–Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
Time of Death, my new suspense novel, will be released November 19th. Artist Alex Jenrette has a psychic streak—or is it a curse? While visiting on an island near Charleston, she draws scenes of murder that turn out to be real. The police think she’s involved, the prosecutor fears a psychic witness will destroy his case, and the killer believes she was there. But she wasn’t, and she doesn’t know who’s behind it.
–When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
I wish I could say I am, but they take over. I start out with a vague plan, and they quickly take me in a different direction. I thought Time of Death would be romantic suspense, but Alex and Connor just weren’t ready to move fast enough. We fought about it, but they dug their heels in.
–Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?
We tend to gush. J But there’s always “Bless your heart.” It fits so many situations, it’s a good one to know.
–If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be?
Tough decision. Maybe Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan books among others, or Helen MacInnes, an early romantic suspense author who never failed to take me to another place. Their books, tattered and stained, are on my shelves now. I wept for the Ulan horsemen in MacInnes’s While Still We Live, set mostly in Poland during WWII; and I still give all the young readers in my family copies of Tarzan of the Apes.
–What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”? I think it should be “write what you have a hope of understanding or imagining.” I wouldn’t write about life as a Afghani woman, but I’d try being an American in a foreign city. I don’t want to be limited to what I already know. You can expand your horizons through research and interviews and study.
–How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
Fiction—I like to wander. Suspense or romantic suspense is what I’m comfortable doing. I like spy thrillers but don’t feel I have enough experience to pull one off.
–Beside “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”? I’m an editor, have been an illustrator and technical writer. I like to play with covers and cover art. Photoshop is more addictive than Spider Solitaire.
–What is your VERB? (This is a big poster at a local mall)? If you had to choose ONE verb that describes you and you behavior or attitude, what would it be?
To dream. My father was a dreamer and taught me. I’m never bored if I can wander off (mentally) and dream.
–Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
Yes, a major part. Some of my earliest memories are of my father reading Tarzan of the Apes and The Wizard of Oz to me. We had books everywhere, and both my parents read a great deal. When we went on vacation to a cabin at the lake or to the beach, we packed a cardboard box of books. I started reading The Lord of the Rings to my son when he was born. (When he began to understand more, I switched to stories for him though. J)
–Any teachers who influenced you…encouraged you or discouraged?
I will always be grateful to Mrs. Allen, my fourth grade teacher; Mrs. Areheart, 11th grade English; and to Scott Reagan, who taught a creative writing class that I took three times. They’re the ones who stand out, but there were others who encouraged me. Teachers have amazing influence. They should be honored for the tremendous work they do.
–How do your characters “come” to you? Are they based loosely or closely on people you know?
They usually spring full-blown from my head like Athena. I read or see something, maybe a picture, and the character pops up. My characters share some traits with people I know, but they aren’t based on them.
–Are you in a critique or writing group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?
I was in a group for several years. They were wonderfully helpful, and each one saw different things. I enjoyed it. Now I have a great critique partner whom you may know: Polly Iyer—she’s an excellent writer and does her best to keep me on track. I’d have given up if it weren’t for her.
Visit her website at www.ellisvidler.com
Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A02GD68