Friday, September 28, 2018

Interview with mystery author Jessica Ellicott

Mystery author Jessica Ellicott joins me today to chat about her new historical novel, Murder Flies the Coop.

Jessica Ellicott is the author of the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries. She loves fountain pens, Mini Coopers and throwing parties. She lives in New England where she obsessively knits wool socks and enthusiastically speaks Portuguese with a shocking disregard for the rules of grammar. As Jessie Crockett she is the author of the Granite State Mysteries and the Sugar Grove Mysteries. She wrote the Change of Fortune Mysteries as Jessica Estevao.

Welcome, Jessica. Please tell us about your current release.
One would hardly call them birds of a feather, but thrill-seeking American adventuress Beryl Helliwell and quietly reserved Brit Edwina Davenport do one thing very well together—solve murders . . . Sharing lodging in the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva has eased some of the financial strain on the two old school chums, but money is still tight in these lean years following the Great War. All of Beryl's ex-husbands have proven reluctant to part with her alimony, which is most inconvenient. So when the local vicar—and pigeon-racing club president—approaches them with a private inquiry opportunity, the ladies eagerly accept. There's been a spot of bother: the treasurer has absconded with the club's funds and several prized birds. Beryl and Edwina hope to flush out the missing man by checking his boardinghouse and place of employment at the coal mine. But when they visit the man's loft, they find their elusive quarry lying in white feathers and a pool of crimson blood, stabbed to death—the only witnesses cooing mournfully. After a stiff gin fizz, the ladies resume their search for the missing funds and prized birds—and now a murderer. Beryl and Edwina aren't shy about ruffling a few feathers as they home in on their suspects. But they had better find the killer fast, before their sleuthing career is cut short . . .

What inspired you to write this book?
I start each of my historical mysteries by researching current events of the day. I happened upon an article concerning pigeon racing and the idea for this story began to take shape. The social and economic factors of the sport provided a lot of inspiration for a mystery. One of the best parts of the job is unearthing fascinating nuggets of information and finding ways to stitch them together into a novel.

Excerpt from Murder Flies the Coop:
Beryl Helliwell watched as her friend Edwina Davenport capped her fountain pen and laid it on the desk in front of her. The morning post had yielded several pointed and chiding reminders from local merchants of accounts past due as well as a vexing dearth of alimony checks. Clearly the results of Edwina’s calculations could not be considered good news.

“It’s all here in black and white on the ledger page. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say in red and white.”

“Come on now, Ed, it can’t be as bad as all that, can it?” Beryl asked. “After all, we were tediously careful with the funds all winter long.”

“One can never be careful enough to make not enough go as far as one needs,” Edwina said.

“Just last Sunday your dreary vicar was nattering on about some story or other from the Good Book about miracles and unending supplies of bread and fish or some such a thing. Can’t you make the same thing work with the bookkeeping?” Beryl asked. Beryl noticed her friend looked shocked at the suggestion.

But then, Edwina was easily shocked.

“The vicar is not the most prepossessing of men but I would hardly call him dreary. And the parable of the loaves and the fishes is not meant as a lesson in resource husbandry. It certainly isn’t meant to encourage the congregation to tread all over the toes of the Almighty by assuming one can just as easily perform such miracles.” Edwina shook her head at Beryl and delivered a severe look. “The only thing close to a miracle I’ve managed lately by way of stretching the comestibles is to water down your gin.”

“I had wondered about my increased capacity for alcohol recently,” Beryl said. “Rather a shortsighted approach, you know. I’ve only gone and consumed twice as much of it.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently developing the plotline for the fourth book in the Beryl and Edwina series.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think it was in the second grade when my class was given an assignment to write a story prompted by an advertisement featuring the Marlboro Man. I made him a bandit and have thought of myself as someone who writes crime stories 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. Generally, I devote mornings to writing or revising and afternoons to the business side of the job like blog posts, answering emails and setting up events. I try not to eat lunch at my desk but most days fail miserably! I finish up by early afternoon and spend evenings with my family and friends.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think it might be that I start all books by writing and then answering questions in a notebook. I prefer using A5 Rhodia notebooks and a favorite fountain pen. There is something about writing slowly by hand that feels to me like all things are possible, at least in the fictional world.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The only thing I ever really wanted to be was a writer. I feel like one of the luckiest people I know!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love to connect with readers through my group blog The Wickeds and also via my newsletter.


Thanks for being here today!

No comments: