My guest today is Eleanor Sullivan. Eleanor is the award winning author of books for nurses, the former dean of nursing at the
, and past president of the world’s largest nursing organization. Turning her attention to mystery fiction, she authored the Monika Everhardt medical mystery series and, more recently, a series of historical mysteries set in the 1830s religious settlement of her ancestors. The stories feature a midwife and her cabinet-maker husband in the University of Kansas Northern Ohio . Cover Her Body, A Singular Village Mystery, is the first book in the series. village of Zoar
Anne – Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace, Eleanor. It’s always a joy to talk writing! Tell us about your most recent release.
Eleanor - Cover Her Body, A Singular Village Mystery, is the first in a historical series set in the 19th century village in
that my ancestors settled after escaping from religious persecution in Ohio . They called themselves the Society of Separatists because they had separated with the established church in Germany and named their village Zoar for the place where Germany Lot had found sanctuary much as they had in . But all was not perfect in this Garden of Eden, I discovered! Perfect, however, for murder! America
Here’s the blurb:
In a strict, religious society in 1830s rural
, a 16-year-old girl is murdered because she’s pregnant, but the only person who suspects it wasn’t an accident is Ohio , a young midwife. Her husband, Benjamin, fearful that they’ll be banned from the prosperous community, forbids her from questioning the girl’s death. But a mistake she made years ago cost the life of a mother and her unborn babe, and Adelaide vowed to never let another mother die. Pressure mounts when Adelaide is accused of harming the girl, but the allegation only fuels her determination to find the killer, disregarding danger to her own life. Adelaide
Anne - What one how-to write book is a must on your bookshelf? Why?
Eleanor - Donald Maass’ The Fire in Fiction has helped me make me a better writer, better than I ever thought I could be. He explores the subtle, but essential, details that create conflict and tension on every page, even in places where the reader could sit back and relax, something no writer wants to happen! Using this book taught me strategies and techniques I didn’t know. And didn’t know I needed.
One caveat: it’s not a book for beginners. I wouldn’t have understood it if I hadn’t already written several novels. It is a book, however, for writers who want to take their work to the next level.
Anne - If you could just snap your fingers and go, where would you visit, return to, or move? Why?
Eleanor - I am going to my favorite place—the village in
where my ancestors originated! This September I’m traveling with a group of descendants of the early Germany settlers to the towns where our ancestors were born, lived, worked, and were imprisoned for their beliefs. I anticipate it being a rewarding, and yet somewhat emotional, trip for me. Ohio
When my ancestors left
, they knew they would never return, never see their homeland. My distant grandfather even left a 14-year-old daughter there. I’m trying to trace her to see if she might have descendants in Germany . Of course, if they hadn’t come to Germany , there wouldn’t be any Singular Village Mysteries. And I’d be speaking German today! America
Anne – How exciting! I hope you post some photos on Facebook! How long did your journey from wannabe writer to published author take?
Eleanor - I had the good fortune to be published easily in nonfiction books for nurses. After receiving my doctorate, I was hired as a professor and expected to do research and write. My first book proposal was accepted and today I’m finishing the 8th edition of that book for Prentice Hall.
When I decided to write mysteries, I thought, “How hard could it be?” I found out—very difficult! I expected publishers to come calling as they had for my nonfiction. So wrong!
But perseverance paid off—ten years later. During that time, I attended workshops, took classes and, most importantly, submitted my work to demanding editors. It was a good thing that I had gone through graduate school and was prepared for rigorous criticism. In the end, that’s what made the difference, and I’m grateful for their help.
Anne - How many books have you written to date? Are you most proud of one in particular? If so, why?
Eleanor - I’ve had more than a dozen nonfiction books for nurses published (the latest is Becoming Influential: A Guide for Nurses) and three in my contemporary nurse series (Monika Everhardt mysteries), but I’m most proud of the first in this new series, the Singular Village Mysteries, because, although it’s a fictional mystery, it captures the lives and work of my ancestors. When I’m writing I almost feel like I’m living in my distant grandparents’ world. That makes the work part of writing somewhat more tolerable!
Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?
, the midwife in my current series, is most special to me. I envision her working with (and arguing with) my distant grandfather, who was the leader of the Separatists in Zoar. She’s a strong, independent woman in a time when few women dared to be so forthcoming. She delivered babies before the cause of maternal deaths (common in those days) were known. The germ theory hadn’t been discovered, and physicians often spread disease because they failed to wash their hands. Like real-life midwives in early Adelaide , America is a scrubby-Dutch hausfrau, which saved lives. She is, however, far more courageous than I am. I’d never try to track down a murderer! Adelaide
Anne - Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?
Eleanor - Actually three: persistence, persistence, persistence! Persistence in learning your craft, persistence in soliciting criticism, and persistence in using that criticism to improve your work. I’ve seen numerous writers fail because they refused to do all three. So, don’t give up!
Anne - Where can readers find you online?
Anne - Thanks so much for visiting today, Eleanor. It’s been a blast, and I wish you every success with Cover Her Body!
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