Sunday, 15 March 2020

Killer Women Festival : Fresh Blood : Bella Ellis

Hello and welcome to the (virtual) Killer Women Fresh Blood panel. I’m going to be chatting with four fantastic debut crime authors who will spill the beans about their books, and share a publishing secret or two. You can join the discussion on Twitter here. Do ask questions and, most importantly, buy the books!

First up is Bella Ellis whose crime debut, The Vanished Bride (Hodder & Stoughton) is the first in a new mystery series about the Brontë sisters (aided or otherwise by their feckless brother) investigating crimes whilst finding inspiration for their best-loved books. The Wall Street Journal called it ‘a delight’ while the Guardian praised it as a ‘splendid adventure, touching and often funny’. 

Bella Ellis is the Brontë-esque pseudonym of bestselling author, Rowan Coleman, who’s been obsessed with the Brontës since childhood. I always think that’s the best thing to have as a writer: an obsession.

SH: Bella, you’ve spending a lot of time wondering what life might have been like for female detectives in the 1850s. What conclusions have you reached?

BE: For women in the 1850s life was a precarious and dangerous business no matter what social background you came from, so much of what women did then, had a high probability of resulting in death, from working at the mill to becoming pregnant. In a way, though middle class spinsters, particularly the ones that had to earn a living were looked down upon, they were in a better position than most. As Charlotte famously said, ‘what author would be without the advantage of being able to walk invisible?’ She was referring to being unsuspected as the famous author Currer Bell because of her gender, but it could be equally said of being an investigator. Single, ineligible women were largely ignored at the same time as being allowed entry to a great many situations. It could be the perfect undercover disguise.

SH: Your chosen pseudonym is very clever (literary sleuths will know why)! You’ve talked about identifying with Charlotte Brontë’s writerly angst. Was there a lot of angst in taking on this pseudonym and starting a mystery series?

BE: SO MUCH ANGST! For a variety of reasons. Firstly, though I’m a life long Brontë fan, I’m a novelist and not a historian or an academic, and really worried about what people would think of me engaging with the Brontë family this way, and secondly because this is my first foray into mystery and I know how much hard work and expertise goes into writing a well placed, intricately plotted crime or suspense novel. In the end I asked my self what would Emily do, but I thought she’d probably just go for walk, write the story and never show anyone. So then I asked what would Charlotte do, and I remembered that Charlotte said,’ I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.’ And then I did what Anne would have done, which is lots of research and hard work. Generally I think as writers, we have to keep frightening ourselves to stay engage, and that’s always been my tactic.

SH: What's next for you?

BE: The second in The Brontë Mysteries - The Diabolical Bones is due out in November (The paperback of The Vanished Bride in September) and I’m working on a new Rowan Coleman idea right now, which I’m very excited about.

Thanks, Bella!

You can buy The Vanished Bride here (supporting your local indie bookshop). Do join the discussion on Twitter where Bella can be found here.

1 comment:

christine said...

Hi! First of all, may I say that I am in awe of you writing so many novels whilst bringing up five children! I was just wondering if your children ever give you ideas for the books you write, and whether we should be worried about your switch to crime fiction?!?