Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, Midnight on the Mississippi, first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, is set in New Orleans. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. You can learn more about Mary by visiting her Website or her Facebook Page.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I run around like a headless chicken trying to catch up with “life.” In all seriousness, I lose myself for days while writing, stopping only long enough to throw a non-gourmet meal on the table, walk my dog, and sleep. Then suddenly I notice the garden has more weeds than flowers, there is no food in the house, and all our clothes sit in piles on the basement floor. I’m not an untidy person, so I work like a dervish until caught up. Then I curl up in my chaise with a book…a mystery, of course.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
Mysteries and romantic suspense is the genre I started out in. After two published books, I changed to Amish fiction and wrote twelve books before giving historical romance a whirl. I enjoyed writing those genres very much. But since mysteries are what I like to read, it was natural for me to come back to them.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I try not to read reviews of my books, but every now and then I’m curious. One reader said my book An Amish Family Reunion had so many characters that it was tough to keep them straight and she finally gave up. I had to laugh. After all, what did she expect? It was an Amish reunion and they have big families. The best compliment came from a reader who said my book changed her life. A character had solved a problem by taking a certain path, a problem that my reader was experiencing herself. There could be no better compliment than that.
If you could go back in time and do something differently in your writing career, what would it be?
I believe everything happens for a reason. Each “misstep” we take is actually setting the stage for future growth and improvement. So the only thing I would change is not worrying about the future so much. In the early years of my career, I used to check lists and compare myself to others, or fret that this article or interview wouldn’t measure up. God has the future capably in His hands. If I would have remembered that more often I could have saved myself many sleepless nights.
What Lies Beneath the Black Water of the Bayou?
Hunter Galen, a New Orleans securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, of embezzling their clients’ money, but he’s reluctant to jeopardize their friendship. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.
Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker’s murder as she establishes herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen-Nowak Investments, Hunter’s fiancée, Ashley Menard, rubs her the wrong way. Nicki doesn’t trust the ostentatious woman who seems to be hiding something, but is the PI’s growing attraction to Hunter—the police’s only suspect—her true reason for disliking Ashley?
As Hunter and Nicki encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and death threats both subtle and overt, danger swirls around them like the mysterious dark water of the bayou. Only their reliance on faith and fearless determination give them hope they will live to see another day.
Mary is giving away a copy of MIDNIGHT ON THE MISSISSIPPI! To enter, leave a comment, along with your contact information. U.S. and Canada only, please.