An Interview with Eleanor Sullivan: Author
Sylvia: Welcome Eleanor. Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book
Eleanor: Thank you Sylvia. After winning awards for my books for nurses, I turned my attention to writing mystery fiction. Ten years and many critiques later, the first Monika Everhardt mystery found a publisher and two more books followed. Now I’ve begun a series of historical mysteries set in the 1830s Northern Ohio village of Zoar, the religious settlement of my ancestors. Cover Her Body, A Singular Village Mystery, is the first book in the series that feature a midwife, her cabinet-maker husband, and my real-life distant grandfather.
In my former life, I was dean of a university school of nursing, past president of the world’s largest nursing organization, editor of a prestigious professional journal, and author of more than a dozen books in nursing. I earned nursing degrees from St. Louis Community College, St. Louis University, and Southern Illinois University and hold a PhD from St. Louis University.
Sylvia: Sounds great! What inspired you to write your first book?
Eleanor: Frustrated about how nurses are portrayed in the media (simpering idiots or worse!) and after winning awards for my books for nurses, I decided to create mystery fiction to feature a nurse sleuth and show nurses’ work as it really is. After three books published in the Monika Everhardt series, I turned my attention to my ancestors to tell their stories.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Eleanor: Be willing to take and use criticism. Many unpublished writers I’ve met are super protective of their words while the published writers know an editor or critique group members can make their writing even better.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Eleanor: I set up a few bookstore signings where I knew some people would attend and visited the Ohio village where the story is set—that was hugely successful with an afternoon event and evening dinner. I’m writing a blog revealing what I’ve learned about life in 19th century America but I’ve had only a few comments. I notified everyone on my contact list when the book released in print, then again when it came out in eBook format and had a rush of sales after each email. I’ve done lots of guest blog posts and radio interviews but I haven’t tracked sales after those because they’ve been too frequent to know. I’m redoing my Facebook author page now. I think it takes a collection of activities that ultimately make a difference.
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Eleanor: If you love traditional mysteries, especially historical ones, you might love Cover Her Body, A Singular Village Mystery. If you like medical mysteries, you might like the Monika Everhardt mysteries. In either case, I hope you enjoy any of them.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Eleanor: I write in my office where I have everything I need—computer, notepads (lots of notepads in all different sizes), reference books, a large counter to spread out, and an overflow table. But I ponder ideas in a chair in my bedroom where I go with morning coffee, especially if I’m trying to figure out a particularly troubling problem, such as, how does Adelaide discover that one suspect has lied to her? Ummm.
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Eleanor: I’m revising the manuscript for Graven Images, the second book in the Singular Village Mystery series. In this story, in a strict, religious society in 1830s rural Ohio, an itinerant artist is found hanging in a barn, and Adelaide must find the killer to save an Irish traveler before he’s hanged for the murder.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Eleanor: PERSISTENCE is my power word. Whenever I’ve thought I might give up, that things weren’t working out as I’d planned, I remind myself that persistence netted me publishers, readers, and fans. Then I get back to work!
Sylvia: I like that! Why did you write about your ancestors? What made them and their lives so special that you wanted to capture them in mysteries?
Eleanor: Almost 200 years ago my ancestors escaped brutal persecution in their native Germany because they refused to follow the state religion. With the help of the Quakers, they made their way to America and then to northern Ohio where they carved a village out of the wilderness, cleared the land, planted fields and, in one very fortuitous stroke of luck, built the Ohio Canal through their land. How lucky? Prior to building the canal, the inhabitants adopted celibacy to keep the women free of childbearing. After money from the canal paid their mortgage, the villagers again allowed marriage. Without that provision, no Eleanor, no stories!
So you can see why I’m passionate about telling their stories in my Singular Village Mysteries!
Sylvia: Eleanor, this has been great! Where can my readers learn more about you?
Eleanor: Thank you again for your interest, Sylvia. My contact is below.