My guest today on Awesome Authors is the fabulous mystery-suspense author, Ellis Vidler. I’ve known Ellis since I found the supportive writer’s group, Sisters-in-Crime, and their sub-group, the Guppies. Ellis is an author, editor, and speaker. She grew up in North Alabama, studied English and art at All Saints College for Women, and thoroughly enjoyed studying creative writing under the great Scott Regan. She also taught elements of fiction at a community college. Her home is now the South Carolina Piedmont with her husband and dogs.
(From the author’s bio): As a child in the South, Ellis spent long, hot days imagining herself an Indian or pioneer or musketeer. At night she (and her whole family) read. From Tarzan and D’Artagnan to Anne Shirley and Nancy Drew, she lived them all. No angst in her childhood. So what did she do as an adult? Write fiction, what else? She loves creating characters and making them do what she wants, but mostly they take off on their own and leave her hurrying to catch up.
Hi Ellis! Thanks for joining us. J Tell us a little about yourself and your writing:
EV: I grew up on everything from Tarzan to Nancy Drew and Jane Eyre, and I’ve always loved reading and writing. My career began with illustrating and morphed into editing and technical writing. Now I write fiction and love it.
DV: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
EV: I can’t remember not wanting to be a writer.
DV: What compels you to write?
EV: The characters in my head—they want to have their stories told, even though the stories evolve and shoot off in new directions as I write them.
DV: What do you enjoy most about writing in the crime genre? Dislike? How much research goes into one of your books?
EV: Suspense is what I aim for, but there’s always an element of romance. Relationships are part of life, and for me, they make a story richer. I can’t stick with the required elements long enough for them to be called romances. For example, in Prime Target, the main characters don’t meet until Chapter 10, a no-no in romance, but that’s the way it worked out. It’s a love story on my terms.
I research everything, trying to get the details right. It’s an obsession, but it’s also a good way to get sidetracked. One interesting fact can lead me down a lengthy detour.
“Relationships are part of life, and for me, they make a story richer…”
DV: Sounds familia . J In the McGuire Women series, your protagonists have psychic abilities. Why did you choose to go in that direction with your main characters? What were the challenges you faced?
EV: My grandmother was psychic. I think hers was considered telepathy. She knew when any of her family was ill or injured, no matter where they were. I was there and saw it, so I know it was real. After Haunting Refrain came out, I found out her brother had the same ability. Psychic ability has always fascinated me, in spite of the charlatans. One of my cousins has some of it; however, none of the family “gift” passed to me.
DV: Do you ever include your own life experiences in your plots?
EV: Yes, they do work their way in, but I alter them to fit the story. My main characters tend to like what I like and experience many of the same things. In Cold Comfort,Claire is with Riley in a small plane. The events of the flight and the storm actually happened to me and my husband—proof that ignorance is bliss.
DV: What are you currently working on?
EV: I just approved my first audio book, Time of Death and Haunting Refrain will be Prime Target and get it to my beta readers. I love it, but the story is different, and I don’t know how it will go over.out next month. I have two terrific narrators and can’t wait for the books to be released. Also, I’m trying hard to wrap up
DV: That sounds intriguing! I can’t wait… What’s your process when you write? Do you outline or just get an idea and run with it?
EV: Until now I’ve been a pantser, running with a vague idea, but I’m determined to have something of an outline for the next book. I’d like to know if something’s not going to work before I’ve written 100 pages.
DV: I know that feeling. J Tell us about your road to publication. What words of wisdom would you like to impart to writers who are just starting out?
EV: Study your craft and persevere. My first book, Haunting Refrain, was much more luck than judgment. I had no idea how little I knew. It’s amazing that a publisher actually wanted it. I’ve been both traditionally and self-published. There are pros and cons to each. Writers have to decide which one suits them. Personally, I like the control I have in doing it myself and intend to stick with “indie” publishing.
“…I’m determined to have something of an outline for the next book. I’d like to know if something’s not going to work before I’ve written 100 pages.”
DV: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where do you see the publishing industry in 5 years?
EV: Ideally, I’d like to have several more books out. Ebooks are becoming more and more popular, but I don’t think print books are going to disappear. With the advent of earbuds and tiny players, audio is gaining too. It’s a very exciting time for writers—lots of change and opportunity but the main thing is still to produce a good story. That won’t change.
DV: What strategies work best for you when promoting a novel?
EV: Goodness, I’ve tried so many. Twitter, Facebook, freebies (I doubt if I’ll do any more of those), ads on certain reader sites… I have a blog with lots of articles, I but rarely post now.
Luck, timing, and word of mouth are the best, and you have no control over any of those things.
“It’s a very exciting time for writers—lots of change and opportunity but the main thing is still to produce a good story.”
DV: If you could travel back in time (or forward) where would you go and why?
EV: I wouldn’t give up electricity, hot water, the microwave, or the Internet. I like my creature comforts. J I’d probably go back to my twenties (a long time ago) and get serious about my writing sooner.
DV: Hmm. Good idea. Now, if I could just figure out where I put that pesky Time Machine… Thanks so much for stopping by today, Ellis! Good luck on your new releases!
If you’d like to find out more about Ellis and her work, please check out the links below:
NOTE: This is reposted from DV Berkom's blog (with photos updated).