Today I am excited to welcome author Mary Ellis as she talks about her latest writing adventures.
Those readers familiar with my writing know I do a lot of research before, during and after the book is finished. The first visit to an intriguing area is to envision the basic storyline and flesh out the central characters. I accomplish this by asking tons of questions of everyone I meet connected to a certain vocation, B&B or sect of people. The second and third visits are during the writing to pull together subplots or flesh out secondary characters to move along the plot. The final visit is to answer the plethora of questions that arise while inventing my fiction. For One for the Road, book one of the Bourbon Tour Mysteries, the setting I chose was Kentucky, the beautiful bluegrass state. Although not a bourbon drinker myself, I learned from several friends that bourbon tours have grown very popular. Hordes of tourists arrive weekly to tour the distilleries. Some even offer overnight stays along with paring dinners. There’s even a train you can take with bourbon tasting as its central theme. Sounded to me like a fun getaway weekend with friends! And a distillery sounded like a great place for a murder…speaking as a mystery writer, of course.
I planned two trips to Kentucky to research and photograph the small (craft) distilleries and interview the master distillers. Then I made plans for an extended visit to the Louisville area to tour eight major production plants. My friends and I planned to take tours, ride the train, go to paring dinners and of course, sample bourbon. Reservations had been made and tickets purchased, then the pandemic hit and everything was cancelled. No more tours. Luckily, most of my book, One for the Road, takes place in a small craft distillery so I was okay during the writing. But things better open up before I put the finishing touches on One Hundred Proof Murder, book two of the series, or this writer will be creating a lot more fiction than usual.
About the Book
Staying at an estranged relative’s B&B, a travel writer’s plan to uncover what makes the state’s bourbon tours so popular goes awry when she discovers a body at one distillery and quickly becomes a murder suspect.
About the Author
Mary Ellis is a former schoolteacher turned USA Today bestselling author who’s written twenty-five novels including Amish fiction, historical romance, and suspense. Her first mystery, Midnight on the Mississippi, was a finalist for the RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award and a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. Her latest book is One for the Road from Severn House. She enjoys gardening and bicycling and lives in Ohio with her husband and dog.
Links: website: www.maryellis.net
PAGE ONE of “One for the Road”
There it is!’ Jill exclaimed as they passed a bright blue road sign. ‘“Welcome to Kentucky – the Blue Grass State”. I’m so excited I could spit.’
Michael Erikson, her videographer sidekick, took his eyes off the road long enough to scowl. ‘Don’t you dare! I just had this car washed and detailed. What’s so exciting about the countryside of Kentucky? We’re talkin’ grandma rocking on every porch and pickup trucks driving like an Indy race.’ ‘Sounds like e perfect spot for a travel piece.’ Jill rubbed her stomach with a circular motion. ‘I can almost taste the flapjacks, corn pone and deep-fried everything now.’
‘You don’t even know what corn pone is.’ Michael slugged his cold coffee with a grimace.
‘No, but I aim to find out. This could be my big chance to advance beyond travel features and blogging to the news service. We have ten expense-paid days to discover why thousands of tourists flock to bourbon country every year.’
‘You don’t even like whiskey. You drink grocery store wine out of a cardboard box.’ Michael held his gut while he laughed.
‘This will be bourbon, not whiskey.’ Jill pulled down the vanity mirror to check her teeth for remnants of lunch.
He shook his head. ‘Bourbon is a type of whiskey. If we’re doing this, partner, start doing your homework.’
‘I intend to, tonight. I would’ve already if the boss hadn’t handed us this at the last minute. Besides, my wine comes in bottles with real corks.’ Jill lifted her chin with indignation.
‘Yeah, right. I stopped at your apartment last Christmas, remember?’
‘Of course I do. What woman could forget a pair of lime-green, six-toed socks?’
‘What can I say – they were on sale. We’re on the outskirts of Louisville. Better program the GPS with the hotel’s address.’
We’re not staying at some boring chain hotel.’ Jill produced a cat-in-the-cream grin.
‘I get the feeling I’m not going to like this.’ Michael rubbed the back of his neck.
‘Why on earth would we stay in Louisville when the charming town of Roseville is close to two distilleries? If you recall, bourbon distilleries are why we’re here.’
‘This motel in Roseville . . . is it one of those turquoise mom-and-pop’s with a soda machine permanently out of order?’
‘Absolutely not. We’re staying at Sweet Dreams Bed and Breakfast. The online pictures looked gorgeous, truly elegant and historical.’
‘In other words flowery wallpaper, lace doilies, and threadbare rugs.’
‘Have you ever even been to a B and B?’
‘Yup, remember my ex-fiancée, Cindy? She took me to one in the Alleghany Mountains. Each night I expected Jack Nicholson to axe his way through the door. I didn’t sleep a wink.’
‘If anyone was going to take an axe to your head, it would have been Cindy.’ As usual, her insult had zero effect on him. Jill shook her head. ‘This place serves a gourmet breakfast each morning, plus either tea with scones or cocktails and canapés in the evening. Sweet Dreams is not only in the heart of bourbon country, but the proprietor might be a long-lost relative of mine, which for now we’ll keep quiet about. And her husband owns a craft distillery outside of town.’ She braced herself for Michael’s next parlay – which never came.
‘Now that might come in handy,’ he said. ‘Having a bourbon master at our disposal could produce some great footage. Plus I can start my Christmas shopping.’
Jill chuckled at his unexpected reaction. Like her, Michael had been born and raised in Chicago’s suburbs. ‘We’re not going to become nuisances, are we?’ she asked. ‘The boss wants a positive spin on this travel story.’
‘I won’t become a nuisance, but you’d better not drink any hundred-proof bourbon or you’ll start singing “A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall”.’
‘I don’t even know the words. Can you get us a cash advance from accounting? Most likely not everyone takes American Express along the backroads.’