1.) Ellis, you write amazing crime fiction suspense with a splash of romance. How did you navigate to that genre? Was there a particular writer or TV show that inspired you?
That's what I like to read. I think it started with Helen MacInnes and Mary Stewart. I thought espionage or suspense stories with a little romance made perfect reading. I don't know enough to write espionage stories, but there are plenty of other schemes and plots to choose from.
2.) Your setting descriptions are incredible! I feel like I'm there with your characters and can see what they see. When you write about a certain location (for example, in Cold Comfort, you start the story in Colonial Williamsburg), do you visit first and envision the action taking place there? Or are you able to imagine what the place is like from something you've read about a particular town or area? Is there one place you would like to go because you know it would make an awesome setting?
If possible I go to the place or use places I've been, but with some settings I feel comfortable using what I can research. The Internet helps tremendously, but there are so many things to consider. With an unfamiliar location, I'd prefer at least talking to people who live or have recently been to the place
I'd love to go to Isla Mujeres, the island near Cancun. I have the beginning of a novel set there, but it needs a lot of research. There are so many fascinating locales - my job is to find the ones that suit the story.
3.) Your newest novel, Time of Death, has recently been released. Can you whet our appetites with a brief snippet?
In this scene, Alex is compelled to draw. This is how her psychic ability is expressed. Isobel is the aunt she's visiting on an island off Charleston, S.C.
"You're drawing again." Isobel picked up one of the loose pages and examined it. "Are the visions coming back?"
The charcoal stick gripped in Alex's hand darted across the sheet in front of her as if driven by its own will. "Umm, maybe," she mumbled, barely aware of the question. Under her fingers, angry waves churned against the shore. Like flotsam rising to the surface of the sea, a dark figure emerged in the wake of the flying charcoal. She grabbed a scarlet pastel, smeared it through the water around the body.
As suddenly as it had come, the tension drained from her. She dropped the chalk and leaned back, rubbing her temples. "Blood. A man in the water."
"You haven't done this since the boy in Asheville, have you?"
Isobel massaged her shoulders, and Alex arched her back, leaning into her aunt's hands. "This is the first time."
"Any idea where this one is?"
"No. Only a man in the water. Ocean, judging from the waves, but I don't know where."
In this scene, readers meet Connor Moran, the federal prosecutor who's spent the last year building a case against the bad guy. Joe is another prosecutor, and Jax is Connor's dog, a retired military working dog.
His office door opened -- Lawrence, his boss, stuck his head in, glancing around the floor while he hung onto the handle. He opened it wide and stepped inside. "Moran, do you own a white shirt? If not, buy one. Justice is coming down from Washington in a couple of days, and we're supposed to look like lawyers, not gangsters." Lawrence fit right in with conservative South Carolina politics.
Connor shrugged, emphasizing his charcoal shirt, knowing it would annoy the man. "Got a white T-shirt with a Harley logo. That do?"
Lawrence frowned. "Don't ____ with me. And get a hair cut." He closed the door.
Joe nodded toward the hallway. "He'll get you one day. He was looking for Jax. Good thing you left him at home today. That dog doesn't like him, and it shows."
4.) As writers, we seem to be in plotting-mode most of the time. Do you find yourself mentally writing the next book even though you're in the middle of physically writing one?
Oh, yes! I'm terrible about stopping one to start a new idea before I forget. Then I want to go on with the new one. I have more beginnings of stories than I'll ever be able to write.
5.) Is there one thing that stands out from your writing and publishing journey that you wished you knew ahead of time? Or some simple tidbit that you've learned along the way that now makes the process easier?
I wish I'd started writing seriously much earlier. Waiting till you have time is never a good thing. Do it now!
If I can make myself plan out a loose, very general plot, the writing is much easier. I'm inclined to be a pantster, but it's too easy to get lost that way.
6.) You have some great titles for your books. Do you know the title before you start the story or does it come after you've written several chapters?
I struggle with titles. They don't come easily. I'd like to know how you do it, Jan. I love your titles. I buy the books before I know anything about them, just from the titles.
Aww, Ellis, thank you! For some of my books I know the title right away, with some they develop organically. I've been known to change the title when I'm half finished with a story.
Thank you for stop by my blog today, Ellis! You're an amazing author and you have some amazing books out there. Can you tell readers how to find you and your books?
Not very original, am I? Except for the blog, it's all Ellis Vidler.
Facebook -- Ellis Vidler https://www.facebook.com/ellis.vidler?ref=tn_tnmn
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Website -- http://www.ellisvidler.com
Blog -- http://theunpredictablemuse.blogspot.com