FEATURED AUTHOR: ELLEN SELTZ
ABOUT THE BOOK:The only way out is a long way down.
Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiancé is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.
Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.
Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and . . . something more.
Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley's powers of deduction – and Baker's loyalty – to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out?
The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930's traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple's pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion's rollicking adventures, you'll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery adventure.
Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall
2nd in Series
Incorrigible Publishing (October 27, 2017)
Print Length: 214 pages
INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN SELTZ
Ellen, what's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Bellringers and Easter eggs.
As a story or character develops, sometimes you suddenly realize that a detail, action, or comment connects back to something earlier in the story – or in another book – and “rings the bell” on a theme or relationship that otherwise would not be apparent.
Easter eggs are small allusions and “in-jokes” for readers who love classic mysteries as much as I do. The art of a good Easter egg is to make it subtle enough that it won’t distract or confuse anyone who doesn’t get it, but will tickle anyone who does. You see these in TV or movies sometimes, where a character’s name or a prop in the background makes a pop-culture reference. Nobody refers to it directly, it’s just there. I often play games like this.
The moment when one of these comes together just fills me with glee, and I usually have to interrupt whatever my husband is doing and gloat about it.
He’s very patient with me.
What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
Getting it done, keeping at it. It’s so much fun playing around with ideas, and as long as they remain abstract anything could happen. There are infinite possibilities, and you can see them all at once in their splendor.
But rendering those ideas into actual prose that another human can read requires singularity. People read sequentially, so you have to make one real word, one real sentence, one plot, one point of view happen at a time. It’s existentially painful, so you avoid and resist and procrastinate.
The discipline of it is a constant challenge.
What is your writing style?
I love wordplay! Some of my favorite characters are Albert Campion, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Bertie Wooster – insouciant witty chatterboxes. That’s the style I indulge in with the Mister Mottley tales.
At the same time, I write in several different styles. I’ve done some contemporary pieces on the Web, and I ghostwrite nonfiction and marketing copy. For those, I have to boil things down and be concise, so I try to pack as much meaning into each word as possible.
Do you have any secret talents?
I discovered quite by accident that I’m frighteningly accurate with throwing knives. And you know, that story is better when I don’t explain it, so I won’t.
If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Hm. Does Netflix count? If not, then probably BBC America or PBS.
How often do you tweet?
I go through spurts. I’ll be on there quite a lot for a while, and then forget about it for weeks at a time. I mostly use Twitter to connect with other authors and artists, and to follow a few celebrities who are charming.
Stephen Fry is a delight to follow. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling always say something worth hearing. And I’ve “met” David Suchet through an artist who blogs about the visual design and imagery of the Poirot television series. Mr. Suchet is a very gracious gentleman.
How do you feel about Facebook?
I’m a terrible Facebook addict and spend far too much time on it. I keep personal opinions on my personal timeline rather than my author page, and it’s a good thing. I occasionally get my dander up and get into a comment argument that it would probably be better not to.
What do you love about where you live?
Alabama is a beautiful state full of kind, generous, loving people. I grew up here and moved away for about 25 years, then returned with my own children. I like living near Birmingham because you get the best of all worlds. It’s become quite cosmopolitan since I left, but you also have gorgeous country in easy reach.
We live in a 1950’s style suburban neighborhood where my children can walk to school and bike to friends’ houses. We also have hummingbirds, owls, raccoons, crayfish and mink right in the back yard. And the ballet and symphony are just 20 minutes away. You can’t beat it.
Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
All of them! Mottley has my ADHD, though he’s a bit worse than I am. Baker is vain and self-seeking, and compelled to prove he’s the absolute best at whatever he’s doing. It usually lands him in a ridiculous position, which is true in my life always.
Other characters in the series are motivated by jealousy, resentment, avarice, ruthlessness, pride, lust, the need for approval, and others – all mine. I don’t think you can write believably about people unless you’re willing to look at your faults and understand them.
What is the most daring thing you've done?
Inwardly terrifying? To hit “send” on my first book, with my actual name on it. Horrors!
Outwardly adventuresome? Probably the summer I spent studying drama at the Royal Academy in London, and then solo-ing around England, Scotland, and France until my money ran out. It was a wonderful experience, and I’d love to do something like it again. But now I have a family, I’d want them with me. It wouldn’t be fun without them.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
PG Wodehouse: “There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.”
Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The Hoover Public Library is my local, and they are fantastic. The children’s programs are unbelievably creative and fun. For example, they turned the whole place into an interactive Hogwarts with games and skits for Harry Potter’s birthday. They closed early and the whole staff dressed up – it was unbelievable.
The reference librarians get really excited about helping you look up something obscure. I never would have solved an important plot twist in Dying Fall without them.
There’s a section where you can check out tabletop games to play at home. And the whole staff has an enormous sense of fun. They put up a “departure lounge” sign once, showing scheduled flights to Middle Earth, Westeros, Tatooine, Pern – and all the flight numbers were Easter eggs from the stories. Marvelous.
What are you working on now?
I always have several projects going at once. The next Mottley stories are a Christmas collection and Book Three. The collection is called Happy Bloody Christmas, and it should be out by the time this tour is live. It features the two Christmas short stories I have out now, plus a new release titled “Mister Mottley Pulls a Cracker.” It’s a fun little set that fleshes out different parts of Mottley’s backstory, and each mystery revolves around a different Christmas tradition.
Book Three is also in the works, with the working title Mister Mottley and the Plushbottom Conundrum. It features a crime that’s upside-down and backwards. So right up Mottley’s street, you know?
Thanks so much for hosting me, Amy! I come through Louisville a couple of times a year, so maybe we can grab a coffee and talk shop next time I’m up that way.
I'd love to!
ABOUT THE AUTHOREllen Seltz has worked in the entertainment industry for nearly twenty years, from Miami to New York and points in between. Her primary roles were actress and producer, but she also served as a comedy sketch writer, librettist, voice artist, propmaster, costumer, production assistant, camera operator and general dogsbody. She turned to fiction writing in the vain hope that the performers would do as they were told.
Ellen is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, where she lives with her two daughters and her husband. She enjoys vegetable gardening and vintage-style sewing.
Connect with Ellen:
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