Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Warm and Cozy Author

Today I have with me Ellen Kennedy, a writer I met recently at a Raleigh event.
Ellen is the author of Murder in the Past Tense as well as other grammar-related murder mysteries.
Good morning, Ellen. Before we get into your book, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m married, we celebrated our 40th anniversary last summer. We have two grown daughters and five utterly loveable grandchildren who live just close enough to let us spoil them.
How long have you been writing?
I used to be a copywriter, turning out commercials for TV and radio, as well as print ads. I used to joke that my attention span was only 30 seconds. Apparently, as time went by, my attention span increased to the length of a novel! (About 75,000 words.) I started writing mysteries about 15 years ago, squeezing them in between episodes of real life: putting daughters through college, planning weddings, taking care of elderly relatives, etc.  My recent mystery series with Sheaf House Publishers was begun in 2012.

What type of writing do you normally do?
I specialize in "cozy" mysteries, along the lines of Agatha Christie. They combine character development, humor, romance, local color and mystery. It's the kind of book I like to read. I started writing because I had read everything Agatha Christie had written. I try to write what I'd like to read. My Miss Prentice series is about a high school English teacher and the titles reflect that: Irregardless of Murder, Death Dangles a Participle and Murder in the Past Tense.

Give us a brief synopsis of your latest book.
Murder in the Past Tense, the third in the Miss Prentice series, was released last fall. Here's a description:
"It's summer, and Amelia is a lady in waiting. When she happens on a familiar face in a tabloid newspaper, she and Gil reminisce about another summer, long ago when they were teens, working in a summer stock company. There was drama that summer, along with romance and danger. Though much has changed over the years, the danger still lurks. Who killed Danny? Did they also kill Janey? What does it all have to do with an Adirondack hermit? And will Amelia uncover the killer's identity before she finds herself playing a death scene?"

What prompted you to write this book?
Some years ago, while I was waiting for my daughter to finish her piano lesson, I was bored, so I began reading a National Enquirer that the teacher had in her living room. It had an article about an actor who had been murdered and I realized that I knew him and had worked with him in summer stock theater when I was a teenager. I decided to solve the mystery, if only in my imagination.  This is almost exactly what happens to my character, Amelia.
How long did it take you to write this book?
These days, each book in the series takes approximately one year to complete.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?
To tell the truth, it's not so much a single line as several. In the story, the stock company puts on a musical comedy.  Rather than risk copyright issues, I made up my own musical comedy based on a short story by O. Henry, "The Last Leaf," that is in public domain. I also made up all the lyrics to the songs. I'm rather proud of that accomplishment.

I would say so!  Is the book published and, if so, when and by whom?
It was published by Sheaf House Publishers in the fall of 2014. I use my pen name, E.E. Kennedy to differentiate myself from a rather well-known book editor in New York.

How can my readers get a copy of Murder in the Past Tense?
It's available from, Amazon and Barnes & Noble in either paperback or e-book.

What’s next for you?
Currently, I'm editing book #4 in the series which will be released in the spring next year, Incomplete Sentence, about a vicious killer who eludes punishment. And I'm working on the plot of a new book, to be #5. I'm struggling with an English-teacher related title. It's about a poem and a toy and a patent. I can't wait to see what happens in it!

Do you have any advice for would-be writers?
Don't just think about it. Get started and write. Take courses. Read, read and read some more. Read in your favorite genre and read the classics. Learn to use words correctly. (Now I'm starting to sound like my character, Amelia, the English teacher!)

What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?
I wish I had had the confidence to start earlier. I wish I knew how hard it is to be published and how hard it is to promote your work. But I love writing and concocting wacky and tricky plots and funny dialogue and I plan to keep on keepin' on as long as possible!

Thank you, Ellen. I encourage my readers to get Murder in the Past Tense for some enjoyable summer reading.

Quote of the Day: There will be a time to murder and create.  Thomas Stearns Eliot.



1 comment:

Nancy K. Sullivan said...

I've read all three of Ellen's mysteries and am anxiously awaiting #4. Love the characters, the location and the page turning twists. Great interview :)