Friday, December 9, 2011

Una Tiers Interviews Ellis

I'm delighted to interview Ellis Vidler about her new book, Cold Comfort.  Let's start with a little background about your first two novels, Haunting Refrain and The Peeper.
My grandmother had a streak of psychic ability—she knew when something was wrong with a family member, so that sort of thing always interested me. I don't know how Haunting Refrain came to me, but that's what I wanted to write. After a writing class with Scott Regan, I decided I'd better get on with it.
I met Jim Christopher, a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) veteran, and he had an idea for a story. He asked if I'd like to write it with him. It was such fun, and I learned so much from him.
And you just published some short stories?  Yes, Tea in the Afternoon, is a collection of three Southern stories, based on remembrances I heard and people I knew, but they're entirely fictitious.
You have a touching dedication to Tea.  It's dedicated to my parents, who gave me a wonderful childhood. We lived in a small town in Mississippi where my friend and I rode double, barefoot and bareback, on her horse though fields and back roads. We stopped at farmhouses for water for us and the horse.
Then my family moved to another small town in Alabama, where I played outside all day, usually in the river bottom or woods. The rule was home by dark. It was a different world.
Can you tell us an early memory about your parents and books? My father read Tarzan of the Apes and the Oz books to me when I was very young. Tarzan remains one of my favorites. Mother read to me too. They said, "You'll learn to read for yourself when you go to school." I cried after my first day of kindergarten because they didn't teach me to read.
 Now we can talk about Cold Comfort. Where is the book set? Claire, my protagonist, owns a Christmas shop in Williamsburg, VA.  There are also scenes on the South Carolina coast at McClellanville and Georgetown and some in Washington, DC.
How did you create your villain? I usually see the characters first, and he suited the crime I had in mind. He did evolve a little more as I wrote, but I saw him from the beginning.  You identify aftershave and tobacco with him.  Why? Both are unpleasant smells to me and seemed to fit in his character. I wanted Claire to have hints of trouble but nothing specific at first.
What about Claire Spencer, where did she come from? Claire’s strong sense of doing what she has to came from a friend I admired.  The rest of her grew and developed as I wrote. My critique partners thought she was too ladylike and pushed me to make her tougher. They were right. She's not a kickass type, but she's strong and determined.
Your pace in Cold Comfort is fast.  How do you help the reader mark how much time has passed? Goodness, I don't know. I guess I just tell when the scenes occur. You know, in the morning, by mid afternoon, at four o'clock, whatever it is. All my books take place in a short period of time. I like the sense of urgency that comes from time limits.
You are so prolific, what's next? I'm working on two books, one about Kate McGuire's friend Gwen, from Haunting Refrain, and a character from Cold Comfort. This one begins on Isla Mujeres in Mexico and ends up in the southeastern United States.
The second one is about Kate's cousin, Alex Jenrette, who also has some inconvenient psychic ability. It's set on a fictitious island off the coast of Charleston, SC. I love the bad guys in this one, but the good guy is giving me trouble. I think he needs a personality transplant.
Thank you for meeting with me, Cold Comfort sounds great.
            Una, you're a dear to do this. I can't wait till your book, Judge vs Nuts, comes out. You're such a funny character yourself, I know it's going to be a fun read. I expect you back when it's released.
Here's Una's cover. Her book will be released soon.

Ellis's Book is available at


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Ellis and Una,

Your books sound like wonderful reads!

Evelyn David said...


I'll have to add these books to my "to buy" list.

Ellis Vidler said...

Jacqueline, thank you. We both hope people enjoy them. Una's will be out soon. I can't wait to read it.

Ellis Vidler said...

Evelyn, thank you. Let us know what you think. We'd love to hear from you. Una will be here blogging when hers comes out, and I live here. :-)

Una Tiers said...

Ellis was fortunate to grow up with books, she has passed that legacy to her grandkids. However, she asks them to read her Kindle at her house.
Thanks for the nice opportunity Ellis.

Polly Iyer said...

I'm fortunate to have read Cold Comfort as she was writing it. It's a terrific book. I've read the ones in progress too. I wish she'd hurry up and finish them because they're so good. Ellis is a talented lady. Great interview, Una.

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds a really good read. Great interview.

Sandy Cody said...

Oh dear! My TBR list just longer. I think I'll push Cold Comfort near the top though.

Ellis Vidler said...

Sandy, thank you. When is your next one coming out? I hope you'll come back and write something else for me.

Ellis Vidler said...

Sheila, thank you for stopping by.

Polly Iyer will be here next Friday to talk about her new book, InSight. Since we're critique partners, we've read each other's work. :-)

Sandy said...

Ellis & Una,

Wonderful interview! I have Haunting Refrain and can't wait to read it. Your new book sounds just as good!

Best of luck to you both.


Linda Lovely said...

Ellis, Cold Comfort is a terrific read, and I hope you'll get cracking on finishing one of those two works in progress soon! Una, I enjoyed the interview and will look forward to your book as well.

Dick Lindsey said...

Enjoyed the interview,hard for me to believe the young girl I knew in that small Alabama town is now known as Ellis Vidler.

Una Tiers said...

I'm kind young myself Dick.


Ellis Vidler said...

Dick, it's been awhile, hasn't it? Do you remember Mrs. Areheart? And Miss Reynolds? I think they recognized that reality wasn't my best bet and so encouraged me to write fiction. Even Mr. Scurlock, who took issue with some of the information on a paper I wrote about Jeb Stuart. But it was a fun time.

Ellis Vidler said...

Una, thank you for thinking of this. It was fun. Next time I'll interview you. As soon as Judge vs Nuts comes out!

Anonymous said...

speaking of english teachers at Coffee, I believe we had four of the best cant say the same for history/social science teachers except for Mr.Scurlock. Have a great Christmas and a happy New Year.