Mary Ellis has written 20 novels. Her latest, Magnolia Moonlight, is part of a mystery series called Secrets of the South. Before retiring to write full-time, Mary taught middle school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. She enjoys gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat.
What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense?
Mary: There are two tied for first place. I find it’s often hard to keep the little details straight because in a longer length book, you end up with so many of them! And I find I must create a far more detailed outline before I begin than I did with historical romance or Amish romance. Otherwise, I will reveal certain key plot twists too soon.
How do you connect with your characters?
Mary: I look through magazines or the Internet for models, actors, or just average Joes who look like the characters in my head. Then it’s easier to put words in their mouths when I write dialogue. I have the pictures taped above my writing desk.
Where do you get the inspiration for your plots?
Mary: From travel. When I select a city to set one of my Southern mysteries, I go several times to get the feel for the area, the people, the food and the historical or cultural significance.
Current book: Magnolia Moonlight
What happens when two new private investigators discover everyone in town has something to hide with agendas longer than the Mississippi River?