Today, Wednesday Writers welcomes bestselling author Mary Ellis. Mary has written twelve bestselling novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Today she is featuring The Last Heiress. Mary will be giving away one signed print copy to someone who leaves a comment. (US only). Comments through noon EST of March 24 will be eligible for the drawing.
Welcome, Mary! Would you please tell us about The Last Heiress?
In The Last Heiress…she crossed the sea to save a legacy…finding love wasn’t part of her plan. Amanda Dunn set sail from England for Wilmington, North Carolina, hoping to restore shipments of cotton for her family’s textile mills, which have been disrupted by the American Civil War. But when she meets Nathaniel Cooper, her desire to conduct business and return to England changes. Amanda’s family deems the hardworking merchant unsuitable for the accomplished heiress. And when Nate himself begins to draw away, Amanda has her own battle on her hands. As the Union navy tightens its noose around Southern ports, Nate’s long lost brother, a Confederate officer, arrives in Wilmington with his regiment. Nate contemplates joining the Glorious Cause—not in support of slavery but to watch his brother’s back. Yet will his dangerous decision put his future with Amanda in jeopardy?
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
To provide the necessary background for The Last Heiress, I visited my childhood friend who lives in England. Carolyne told me about an ancestor connected to the textile industry in Manchester, along with a real-life industrial accident which I had to work into the story. Also I’ve visited Wilmington, NC many times and have become fascinated with blockade-running and the cotton industry. A coupled the two locations into one story.
I love when research dovetails like that. What are you working on now?
I have just completed a romantic suspense set in New Orleans from the Secrets of the South mystery series. My heroine has just landed a PI job, and is determined to clear her client’s name. Hunter Galen, a rich, powerful stockbroker has been charged with killing his business partner, a man who had been stealing from him. Midnight on the Mississippi will release in August 2015.
Sounds interesting. I can see from your previous answers you write in several genres.
I do write in more than one genre. I wrote a dozen books set in the Amish community and then switched to historical romance because I am passionate about American history. I recently changed again to my very first genre—romantic suspense. I have always loved reading mysteries set in the South, so now I am writing them too. I need to make changes to keep my writing and my stories fresh.
Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two?
I am a combination of the two. I create my characters and outline the plot on paper. Then I write the chapters of the book using my laptop. However if I get stuck, I grab a yellow legal pad and my favorite pen and go somewhere…the park, a coffee shop, or just a lawn chair in my backyard. The change of venue always reboots my creativity.
Do you write in the morning writer, afternoon, evening, or burn the midnight oil?
I am definitely an afternoon writer. I try to do emails, marketing work, and update social media in the morning and then devote the afternoon to my word count. During the evening I am usually too tired to be productive.
I’m always curious about other writers’ reading habits. What’s the first book you ever remember reading as a child?
I remember this Toby Tyler book about a little boy whose parents lived with the circus. I found all those poor animals in tight cages depressing at the time, but I loved the boy’s adventures.
What’s book are you reading now?
Right now I am reading No River Too Wide by Emilie Richards. Emilie writes excellent women’s fiction and historical romance.
How often do you read non-fiction?
I usually read three non-fiction texts or biographies if I’m crafting a historical romance to accurately portray the time period. And I usually read 2 or 3 non-fiction books for my mysteries to make sure I get the setting or the character’s vocations correct. Right now I just finished a book involving a stock broker set in the swamps of Louisiana and New Orleans. I needed to read plenty and research in person, which I enjoyed tremendously.
Enough about writing and reading. What do you do for relaxation?
I love to swim, but I don’t do that anywhere near often enough. I also walk my dog, work in my yard, and read on my porch to unwind.
What’s your favorite television show currently running?
Favorite show of all time? My favorite TV show right now is Elementary. What intriguing plots! And Little House on the Prairie is my favorite show of all time. How I yearned to be Laura Ingalls Wilder!
I love those shows, too!
We like to travel. What is the farthest place from your home that you have visited?
I suppose that would be Scotland when I visited England to research my current book, The Last Heiress. I loved visiting the moors and the lochs, although I spotted no monsters whatsoever.
Now I’m just plain envious. Those are the places I’d like to visit someday.
Now for some Quickies:
Favorite food? Popcorn. I eat it every day.
Favorite singer or band? Too many to select a favorite.
Favorite season? Summer, since I can’t stand to be cold.
Favorite flower? Lilies. They are so pure looking.
Favorite color? Pale green
Mug or teacup? Mug, a teacup doesn’t hold enough. I drink vast quantities of both tea and coffee.
Thanks for joining us today. As you leave, could you give the readers a peek into the philosophy you live by?
I would like to leave this for your readers: I try to live by faith, and let my faith be reflected in every thought, word, and deed. Thanks so much for having me on your blog.
About the Author: Mary Ellis has written twelve bestselling novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Midnight on the Mississippi is the first of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Her debut book was nominated for a 2010 Carol Award. Living in Harmony, won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction while Love Comes to Paradise won the 2013 Lime Award. She and her husband live in Ohio.
Contact Mary Ellis at:
The Last Heiress is a stand-alone historical romance, also set during the American Civil War. My heroine, Amanda Dunn is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. When the blockade of southern ports curtails the supply of cotton, her father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton factor, and also lives in Wilmington. When Amanda falls for a local shopkeeper, class distinction, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance.