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Interview with Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis is a woman who loves a simple life, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her resume! She is a bestselling and award winning author of over a dozen books who makes her home in central Ohio.

In your latest novel, The Last Heiress, you've created a very interesting main character who is willing to sail across the ocean by herself. How much of yourself did you write into Amanda?
Amanda is very brave and independent, so that fits me to a tee. But she’s also very wealthy and comes from a fine aristocratic family. I was a foundling left on a doorstep. So during those times when I see myself as my character, I get to rewrite my humble beginnings.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
I always love my heroines! In the case of The Last Heiress, Amanda Dunn crosses the sea alone (something I’ve never done) and must change her fixed and rigid belief system. (something I’ve had to do often during my lifetime.) My heroines get to be everything I am not. For instance, Amanda has a twin sister who shares the story with her, and I have always wanted a sister.

Which was the hardest character to write? Why?
I believe the hardest character was Caleb Beachy in A Plain Man, one of my releases last year. Although I’ve interviewed plenty of Amish women to create my heroines, having a male main character presented a challenge. Amish men are often reluctant to talk to English (non-Amish) women.

What helps you the most when you're developing your characters?
Face-to-face interviews with people who’ve lived under similar circumstances in the same locale, and in the case of my historical romances, biographies of famous people of the same era. My heroines have been abolitionists, lady spies, Civil War nurses, British heiresses, and Southern belles. There are plenty of accurate bios available for all these women.

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
I must be fascinated with a genre or I can’t make my stories come alive. I wrote twelve romances set in Amish communities. When I could no longer come up with new story lines, I switched to historical romance. I’ve always been an avid reader of history, the Civil War in particular.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
If I’m forced to select only one, I pick my agent, Mary Sue Seymour. She loved my writing and believed in me. She submitted my work well over a year before she landed my first sale. I am grateful to her.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
The longer I stay in this business, the more time I seem to spend on non-writing, publicity type work. My actual writing gets squeezed into an ever shrinking window of opportunity. Thank goodness I write faster than when I started.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Since my faith and a strong spiritual background have always guided me, I don’t think I can create main characters that have no relationship with God.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
My historical characters often come from their real life counterparts. I love taking bits and pieces from a variety of figures to create characters who think surprisingly like me. I travel a great deal so my plot twists come from the places I visit.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I have a rather wry sense of humor and my characters, more often than not, share that trait. Even when we’re forced to deal with difficult situations, we should never take ourselves too seriously.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?
A casual acquaintance kept saying, “I have a friend who loves your books and is dying to meet you so you could sign them.” Finally I agreed to meet these two ladies for coffee. As it turned out, I didn’t write the book the friend brought for me to sign. It was a different Mary Ellis.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
Next on my list to read are No River too Wide by Emilie Richards and Between Us Girls by Sally John.

What literary character is most like you? Wow, that’s a tough question. David Copperfield comes to mind, but I think I’ll pick Cinderella. I just wish Prince Charming would hurry up and bring my other shoe back!

Finish this statement: The most difficult thing is life is....
...admitting I can no longer be as physically active as I’ve enjoyed thus far. My arthritis limits my activity.

Any parting words?
I love connecting with readers and authors alike. Please send me a friend request on Facebook or “like” my author page, http://

Thanks for sharing with us, Mary)!
Thanks for interviewing me! What great questions!

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