Fashionably Suspenseful…Q&A with Ellen Byerrum! - Dark Streets @EllenByerrum
Ellen Byerrum has always been drawn to the profession of writing, as a reporter, a playwright, a media professional, and a mystery writer. She earned her journalism degree at a major public university, which has since scuttled its once-prestigious School of Journalism and folded the mighty journalism program into a mere “Department of Communications.” (Journalists everywhere were saddened.) Luckily, she'd built a successful career as a working journalist before her degree in this rapidly changing profession could be used against her.
Ellen has worked at a number of reporting jobs, beginning her career at small newspapers in small towns in the West--including one particular town she has fictionalized as “Sagebrush, Colorado.” Later she found her way into the Big Leagues of journalism: Washington, D.C., a city rich in history, culture, political drama, and crimes of fashion. Our Nation’s Capital is a fertile source of inspiration for her Crime of Fashion Mystery series.
In researching her mystery novels, she's earned her private investigator’s registration in Virginia, interviewed innumerable fascinating sources, and toured such varied scenes as a velvet factory in its last days, abandoned cowboy campsites in backwoods Colorado, and the immense costume collections behind the scenes at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. She also researches and collects vintage clothing, like Lacey Smithsonian, the heroine of her Crime of Fashion Mysteries. However, she notes ruefully, the fictional Lacey seems to have more clothes and a larger closet. (And of course Lacey has her Aunt Mimi's magical bottomless trunk, filled with fabulous vintage clothes, fabrics, patterns and fashion memorabilia.)
We caught up with Ellen for a brief one on one!
NOR: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
E:I am a mystery writer, a produced and published playwright, and former Washington, D.C., news reporter. My Crime of Fashion mysteries star savvy sleuth Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington D.C., “The City Fashion Forgot.” Her most recent book, VEILED REVENGE was published this coming February.
NOR: You have a Private Investigator license. How did that come about and how helpful has it been with your writing?
E: Very helpful. During a period after I was laid off from a dreadful job, I took a PI course. I’d always thought it sounded fun. It was fun and informative, and I was inspired to write a couple of one-act plays available from Samuel French, Inc., as Gumshoe Rendezvous. It also inspired book six in the Crime of Fashion Series, Armed and Glamorous.
NOR: How did the Crimes of Fashion character, Lacey Smithsonian, come about (cool name, btw!) and what is her “Extra-Fashionary Perception?”
E: Lacey came about after I’d been reading a ton of mysteries. They all featured strong female characters but everyone had a fear of dressing, as if it were some secret of universe. I wanted to see a character who could solve crimes, be tough and witty, and also dress herself. In fact I turned that into her strength, ExtraFashionary Perception is her ability to decode characters through their clothes.
NOR: You’ve got playwright on your resume – what plays have you written? Would you like to see one on Broadway eventually?
E: I write plays under my pen name, Eliot Byerrum. A Christmas Cactus and Gumshoe
Rendezvous are published by Samuel French, Inc. I also have about a dozen plays that have been produced, including Interviewing Techniques for the Self-Conscious. Of course every playwright dreams of Broadway, but it’s a combo of right place, right time, and knowing the right people. And having the right play.
NOR: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
E: How about coffee? I also am picky about my pens, and yes I write part of my manuscripts by hand. I find it is a completely different mind-paper connection. I used to take long walks by the Potomac River, they seemed to unlock ideas. Now, however, with no river, I have to escape to a coffee shop or library to write.
NOR: If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?
E: Actually, two of my books have been made into films on Lifetime Movie Network, Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover, starring Maggie Lawson and Victor Webster. I’d like to see Grave Apparel made into a movie, but I’d like to write the screenplay. It is a Christmas movie and I am particular about how Christmas is portrayed in the media.
NOR: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
E: A great story and the desire to read all of the books in my series!
You are definitely missing out if you don’t try Ellen’s Crime of Fashion mystery series! Pick up one today! (My favorite is Armed and Glamorous!)
THE CRIME OF FASHION SERIES
Toni LoTempio – By Toni LoTempio – admin by day, writer by night, Toni is the author of several paperback and e-books of paranormal suspense – her latest, SOAPSUDS, SEX AND SILVER BULLETS, will be released from Entangled Publishing July 2014. As T. C. Lotempio, she pens cozy mysteries, debuting with the upcoming Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkeley Prime Crime. (MEOW IF IT’S MURDER, Fall 2014). She and her cat ROCCO do fundraising for Nathan Fillion’s charity, KIDS NEED TO READ, when they aren’t interviewing authors on ROCCO’s blog! You can keep up with all the latest interviews and news (including her 2014 releases!) at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com