,” how Bertie Gilchrist aims to get the car of his dreams. “Restitution” won the South Carolina Writers Conference Literary Award for Short Fiction.
Amazon Kindle Read an excerpt