Thursday, October 1, 2015

Interview with suspense author Ellen Byerrum

Today’s special guest is mystery author Ellen Byerrum. She’s chatting about her debut suspense thriller novel, The Dollhouse in the Crawlspace.

During her virtual book tour, Ellen will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Ellen Byerrum is a novelist, playwright, reporter, former Washington D.C. journalist, and a graduate of private investigator school in Virginia. 

The Dollhouse in the Crawlspace is her first suspense thriller. It introduces a young woman, Tennyson Claxton, whose mind seems to hold the memories of two very different women. Ellen also writes the Crime of Fashion Mysteries, which star a savvy, stylish female sleuth named Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington D.C., "The City Fashion Forgot." Two of the COF books, Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover, were filmed for the Lifetime Movie Network. The latest in the series is Lethal Black Dress, with more to come. She has also penned a middle grade mystery, The Children Didn’t See Anything.

Welcome, Ellen. Please tell us about your current release.
Tennyson Claxton is a woman who after a terrible accident finds herself in a private institution for the memory-impaired. She has memory loss, as well as double memories. Years of her life are blank, yet she remembers being two very different women. One is an heiress called Tennyson, the other is Marissa from a humble background. She finds herself engaged to a man she doesn’t remember and doesn’t like, let alone love. Her family members are strangers to her. To save her sanity and her life, she begins a secret journal between the lines of Homer’s Odyssey—and her own harrowing odyssey into madness and murder.

What inspired you to write this book?

Something darker than my other mystery series appealed to me and I pondered the question: What would it be like to wake up rich one day, unimaginably rich? What would the consequences of that be and how could it even happen? I love to read suspense.

Excerpt from The Dollhouse in the Crawlspace:
In my memories, my eyes are always green.
As green as the dark and dangerous sea, my grandfather used to say. Mermaid’s eyes, he called them. Eyes that changed, from the color of seaweed, to sea glass, to the green of troubled water. Yet I was never troubled, when my eyes were green.
There are huge gaps of time, years, when I don’t remember anything about my life. Still, I am quite convinced that my eyes were always green.
Even in my double memories, they are green. Even though I seem to remember being two people, they are green. It doesn’t matter if I recall being a child with blond streaks in my braids, collecting shells with my grandfather at the stony edge of the sea, or if I think I was a dark-haired girl riding a new pony, under the watchful eye of my pretty mother. My eyes are always green.
These days the mirror tells me my eyes are not green. They are brown. As brown as leaves that die in the fall.
I’m writing down these words because I don’t know if tomorrow I will remember what I know today. I have too many memories. Like the memory of my eyes. But I also have memory losses. Great chunks of time are missing. Frankly, I’m terrified of losing more pieces of myself, no matter how small.
“Green eyes are a false memory, Tennyson,” according to Dr. Embry. “You never had green eyes.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a book, The Brief Luminous Flight of the Firefly, which is set during World War II in Washington, D.C., with a character mentioned in my Crime of Fashion mysteries, Mimi Smith. I want to look at how the war affected women on the home front and how crime still touched lives. The women who lived during that time and took on responsibilities and ran the factories and businesses inspire me. I’ll also be working on the 11th book in the COF series, The Masque of the Red Dress, and a sequel to The Dollhouse in the Crawlspace, tentatively titled In Memory of Me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In college, when I was working on plays and working toward my journalism degree. And ever since.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time, but I always have. More than full-time. I was a reporter in D.C. for many years, but continued to work on plays before I switched to writing mysteries. My day usually starts with aqua aerobics. It helps me get going and sets my mind up to work. I deal with business after I get home. Then, it’s anyone’s guess. Depending on what stage of a work I’m in, I might write at home or take my laptop to the library, where I have fewer distractions.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I drew a blank but my husband says my writing quirk is having to use obsolete Acer laptops with built-in ergonomic keyboards. I have three of them. Hey, I NEED an ergonomic keyboard and no one makes them anymore! Also, I’m not going to drag an attachable keyboard around with me. Are you listening, computer makers?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress or a writer. I decided on writer at 12.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m usually on Facebook every day and my website is updated. Cheers. And thanks so much for letting me visit here today.


Thank you, Ellen!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said...

I really enjoy your books! You do a great job writing the books. Thanks.

Mai T. said...

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Ellen Byerrum said...

Good morning everyone and thanks for having me, Lisa. Mai, that's a really interesting question. I have had a couple of Lifetime Television Network movies made of a couple of my books. The thing is I try not to picture a specific actor in a part because I've been a playwright and I have seen people I didn't know do amazing things. But I suppose that Giles, who is in his 30ths, is someone like a young George Clooney, because he is very handsome. I could see Blythe Danner as Octavia. But I don't really have Tennyson in mind. She's young, in her 20s and very attractive. She also needs to be able to play two characters convincingly.

I hope that helps.

Stormy Vixen said...

I enjoyed the interview, this sounds like a really good book, thanks for sharing it!

Merit Clark said...

Ellen, that sounds like a really complex, intriguing story! It's got me very curious, especially the part about her eyes. I was wondering if you had any special technique you used to help you keep your plot lines straight?

Ellen Byerrum said...

Thanks Eva and Merit for stopping by and commenting.

I guess I'm more interested in whether the plot lines ultimately come together than keeping them straight. Kidding. I think if the characters are well defined then the stories follow. And I don't write more plot lines than I can handle. Very provocative question. Now I'm thinking about it. Thank you.

Victoria Alexander said...

This sounds like an amazing book - I can't wait to read it! Thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed the excerpt. I liked the interview too. Thank you this book sound so intriguing. I want to learn more.