Thursday, April 5, 2012

Welcome, Ellis Vidler!

Today I'd like to welcome author, Ellis Vidler to my blog! Ellis writes stories laced with romance and a lot of suspense!


By Ellis Vidler

     When you're in a place with atmosphere or some unique quality, does it trigger your imagination? It does mine. On those infamous dark and stormy nights, do you see murder and mayhem? A wild romance? What happens when you see a charming cottage? A busy street in a big city? These are the things that start story ideas churning in my head. Since I lean toward crime fiction, I try to fit the crime to the scene that intrigues me. What kind of character would be out on that wild night? Why? Soon a story idea is born. Some are depressingly short-lived, mind you, but they're fun to think up.

     For several years, I traveled as part of my job. I had the good fortune to work in Maine, Spain, Holland, Mexico, and many other fascinating places. I took pictures but it was before digital cameras, so I have to dig them out and scan them. (I'm mentally merged with my computer now) I have hundreds of half-baked ideas that I need to consider.

     Setting is such an important part of a story, almost another character. When you think about place, consider how it affects all five senses. If you're near the sea, can you smell the salt air? Fish? Pluff mud (the wet, pungent soil found in marshes)? If you're downtown in a city, what are the sounds? A lonely saxophone wailing in the night? The constant honking of taxi horns? How about touch? Do you feel the humidity, the wind? Are surfaces gritty? The rich details (in moderation, of course) bring places to life.

     I carry my camera, a small digital one, everywhere. It's a wonderful tool for bringing back memories. A recorder is another. Tell it what's passing through your mind concerning the other four senses. It's all useful.

     How do you use setting? Do you enjoy reading about places, the kind where you say "Oh, I've been there. I remember how the icicles hung from all the rooflines" or "Yes, the wind carried the scent of the pines"? Do you have some examples to share?

     Ellis Vidler bio

     All my stories have some degree of romance and a lot of suspense. Cold Comfort is my new romantic suspense, set in Williamsburg in a Christmas shop. My first book, published by Silver Dagger Mysteries, was Haunting Refrain, which takes place in Greenville, SC, and the surrounding area. The second was The Peeper, a suspense novel co-authored with Jim Christopher; it's set on a small college campus in SC. My collection of three short Southern stories, Tea in the Afternoon, is available on Kindle. There's more about me and my books at or

     Cold Comfort

     Claire Spencer owns a charming Christmas shop in Williamsburg and leads a conventional life. When a thug attacks her, she hires security consultant Ben Riley to find out why. Old letters in a hidden trunk direct Claire and Riley to connections between politics and organized crime, revealing secrets that turn her life upside down. or

     Jan, thanks so much for letting me visit.

     Ellis, thank you for being a guest on my blog today! I'm reading Cold Comfort right now and it's awesome!


  1. Interesting post. I think it's impossible to overrate the importance of setting. How do I use setting? It's really another character. I know, you already said that, but it's true. Setting forms our characters just as the soil in which plants grow forms them.

  2. Great cover on Cold Comfort!
    I like doing settings, and feel they are important in putting the reader into the story. That said, I believe that challenge is to make them interesting and SHORT!

  3. Sandy, I use it as a character too. You're right. It changes the story and the characters. I don't believe they'd be the same in a different setting.

  4. Thanks, Marla. Karen Syed did it. It reminds me of Williamsburg at Christmas, which is the story setting.
    I try to remember what someone (a Miss Bowen, I believe) said, “Scene can only be justified where it has dramatic use.” So I keep it short.

  5. Such a great post! I love reading and writing a setting. The mood, lighting, scents - all draw me deeper into a story. I agree with the comments here: short and interesting works best.

    1. Isabella, I agree too--short is almost always better (few of us can do what Pat Conroy does). A powerful setting adds so much to a story.

  6. Ellis, what a great post about setting. It plays such a big part in my writing. Also a big part in my daydreams. Show me a picture of some beautiful or unusual place and my brain is off and running. Now if I could just write all that down. Your books sound really interesting. I'll have to go check them out.

    Jan, it's great that you had Ellis as a guest writer for your blog. Looking forward to more guest posts.

  7. Teri, I love finding pictures of unique locales on the Internet. They always trigger daydreams and once in a while work their way into a book. What fun!