Mary Ellis joins us to share about her latest release. Welcome, Mary. Please tell us about The Last Heiress: She crossed the sea to save a legacy…finding love wasn’t part of her plan. Amanda Dunn set sail from England for Wilmington, North Carolina, hoping to restore shipments of cotton for her family’s textile mills, which have been disrupted by the American Civil War. But when she meets Nathaniel Cooper, her desire to conduct business and return to England changes. Amanda’s family deems the hardworking merchant unsuitable for the accomplished heiress. And when Nate himself begins to draw away, Amanda has her own battle on her hands. As the Union navy tightens its noose around Southern ports, Nate’s long lost brother, a Confederate officer, arrives in Wilmington with his regiment. Nate contemplates joining the Glorious Cause—not in support of slavery but to watch his brother’s back. Yet will his dangerous decision put his future with Amanda in jeopardy?
Did you do any special research for this book? Yes, for the scenes which take place in Wilmington, I visited that lovely city on four occasions to get the details right. It’s one of my favorite spots in the US so it truly wasn’t a sacrifice! For the Manchester, England details, I have a good friend who’s British and grew up in this area. Her great grandfather owned a coal mine which supplied the cotton mills in the nineteenth century, so I consulted with her many times. One of the events depicted in the story actually happened in his Manchester coal mine. I also visited England once can’t wait to go back!
How fun! It sounds like you had a great time researching. J
Do you write in more than one genre? Yes, I need to occasionally change genres to keep my story-telling fresh. But I always like sweet love stories about strong women who use their faith to carry them through life’s difficult situations. This book is historical romance, and it follows The Quaker and the Rebel and The Lady and the Officer, three stand-alones set during the Civil War. I also have written a dozen Amish romances, and I’m currently writing a romantic suspense series set in the South, entitled Secrets of the South.
When you aren’t writing, what do you do for fun? Oh, my, that question confused me for a moment. But I guess I do have “fun,” although I find crafting inspiration stories very entertaining. When I’m not writing, I love working in my yard, taking my dog for long walks, and swimming. Whether in a pool, a lake, the ocean, or plopping down in a fast moving stream, I enjoy getting wet.
How often do you write? Do you set writing goals? I write full time Monday through Friday but take weekends off. I sit down at my computer at 8:00 am and try to quit by 4:00 pm. However when I’m under deadline I’m usually in my office until 6:00. Of course, it’s not all “writing.” At least 35% of my time is eaten up by email and social media. Since I’ve scaled back to two 100,000 word books per year, as long as I write 5000 words per week, I’m happy!
What is next for you? I am currently putting the final touches on Midnight on the Mississippi, my first romantic suspense set in New Orleans. And I’m researching the next in the mystery series which will be set in Memphis, TN. I went to Memphis in September to research and will return in March. Although I was born and raised in Ohio, my husband and I spend a lot of time in LA, MS, AL and GA. I love places where you never have to shovel snow in the winter.