Storm Goddess Book Reviews proudly welcomes Elissa Ambrose to the blog for an interview! Welcome, Elissa and thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!
How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
I’ve been writing ever since I learned to pick up a pencil. I was an introspective kid, and writing provided me with a way to connect with the word, even if it was just in my head. But life happens, and over the years I came out of my shell. I’ve published four novels with Silhouette Books, the two most recent reaching the Waldenbooks bestseller list for romance. Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs, my first indie offering, falls under the umbrella of women’s fiction, but it’s also a mystery. Every once in a while I revert to my old introspective self; hence, Burial Instructions, a collection of literary short stories, my other indie offering.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
Multiple genres: literary, women’s fiction, mystery, and young adult—I go wherever the story takes me. In other words, I don’t write to the label; it gets affixed to the completed work.
Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
I’m a plotter. In addition to an outline, I like to have several key scenes mapped out before I begin the first draft. I might not write to labels, but I do write to goals. The plan, however, is not static. It’s always changing and growing as I write. Often, the final product is nothing like it started out to be. Such is the nature of art. It imitates life.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
No such animal. It all depends on where I’m at in the process. For me, the first draft is the hardest, as it requires the most discipline. In this phase, let’s just say I’m easily distracted. But I love revising. This is where the story really comes to life. When I’m in this phase, I practically live at my desk. Some days, especially when I’m in the zone, I can work for ten straight hours. Yet some days I don’t go near my computer at all and I do something completely unrelated to writing. Oddly, this is when some of my best “writing” gets done. This is when ideas start percolating. Of course, I always carry a notepad. I wouldn’t want these little darlings to get away.
Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
I’ll read just about anything—novels, biographies, history, soup cans. If it has words, it has my attention. But my favorite authors are another story. Gosh, where do I start? Margaret Atwood, D. H. Lawrence, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyer, Susan Isaacs are just a few of the authors who have influenced me over the years. I think my all-time favorite book is Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. Lately though, I find myself reading a lot of YA and middle grade. Christopher Pike, Judy Blume, and Beverly Cleary have always been favorites, but these days I’m a big fan of Suzanne Collins and Scott Westerfeld. The YA book that has had the most impact on me is Jenny Downham’s Before I Die. And of course, I love everything by Sarah Mlynowski, and not just because she’s my daughter! She has such an upbeat, optimistic view of the world, and it shines through in all her writing.
What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I’d like to finally write that certain novel that has been percolating at the back of my mind for years. It’s a women’s fiction, but with a unique twist on life. (Though really, isn’t that what fiction is all about? Life with a unique twist?) All I can say is that this book wasn’t ready to see the light of day until now. It’s by no means autobiographical, yet it could not be written at any other time in my life.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
It’s not exactly paranormal, but I’d like to be that proverbial fly on the wall. Every writer is a bit of a voyeur, don’t you think?
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
Yoda, because he’s so much wiser (and shorter) than I am.
Tell us a little about your latest release.
Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs is about a just-turned-fifty woman who has spent years putting up with her husband’s infidelity. When Jeffrey suddenly disappears, Ellen is jolted from her marital coma and becomes an accidental sleuth. What begins as an innocent trip to the car repair shop leads her to a dangerous, edgy world where nothing is as it seems. Delving into the complex dynamics of marriage, particularly the consequences of broken trust, the story traces Ellen’s journey to the truth about her husband. But what she learns is a little more than what she bargained for. And what she stands to lose is a lot more than her marriage.
What is something that you absolutely can’t live without? (Other than family members)
I always tell my husband that if the day ever comes when I have to go to a nursing home, I’ll be a happy camper as long as I have my e-reader and the Internet. I’d hate to give up reading, say, for example, should my eyesight fail, but in this modern day of technology, a new gadget comes out every nanosecond, so I’m not too worried. For example, my husband used to be an avid reader, but he had to stop when he became seeing impaired. Then one day my daughter bought me an iPad. My husband discovered he could make the font ginormous, and that was the end of the iPad for me.
Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
Viggo Mortenson. Wait. I have to write? Can’t I just stare?
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
I always wanted to fly, so I guess I’d say Amelia Earhart. I’d ask her what really happened up there. And of course, John Lennon. What would I do? Probably faint. He was my first love. I’d ask him why he never returned my calls.
What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
Hobbies? What’s that? What with writing, reading, editing, and promoting, not to mention everyday life, who has time? I do love to travel though, and I try to get away for a month each year. There’s nothing more inspiring than a lovely sunset on the beach (and maybe a margarita or two) to get those creative juices flowing.
If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
I’m pretty sure that Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies has already been optioned, but can they please get started already? Plus, it has to be in 3D—I want to be right there on the hoverboard with Tally, watching the trees zoom by, feeling the wind on my face, praying I won’t fall off and splat like a bug.
What is a talent you wish you had, but don’t?
I wish I could carry a tune. I think my older daughter’s first words were “Mommy, don’t sing.” So much for my rendition of “Rockabye Baby.” Instead, I told her stories. But it worked out for the best. Today she’s an author.
Weather: Hot or cold?
Hot, hot, hot. Hey, I’m from Montreal. I love the city, but I never want to see snow tires again.
Favorite place to read?
In bed, propped up with three pillows.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Chocolate milkshake, no contest there.
If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
As that old song goes, fly me to the moon.
If a woman tries to preserve a marriage that has been damaged by infidelity, is she heroic or is she delusional? How many times does her husband have to cheat before she calls it quits? How many times does he have to get caught?
Meet Ellen Dunwell, doting wife, loving mother, high school teacher extaordinaire. She’s worried that her husband, the respected Dr. Jeffrey Dunwell, successful dermatologist, wonderful father, great lover, is having another affair. A man of many interests, Jeffrey also dabbles in real estate. But Ellen won’t confront him about what she’s sure is his latest interest, his perky new lab assistant, Keeley Wilder. She doesn’t want to sound like a shrew, but worse, what if she’s right? As if that’s not bad enough, her friends don’t understand her, her neighbor’s son is a Peeping Tom, and her angst-ridden teenage daughter is stashing pot in her room and dating a control freak. When Jeffrey suddenly disappears, Ellen nearly slips over the edge. Instead, she pulls herself together and sets out on a mission to find him—only to get caught up in a web of intrigue and danger, where nothing is as it seems and the stakes are her life.
Review Rating: 4 Lightning Bolts
Review: The fun has only just begun....except, it's not fun! Ellen has just celebrated the big 5-0. That's when her life starts spiraling out of control. Sex, Lies, and Hot Tubs is a great women's fiction novel. Plenty of drama, mystery, and much more. Ellen is a character that can be easily related to with her situations with her husband, daughter, and other people in her life. There's moments that made me laugh, some angry times, and plenty of humor. The characters are believable and well fleshed out. Over all, this is an enjoyable read.
Elissa Ambrose was born in Montreal, Canada. After graduating from McGill University with a degree in English, for some strange reason she embarked on a career in computer programming. Seventeen years later, after an amicable parting with technology, she returned to her first love—the written word. First she was an editor at a company that produced educational material, and later at a literary magazine. Prior toSex, Lies & , she published four romances with Harlequin and several short stories. Along the road to publication, she raised two daughters. She and her husband now live in Arizona. (Yes, it’s hot. But it’s a dry heat, remember? And you can’t shovel heat.)
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