Interviewer: E.E. Kennedy
|Mary Ellis in Savannah, the location of her newest release.|
ME: I started out by writing mysteries in the ABA world, so it’s not really a new genre. I’m so glad to be back to writing mysteries and romantic suspense, since they’re my favorite genre to read.
SS: In the book I just read, Magnolia Moonlight, you display knowledge of the Mississippi Gulf coast and its landmarks, police procedure, private detectives and their legal limitations, casino gambling, forensic accounting and a host of other subjects. Are you a gambling private eye/accountant from Mississippi in a secret life or do you really enjoy research?
ME: I LOVE research. It was sheer joy to interview a police captain in Natchez, interview casino management and casino hosts in Bay St. Louis, and travel up and down the Mississippi River. It also helps to have an accountant, a Chief of Police and a Fire Chief for friends.
SS: From one author to another, are you an outliner or a pantser? How does that work for you?
ME: I’m sort of both. I do start with character sketches and a skeletal outline of chapters to maintain the pace. But as I write each scene I let the characters take over the action. I’m often surprised with what I get.
SS: Do you have a favorite author(s) who inspires you?
ME: In addition to my sisters (and brother) in Suspense Sisters (who are all awesome!) I like mysteries by Patricia Bradley, A. H. Gabhart and romances by Johnnie Alexander.
SS: Suspense Sisters are Christian authors. How do you incorporate your faith into your work?
ME: My central characters are Christians who try to live by Christ’s teachings and the Ten Commandments. For instance, when forced to lie on the job, they are bothered by their actions. In the book I’m working on now, my central character is a fallen-away Christian who yearns for a closer relationship with God, and finally seeks advice.
SS: Everyone always asks, so we will, too: Where do you get your ideas?
ME: That’s an easy question to answer. I love to travel and most of my story ideas come from my trips. Once I get away from the comfort zone of home, plot twists come to mind. And I don’t always have to go far. Sometimes a drive to a county where I’ve never been will stimulate ideas.
SS: What are your other interests besides writing?
ME: Besides writing and travel, I love to swim, ride bikes with my husband, and work in my yard which is usually a mess, despite my good intentions.
SS: Just for fun: tell us something that your readers might be surprised to know about you!
ME: My husband and I built our house ourselves, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical, drywall hanging—almost everything. It took us 3 years before we could move in, and another 10 years to “finish.” We’ll never do that again!
SS: Tell us about your latest release. Where can we learn more about you and your books?
ME: My next release is Sunset in Old Savannah, which should be available at the end of March on-line and in stores April 1st. In Savannah, everyone has something to hide. Investigative partners and best friends Michael Preston and Elizabeth Kirby are hired by a wealthy socialite to do surveillance on her wayward husband. When the husband turns up dead, the socialite becomes the police’s chief suspect. Mike and Beth must follow the clues through the historic town with more secrets than branches of moss-draped oaks. The duo uncovers a hodgepodge of potential murderers, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne'er-do-well brother. As praise of their agency gets around, Mike and Beth must hire investigator Kaitlyn Webb to ease the workload. But will ghosts of Kate’s past threaten everyone's safety before a killer can be put behind bars? Although this is book 4 of a series, each story stands on its own and makes complete sense without going in order. Readers can see everything I’ve written at www.maryellis.net
READERS: Leave a comment below (with your email address!) and we'll put your name in the hat to possibly win a copy of Sunset in Old Savannah that Mary has kindly offered!