Interview with mystery author Jessica Ellicott

Mystery
author Jessica Ellicott joins me
today to chat about her new historical novel, Murder Flies the Coop.
Bio:
Jessica
Ellicott is the author of the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries. She loves fountain
pens, Mini Coopers and throwing parties. She lives in New England where she
obsessively knits wool socks and enthusiastically speaks Portuguese with a
shocking disregard for the rules of grammar. As Jessie Crockett she is the
author of the Granite State Mysteries and the Sugar Grove Mysteries. She wrote
the Change of Fortune Mysteries as Jessica Estevao.
Welcome, Jessica. Please tell us about your current
release.
One would
hardly call them birds of a feather, but thrill-seeking American adventuress
Beryl Helliwell and quietly reserved Brit Edwina Davenport do one thing very
well together—solve murders . . . Sharing lodging in the sleepy English village
of Walmsley Parva has eased some of the financial strain on the two old school
chums, but money is still tight in these lean years following the Great War.
All of Beryl’s ex-husbands have proven reluctant to part with her alimony,
which is most inconvenient. So when the local vicar—and pigeon-racing club
president—approaches them with a private inquiry opportunity, the ladies
eagerly accept. There’s been a spot of bother: the treasurer has absconded with
the club’s funds and several prized birds. Beryl and Edwina hope to flush out
the missing man by checking his boardinghouse and place of employment at the
coal mine. But when they visit the man’s loft, they find their elusive quarry
lying in white feathers and a pool of crimson blood, stabbed to death—the only
witnesses cooing mournfully. After a stiff gin fizz, the ladies resume their
search for the missing funds and prized birds—and now a murderer. Beryl and
Edwina aren’t shy about ruffling a few feathers as they home in on their
suspects. But they had better find the killer fast, before their sleuthing
career is cut short . . .
What inspired you to write this book?
I start
each of my historical mysteries by researching current events of the day. I
happened upon an article concerning pigeon racing and the idea for this story
began to take shape. The social and economic factors of the sport provided a
lot of inspiration for a mystery. One of the best parts of the job is
unearthing fascinating nuggets of information and finding ways to stitch them together
into a novel.
Excerpt from Murder Flies the Coop:
Beryl
Helliwell watched as her friend Edwina Davenport capped her fountain pen and
laid it on the desk in front of her. The morning post had yielded several
pointed and chiding reminders from local merchants of accounts past due as well
as a vexing dearth of alimony checks. Clearly the results of Edwina’s
calculations could not be considered good news.
“It’s all
here in black and white on the ledger page. Or perhaps it would be more
accurate to say in red and white.”
“Come on
now, Ed, it can’t be as bad as all that, can it?” Beryl asked. “After all, we
were tediously careful with the funds all winter long.”
“One can
never be careful enough to make not enough go as far as one needs,” Edwina
said.
“Just
last Sunday your dreary vicar was nattering on about some story or other from
the Good Book about miracles and unending supplies of bread and fish or some
such a thing. Can’t you make the same thing work with the bookkeeping?” Beryl
asked. Beryl noticed her friend looked shocked at the suggestion.
But then,
Edwina was easily shocked.
“The
vicar is not the most prepossessing of men but I would hardly call him dreary.
And the parable of the loaves and the fishes is not meant as a lesson in
resource husbandry. It certainly isn’t meant to encourage the congregation to
tread all over the toes of the Almighty by assuming one can just as easily
perform such miracles.” Edwina shook her head at Beryl and delivered a severe
look. “The only thing close to a miracle I’ve managed lately by way of
stretching the comestibles is to water down your gin.”
“I had
wondered about my increased capacity for alcohol recently,” Beryl said. “Rather
a shortsighted approach, you know. I’ve only gone and consumed twice as much of
it.”
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am
currently developing the plotline for the fourth book in the Beryl and Edwina
series.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think
it was in the second grade when my class was given an assignment to write a
story prompted by an advertisement featuring the Marlboro Man. I made him a
bandit and have thought of myself as someone who writes crime stories ever
since.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work
day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
write?
I do
write full-time. Generally, I devote mornings to writing or revising and
afternoons to the business side of the job like blog posts, answering emails
and setting up events. I try not to eat lunch at my desk but most days fail
miserably! I finish up by early afternoon and spend evenings with my family and
friends.
What would you say is your interesting writing
quirk?
I think
it might be that I start all books by writing and then answering questions in a
notebook. I prefer using A5 Rhodia notebooks and a favorite fountain pen. There
is something about writing slowly by hand that feels to me like all things are
possible, at least in the fictional world.
As a child, what did you want to be when you
grew up?

The only
thing I ever really wanted to be was a writer. I feel like one of the luckiest
people I know!
Anything additional you want to share with the
readers?

I love to
connect with readers through my group blog The Wickeds and also via my
newsletter.
Links:
Thanks for being here today!

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