Eleanor S. Sullo
1.When did you begin writing? Why?
I began writing and illustrating my own stories as a child. (I thought it was my job when Mom and Dad bought me a little, used desk to fit my 7-yr.-old frame.) Throughout school I wrote short stories which met with approval from teachers, and knew then I wanted to write forever, if my stories made people happy, and they did. I didn’t start writing full time though until post menopausal days. Late bloomer, my sister says.
2.When and why did you begin writing mysteries?
I had written four romances and a memoir, and edited a cookbook before I realized mysteries were calling to me—about six years ago. Again it was a teacher’s inspiration, and the inspiration of a group of “older” women I’d met—the Red Hat Club—that got me going. These women were so smart and full of energy and creativity, I realized they could probably solve crimes. So I put six of them in my mysteries, and watched them shine.
3.Are you writing a series or a stand-alone? Explain your basic idea for your series.
Menopause Murders is the name of the six-book series, in which six friends, old and new, decide to get together to have fun and avoid the doldrums of older age but immediately are taken hostage and face dangers of every kind—before they solve the murder in their midst. Solving murders becomes a lifestyle for them, and each one stars in a different book, finds or restores romance in their lives, and is supported in outstanding ways by their cohorts—the Women on Fire.
4.Tell us about your journey to publication with this book.
I tried marketing the series with New York publishers, using the title, Red Hat Homicides, but found the RH organization held strict licensing fees and no NY publisher would touch my books because of that. I had to change the title and the specifics particularly of the group to be “legal”, and so I returned to the small press publisher who had done my first book ever, an historical mystery-romance, Wings ePress. They were happy to oblige and are publishing the entire series. It’s a small, POD press, but they’ve got all my work out there both in paperback and digital, with great editing, and good people at every level, so I’m happy with them.
5.Why did you choose to write about the topic, community, issues you chose?
The issues I’ve dealt with are things that really matter to me, and become themes for the mysteries I’m working on. Things like the benefits of community and women’s friendships in particular, respect for the aging, romance for older women, and May-December relationships, where the woman is older. In general, my Women on Fire heroines show they’re far from settling in the old rocking chair, are brave and bright, and continue to start new exciting projects rather than wrap up old dreary ones in their lives.
6.How have you found it to be published? Share that experience.
It’s very satisfying to be published, and I’ve found it really suits my personality to give talks, have book signings and do other PR work—not that I sell that many books, but each one is rewarding. I love the idea that I can work forever, God willing, at something I love. Though I love gardening, I’m starting to feel too many aches and pains for the more physical tasks, except for putting all those great fruits, meats and vegetables into pretty good fare. And I’m still the chief seed-starter in our extended gardening family, which I can do on my back porch in comfort.
7.Do you have comments from readers or reviewers you’d like to share?
I loved what this reviewer had to say at the conclusion of her review:
“This is a story full of love and laughter and hits a deep chord of truth as all the characters are easy to relate to. There is a depth of emotion without bogging the reader down. Overall, my favorite part of this story is the strong friendship elements, the affection (among the women) is almost palpable.”
(Venus, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More)
8.What other books have you published and where, when?
Moonrakers, 2002, Wings ePress
The Emerald Eye, 2002, Trebleheart Books
A Year in Poughkeepsie, 2003, Trebleheart Books
Seasons of Love:A Journey of Faith, Family and Community (memoir), 2004, Paulist Press
(under pseudonym, Eleanor Sampeck)
Too Damned Hot, 2010, Wild Rose Press
Menopause Murders:Hostage, Wings ePress, 2010
Menopause Murders:Harem, Wings ePress, 2010
Menopause Murders:Hurdles, Wings ePress, 2011
Menopause Murders:Hot Pursuit, Wings ePress, 2012
9.Do you have a work in progress now? Is it part of a series?
Actually I just finished Hot Pursuit, which came out on May 1, 2012. The next work in progress is being outlined now and doesn’t have a full title yet.
10. If you belong to Sisters in Crime, and/or the Guppies, has that been helpful? How?
Since I started out in Romance, my affiliations have been with the Romance Writers of America, both the Connecticut and Charter Oak chapters. I also belong to CAPA, Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. I hope to join a mystery writers’ organization soon.
11. What benefit to you has it been to go to mystery conferences like Malice Domestic?
I have been to a writers’ conference of one sort or another every year since the late nineties. I have learned so much from them, and met so many helpful and inspiring people. Editors, agents, other writers and the speakers always tune me up and energize me for the writing road ahead!
12. What else would like to say about your books, the next one in your series?
My current new release, Hot Pursuit, takes place mostly in Provence, a place my husband and I have visited often. It was a great fun to recreate Provence scenes, food, markets, and public officials and know I could back up each reference with on the ground research. It made dealing with the central crime and the villains, and the May-December romance so much easier. I felt like I was there, in the flesh, and I hope my readers will experience that reality as well.