About Ellen Behrens:
Like Walt and Betty Rollin, the main characters in my Rollin RV Mystery series, my husband and I are full-time RVers. Fortunately, Walt and Betty are the ones who discover dead bodies and generally live much more stressful lives on the road than we do! I've been writing and publishing for many years (another novel, a short story collection, and three nonfiction books), was awarded a state fellowship in writing, and completed an MFA in Creative Writing, but nothing has inspired me more than being on the road where ideas come at me faster than bugs on a windshield!
What inspires you to write?
Curiosity. I wonder about things. When I see something I can't help thinking, "What if…?" and that's all it takes. We were visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina, birdwatching at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge — just as my characters are doing in the first chapter of "Pea Body" — and as I looked out from the observation tower, I suddenly wondered what we would do if we glimpsed something other than a bird… what if… what if it was a body? My next two Rollin RV Mysteries came about in similar ways… something in real life spawned the idea for what happens in the novel. I write to find out what happens next.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
I read widely. I love Toni Morrison (a fellow Ohioan) and just finished what I think is one of the best written novels I've ever read, "Mink River" by Brian Doyle (if you love language and how words flow, it's for you; if you need a plot, it's not). For fun I read Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen, and I read a lot of mysteries in general. They help me see what's working and what doesn't, and it improves my own writing (I wrote a book about that, too, BTW).
Tell us about your writing process.
I'm a outlining pantser 🙂 I start with a general idea of who's who and key ideas, but often things shift as I write. When I get stuck I do some lousy cartooning in a mind-map process. I like this way of getting un-stuck because I'm focused on something visual, rather than words (the words were what got me stuck in the first place, right?). Writing it tricky in an RV: I use very little paper because it takes up so much space, so other than my mind-maps (of which I have maybe five from three books), I do everything on my laptop. My office is a strip of our small dinette table — about 12 inches by 40 inches. Small, but I've got an ever-changing view out the window!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Sometimes. Mostly I talk to myself, which really confuses my husband! I generally stay alert to what Walt and Betty are doing, and listen to them talk to each other so I know what they're planning to do next.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read, read, read. Write. Then edit, edit, edit. Too many books are published before they're ready. You need to know what your readers are expecting from your book (your genre's conventions) and you need to deliver a final book to them — especially if you're charging them money. You wouldn't want to buy a product that's broken, would you?
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first novel was traditionally published, back in the day. I learned a lot about the publishing process and industry from that experience. When it came time for to publish my novels I decided to self-publish, mostly because being on the road with intermittent wifi access meant I'd be a lousy client to any agent or publishing house.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
There's so much being published these days — a lot of golden nuggets in this huge mine. Traditional publishers are still the primary way the best books are floating to the top. Something that could make those nuggets glow brighter than the dross around them would help readers and writers, because it would push us all to do our very best.
What genres do you write?: mystery
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.