USA Today best-selling author Ellie Ashe has always been drawn to jobs where she can tell stories—journalist, lawyer, and now writer. Writing funny romantic mysteries is how she gets the “happily ever after” that so often is lacking in her day job. She also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense under the name Eve Kincaid, and is co-creator of the Lost Coast Harbor series with author Lily Danes.
When not writing, you can find Ellie with her nose in a good book, watching far too much TV, or trying out new recipes on unsuspecting friends and family. She lives in Northern California with her husband and three cats, all of whom worry when she starts browsing the puppy listings on http://petfinder.com
How did you get started writing books for publication?
I had been writing for years, but hadn’t had the guts to share my fiction with anyone. Then I saw that Gemma Halliday Publishing was having a contest for the first 1,000-words of a mystery. I entered and didn’t win, but she asked to see the rest of the book. That eventually led to a contract for Chasing the Dollar and the rest of the Miranda Vaughn series and then a Danger Cove mystery.
You have had several careers, including being a journalist and a lawyer. How have they influenced your writing career?
Both careers involve storytelling. I loved being able to meet people and share their stories when I was a reporter, and being a lawyer isn’t much different. Instead of writing for a national audience, though, a lawyer is usually writing the story of a client for an audience of one—the judge. So both jobs taught me how to find what the story was—what makes this person relatable, interesting, or compelling.
Being a reporter and a lawyer also gives you an endless supply of interesting story ideas and fascinating characters to observe. Though I’m no longer practicing law, I still love to go to court and watch trials. And I keep in touch with friends from both those jobs so I can keep up on the gossip. Lawyers and reporters have great stories!
A key premise of your books is that Miranda Vaughn is “radioactive” towards new jobs in the financial sector despite not only being found not guilty but being demonstrated innocent. As a lawyer, have you seen such incidents?
Yes, absolutely. When someone is arrested or charged with a crime, the prosecutor’s office might send out a press release and that could get picked up by the news media. When charges are dismissed or there’s an acquittal, unless it’s really high profile, there’s not much fanfare. Defense attorneys don’t have press offices, and have good reasons to avoid commenting on pending cases. This can lead to a very lopsided amount of information that’s available to the public. Any future employer is only going to remember what they saw in the news, not the quiet dismissal of charges. And despite the presumption that we’re all innocent until proven guilty, too many people feel like if someone has been arrested they must have done something wrong.
Miranda ends up in Belize in your first book in that series, Chasing the Dollar, and she gets chased all over the country. I really felt that I was seeing the place as she and Jake flee the bad guys. Have you been to Belize? How did you describe it so vividly?
So, no, I haven’t been to Belize. I have traveled in the region, but not specifically to Belize. This is where Google Earth and travel blogs come in handy. I spent days looking at photographs of Belize and Macau online. It was research, I swear! I wasn’t just daydreaming! Then I asked two friends who had been there to read those chapters to make sure nothing was glaringly wrong.
Your third Miranda Vaughn book, Lucky Penny, takes place in Lake Tahoe, dealing with movie stars and illegal gambling. What kind of research did this book require?
Lake Tahoe is a place I have been to, quite a lot in fact. I live not too far from there and it’s one of my favorite places to visit. So the location didn’t require any new research. Reading about illegal gambling and how to make an independent movie isn’t exactly a chore. I had some experience covering gaming when I was a reporter, so I knew where to go to find information about gambling. And a friend of mine is an actress so I relied on her to fact-check my movie set scenes.
While your books have plenty of adventure to them, they also have vivid descriptions of white-collar crime. How do you make such things so interesting?
I’m glad it was interesting to you! I find it fascinating what people will do for money, so because I’m interested in schemes and frauds, I just hope that comes through and makes other people see why I love it.
White-collar crimes, like embezzlement or fraud, sometimes start with good intentions. Someone “borrows” from the company till, but doesn’t get caught so it happens again, and then it snowballs until there is no way to ever repay it. Or the investment started out as a legitimate opportunity, but when it went south the advisor tried to cover up the losses, leading to a bigger problem. These sorts of “bad guys” are more complex than a one-dimensional villain, so they’re more fun to write. They have their own motives and often think they’re doing the right thing for a long time.
Your website says you love to cook. What are your favorite foods to make?
My favorite recipes vary, depending on the season and what food just showed up in my veggie delivery. I love making bread, but it’s starting to warm up too much to turn on the oven. Since the weather is warming, I think it might be time to get an ice cream maker and start experimenting with that. I did just make a lemon curd that was out of this world!
What books did you love to read as a child? What do you like to read now?
I loved all books as a child, but then I discovered mysteries—starting with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden—and I was hooked. I still love mysteries of all types, thrillers, and crime novels. But I also read a ton of romance. I read fiction to escape, so I want to know that at the end of the book there’s going to be a happily ever after. I’ll go through hell with the characters as long as there is that promise that it will somehow work out in the end.
You can check out Ellie through her various web links:
Read my review of Chasing the Dollar
Read my review of Dropping the Dime
Read my review of Lucky Penny