Happy December! Can you believe 2015 will soon come to an end? It doesn't seem possible. Today I'm delighted to interview, Mary Ellis.
Welcome Mary! How did you develop a 'love of story'?
I think most writers are natural born storytellers. And telling a story is the crux of any novel. But I went to many hands-on workshops and took dozens of classes on creating characters, developing plotlines, and self-editing my work before I produced something publishers would buy and readers would read. I believe authors should continue to hone their craft indefinitely.
In other words, storytelling is in your blood. :) Tell your readers about a typical day in your life.
I’m an early bird, so I’m usually up by 6:00 am. During coffee and breakfast, I read the paper and a chapter or two of fiction. Then I do 15 minutes of stretching exercises, say my prayers, and head to my office around 8:30 each morning, 5 days a week. I work till around 4:00 or 5:00, with an hour off to walk my dog and eat lunch. I must stay regimented or I won’t meet deadlines. But I absolutely love writing, so those hours are (usually) enjoyable. I usually spend Saturdays with family and friends (I love going to the movies!) and use Sunday for going to church and centering my thoughts. If I don’t I lose perspective and worry about everything!
I'm sure keeping a schedule and being disciplined helps you to stay on target. Where did you get the inspiration for your latest book?
My latest book, Midnight on the Mississippi, is set in New Orleans, LA. I fell in love with that city years ago while my mother in law was living on the panhandle of Florida. My husband and I have been back a dozen times to research and to simply enjoy the European, old world atmosphere.
Research trips are fun. :) What does your writing space look like?
Since we seldom get overnight guests, my guest room is also my office. I have a lovely Amish-made desk, a comfortable chair, plenty of light, and a view of my wooded yard. But my favorite place to write is my screened-in porch. It overlooks a ravine where I often see wild turkeys, deer, and an occasional fox. Unfortunately, Ohio weather only allows for outdoor writing six months of the year. We just packed away the porch furniture yesterday.
I can just imagine your Amish-made desk. The Amish are prevalent here in PA, and they do incredible workmanship. Your writing spot sounds peaceful. How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?
I can’t imagine starting my day without bowing my head in prayer first. God is responsible for any success I have enjoyed. His Holy Spirit sits in my heart, guiding my creative process. When I neglect my prayers and quiet meditation, I stumble and struggle, yet when I give credit where credit is due, I thrive and produce.
I know what you mean. Prayer and time with the Lord first thing each morning helps to guide my day as well. Where do you get ideas?
Usually from travelling to where I wish to set a story. People are influenced by where they live. Even within the same state I find mountain residents different from those living on the coast. I usually research and outline for a solid month before I start a new book. Since currently I’m working on book 3 of the series, I just came home from Natchez and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where I discovered plenty of plot twists. Magnolia Moonlight will release in the fall of 2016.
It sounds like it was a fun trip. I'm sure your readers eagerly await the next installment. Tell us a little about yourself.
I married my college sweetheart six days after graduation with a BS in Education and taught school for 10 years. After we brought a house close to Ohio’s famous Amish country, I began writing while working as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. I wrote for at least six years before finding my current agent and publisher. Since then I’ve written 12 Amish and 3 historical romances. Since my favorite books are mysteries, I’ve begun a new series for Harvest House Publishers called Secrets of the South Mysteries. Midnight on the Mississippi is first in the series and What Happened on Beale Street, set in Memphis, will release in March of 2016. I love to connect with readers at: www.maryellis.net or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236
I chuckled when I read your responses because I married my college sweetheart a week after graduation, also with a BS in Education. :) It sounds like we lived close, at least for a while since I spent a lot of years in Hershey too. Thanks again for sitting down with us today. I wish you the best with your writing endeavors.
Leave a comment for your chance to win a mystery gift this month.