Interview with Sue Eller

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Absolutely. I was in third grade and it was a class assignment. My main character and her best girlfriend discovered an abandoned farmhouse. There was a bed in the house and they decided to jump on it, since they weren't allowed to jump on their beds at home. When they did, the mattress tore open and a bunch of money fell out. That's all I remember of the story, except that I misspelled the word "mattress" the same way every time I used it in the story. My teacher circled each instance in red. I have loved to read and write mysteries and adventures ever since.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on a farm outside a small town in eastern Washington state. Mom always had lots of books for us to read, and we visited the library on a regular basis. I didn't know it at the time, but I was learning how to write by reading lots of different authors. We didn't have a telephone or computer or video games, and we only had three channels on the black-and-white television, so I used my imagination and made up characters and adventures. Sometimes my brothers and sisters and I acted them out and sometimes I wrote them down. It became a habit that stayed with me all my life.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Laziness, impatience, and a need for control. None of which are anywhere near as bad as the snob I used to be about self-published authors. I was too lazy to write query letters to myriad agents in search of one who would champion my book. I was too impatient to wait for the rejection letters and the months of negotiating contracts. And I didn't want someone else setting deadlines for me. I worked in the newspaper business long enough to develop a genuine hatred for deadlines. Besides, the publishing industry has changed drastically in the last few years, and is evolving at a rate approaching Warp 9.6. I have learned to keep up, and I love being an indie author.
What is your writing process?
I get an idea and I let it rattle around in my brain for a while. I try to think of all the weird, quirky things that could happen. I do a lot of "what if..." imagining. I write down ideas as they come into my brain. Sometimes I can't write fast enough, so I do sentence fragments. I open a file in Word and just type notes as fast as I can. If ideas come to me and I'm not at my computer, I grab my phone and send myself a text or email. The latest phone I own has an app called "notepad," which I use a lot. I also have a notepad and pen on my nightstand in case I wake up in the middle of the night with a killer inspiration. All of the ideas eventually get transferred to the computer file I created.
Describe your desk
Because I use a laptop, my desk is sometimes the kitchen table, sometimes a booth in a restaurant, sometimes a picnic table looking out at the lake shore, and sometimes an actual traditional desk in my office. Wherever it happens to be, if I'm working it will most likely look cluttered and disorganized. This is an illusion. I know where to find every scrap of paper where I wrote down an idea, every news article I researched, and every page of feedback from my critique group. My office is nearly always cluttered with books, stacks of paper, and other inspirational detritus. When I finish a project, I clean and organize in preparation for the next mess.
What's the story behind Meadowlark Madness, your first Emily Trace mystery?
I had heard the meadowlark song many times growing up, but I never saw an actual bird. As an adult, I was driving back to visit my childhood small town when once again I heard the song of the elusive meadowlark. I thought, 'What if there really was no such thing as a meadowlark? And what if when we drive past a certain spot in the road it triggers a sensor and the song plays? It could be like an alarm system that no one would think was an alarm because it sounds like a bird.' Such random thoughts pop into my brain at unpredictable times, and are the seeds of some of my best stories. Now you'll just have to read the book to find out if it's a real bird or a sophisticated alarm system.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The joy comes from seeing the effect my books have on those who read them. An 80-year-old woman who isn't a science fiction fan begs me to hurry and finish the next book in the series because she wants to read it before she dies. Our mailman starts calling me "Emily" (my series protagonist) and tells me how far he has read in the book. Another friend called me in tears because she realized a close family member suffers from Aspberger's. She read about a character in my book who has Aspberger's and made the connection based on the way the character related to the others in the book. Who knows how your writing will influence another life? It is a joy, and also a huge responsibility.
What are you working on next?
The Emily Trace Mystery series will continue, at least for a while. The next episode, "Taming of the T-Bird." is already out in paperback, and is now available at Smashwords. Right now I'm working on the third book, which I have dubbed, "Send in the Drones." It's a long way from being completed, but I'll announce on my Smashwords page, my website, and social media when it's completed. I have lots of ideas. Like the old-time photographers, we'll just have to see what develops.
Who are your favorite authors?
Some of my very favorites are William Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.R.R. Tolkein, Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, and John Grisham. I like some of Stephen King's work, but not all of it. I like Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series and Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time." I am also inspired by some of our fine local authors in eastern Washington and northern Idaho; and my friend Lee Kessler and her White King trilogy.
Published 2015-07-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Wayne's New Television
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 7,410. Language: English. Published: January 21, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Take a trip through the last half of the 20th century with Wayne Miller and his amazing new television. From the Dodgers-Yankees World Series match-up in 1955 to Armstrong's giant leap for mankind, Wayne and his television witness the unfolding of the future in a most unlikely way.
The Gluten Free Gourmand
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 14,730. Language: English. Published: January 24, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Health & healing / gluten-free
This little cookbook is a collection of gluten-free recipes that are simple, tasty, and easy on the budget.
Taming of the T-Bird - an Emily Trace Mystery
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,960. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Science fiction » General
A small town carpenter comes to detective Emily Trace with a car problem which she suspects is more than mechanical. In her quest to tame the errant T-Bird, Emily becomes embroiled in murder and arson, and encounters an alien megalomaniac and his minions who have designs to take over the planet. It’s up to Emily – with a lot of help from her friends – to thwart their evil schemes.
Meadowlark Madness - an Emily Trace Mystery
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 81,630. Language: English. Published: July 22, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Science fiction » General
The first adventure in the Emily Trace Mystery series, Meadowlark Madness takes the spunky female detective on an adventure in the sleepy farming communities of Eastern Washington, where she finds herself in the middle of an interstellar plot.