Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, What Happened on Beale Street, is second of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. 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. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236
Today, we’re interviewing Mary Ellis, author of best-selling Amish novels, historical fiction, and suspense thrillers. Mary, if you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
Mary Ellis has found the best vocation in the world—crafting stories for people who love to read.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?
I’d like to say sky-diving or underwater salvage recovery. But alas, like many writers my hobbies are reading, gardening, and taking long walks. However I swim, ride my bike, and snorkel as often as I can. Snorkeling in the Caribbean is my absolute favorite past-time.
What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
I was given a full-color, illustrated book of Bible Stories when I was about six. I loved reading the tales of Moses, Noah, and Jonah. It triggered my curiosity and began my lifetime love of the Lord. I still have that wonderful book today.
What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?
I wrote Amish fiction for a number of years and then wrote three romances set during the Civil War. I enjoyed both genres very much, but I exhausted my supply of storylines. Regarding historical romance, my decision to leave the genre was influenced by my publisher. I returned to my first published genre—romantic suspense. And here I will joyously stay until no longer able to write. I love my current series, Secrets of the South Mysteries.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism was probably that I included too much historical detail in my romance. When dealing with history, I can’t imagine how to avoid plenty of details. My best compliment was that a reader stayed up all night to finish the book. Although they had to go to work the next day, this reader couldn’t put my book down. That made my day!
If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?
After trying to sell my first book for six months, my agent said there was no market for the genre I wrote. I ignored her advice and wrote a second book that she was also unable to sell. After I changed genres, my agent was able to sell my work. My foot was finally in the door, but I would have saved time and aggravation had I taken her advice sooner.
Before we end this interview, I have one more question. What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?
Don’t give up. Keep honing your craft while learning the business end of publishing. Each of us, whether published or not, must keep improving. There is no “treading water” in this volatile marketplace.
How Can Music So Beautiful
Hide Something So Deadly?
A cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from New Orleans to Memphis. When these two private investigators arrive at Danny Andre’s last known address, they discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the choirboy they fondly remember.
Danny’s sister, Isabelle, reluctantly accepts their help. She and Nate aren’t on the best of terms due to a shared past. Can they get beyond painful memories to find her brother?
And what on earth was Danny involved in besides becoming a rising star as a sax player? Nate and Nicki follow clues into dim and smoky clubs, trail potential stalkers, and challenge dangerous men with connections to underworld drug trafficking. To complicate things, the hotel they are staying in has its own secrets. Confronted with murder and mystery in the land of the Delta blues, the cousins and Isabelle will have to rely on their faith and investigative experience to solve the case and not lose their lives.
Mary Ellis is the bestselling author of numerous novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. What Happened on Beale Street is the second book in a new romantic suspense series, Secrets of the South. Mary and her husband live in Ohio.