Author Chat with Ellen Byron
One of my favorite parts of starting A Cozy Experience has been getting to know some of the wonderful cozy mystery authors that I have met along the way. Ellen Byron is one of the greats. Not only are her Cajun Country Mystery books a hoot to read, but she’s just a great person to know.
The Cozy Experience Facebook Book Club read the first book in her series, Plantation Shudders, in July and Ellen was kind enough to stop by and chat with us about the book. Here are some of the highlights from her remarks.
Ellen, this is your debut cozy mystery series. What made you want to write cozy mystery books?
I discovered Agatha Christie when I was 14 and fell in love with her books. I think I’d read every one of them by the end of the summer. I adore Cajun Country and have written plays set there. So creating Pelican, Louisiana and a world around it just felt so natural.
Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for Maggie and the Cajun Country Mystery Series?
When I was in college, one of my best friends was a debutante. Her family has been in Louisiana for I don’t know how long. Like, 200 years. They had plantations. Some are around, some burned down. This fascinated me.
Also, in the late 90s, my husband and I did an overnight at Madewood Plantation. It was a little like And Then There Were None. No host, just guests, strangers who didn’t know each other. So the marriage of my best friend’s past, our overnight stay at a plantation turned B&B, and my passion for Cajun culture came together in this series. Doucet and Crozat Plantations were inspired by Houmas House and Madewood, but also Oak Alley, and ones less well-known. Although when I woke up and went to snack on a chocolate bar in my backpack, it was half-eaten. Mouse…. or ghost???
How do you come up with your storylines?
Some are inspired by real events, like the Christmas Eve bonfires. Others just come to me. And then I build a fluid outline on whatever notion occurs to me. It’s about conflict, suspense, atmosphere, and love.
Are the characters based on people you know?
Several are inspired by real people. My friend Gaynell is a seventy-something Cajun musician, artist, and writer. I met her when she was a tour guide at Ashland-Belle Helene. I gave her the choice of inspiring Grandmere or a nineteen year old, and she chose the nineteen year old!
What is on the horizon for Maggie and the Cajun Country Mystery Series?
A Cajun Christmas Killing launches on October 10, 2017. And here’s some news that the book club is first to know about: Body on the Bayou will be on Kindle sale for $1.99 from August 12th to September 11th. Also, Mardi Gras Murder will be out in 2018.