Tuesday, October 09, 2007

M.E. Ellis - Writer, Editor, Reviewer, Mom

This was posted way last March. More recently, M.E. edited the anthology Weirdly in which I was lucky enough to have some stories.

M.E Ellis is a writer and editor. She came from relative obscurity only a couple of years ago into being a well-known novelist all while raising five kids. M.E started in the psychological horror world with the ebook "Pervalism," which is now also in print format. M.E's blog profile says:

Writer, horror editor of WildChild magazine, associate editor of DredTales ezine, novel reviewer, editor and proofreader for WildChild publishing & Freya's Bower, all-round strange woman, mother, wife, cleaner, cook, soft-arsed eccentric.

Visit her website M.E. Ellis
And for good laugh, check out her blog Nutter's Gang

Q: First off, why don't you give us a rundown on what you're up to these days. We already know you've published:

Pervalism: Psychological horror.
Quits: Psychological horror.
Garou Moon: Horror erotica.
Charade: Humour erotica.
All About Brenda: Humour erotica.

You're becoming a regular library all on your own. Which baby is your favorite? Come on, I won't tell the others. And what's on the burner for your next book?

M.E: My favourite is Quits. I'm currently conversing with my mind to persuade it to create Quits 2, title Aquitted. Seems people want to hear more from Wayne, the mental-case in Quits. I could tell you which book of mine I absolutely hate (excuse me one moment, two of my boys are fighting and I need to speak with them in a manner that lets them know that an early bed time is upcoming...) Yes, I could tell you which one I hate but that isn't very good business practice.
* Read a review of Quits at Cocktail Reviews

I have one novel, Five Pyramids, which I've half-heartedly wanged at a few agents. Though half have rejected it, most did comment that my writing was good, just too dark for them to sell. It's either dark or light with me, so, when one agent said she'd be happy to read something of mine that wasn't so horrific, I had to wonder what I could send her. I'm still thinking about that.

My current WIP is another dark one, though I've gone with the softer horror approach. More of a 'reader knows what's happened but I haven't spelled it out'. The MC refers to her murders as 'accidents' and they can, in fact, be claimed as such. She also listens to everything her doll tells her, which makes for some creepy scenes (so my wonderful ‘read as I write’ people have said).

Q: You've turned recently to writing erotica. Okay, humour erotica. What's that all about and how do you hide it from your kids?

M.E: Garou Moon is my only rude-rude erotica. I was uncomfortable writing that book. I'd alternate from having bright red cheeks from being embarrassed at what I'd written, to laughing out loud every time I wrote the word cock or buttocks. Like a small child swearing for the first time, Garou Moon was certainly an eye opener for me. I then settled for the sweeter chick-lit (say that word when drunk and it sounds like a part of the woman's anatomy that made me laugh while writing it) erotica as it was easy on my cheeks to write. The demand for erotica is so high, I thought I'd get my name out there that way too.

As for hiding it from my kids, I don't. I mean, I don't sit here and yell, 'Hey kids! Mom's just wrote cock, come see!' but I have explained that some people like to read about sex so I've written something for them to read. The boys found it hilarious. I remember telling them about it while walking round town, as they asked what I was writing at the time while I poked and prodded some fruit in the market. My middle son, quite loudly I might add, said, 'Mum writes about dicks!' We got some funny looks but I steered them in the direction of a shop and bought them a gobstopper candy.

Q: I'm a longtime reader of your blog and I'll have to say you're one of the funniest people I know. How did you get to be so funny, yet scare the pants off everyone at the same time? What attracted you to horror, then to erotica?

M.E: How did I get to be so funny? I wasn't really aware that I WAS funny until people mentioned it in emails and on blog comments. I literally just write my blog posts as I would speak. In real life, I did go through a phase of being a silly person so that people laughed and thought everything must be fine with me. Hilarity can cover up a multitude of hurts.

I used to write cheesy romances and, looking back, those books really are quite crap. I sat down one day after writing a few funnies on the crit group I once belonged to and bashed out a dark piece. People kind of liked it, so I decided to try my hand at a horror novel and Pervalism was born. Dark writing helps me purge inner angst from my past, from the horrible stuff going on in the world. And it gives me a chance to murder all those people who have hurt me in some way. There are many walking cadavers in my life now--unaware I've sliced and diced them in my books.

With erotica, it's just one of those things--I wanted to try my hand at it (at the writing not at...oh balls...) and see if it was my kind of thing. Full blown sex isn't but the sweeter versions are, so that's cool.

Q: Besides writing, you're also an editor for WildChild and Freya's Bower. What advice can you give other writers as an editor? What are your pet peeves and what do you really like to see when you're editing?

M.E: Advice, murder your darlings. Learn as much as you can. Don't just settle for shoddy editing so that you can say, 'I'm a published writer!' Soak up as much knowledge as you can, study published books, break up the plot, get into the author's mind to see how they made the book work. I do that all the time, takes the pleasure out of reading though.

Pet Peeves? I don't really have a pet peeve anymore. When I first started editing, certain things bugged me quite a bit, but those things are so common in nearly every MS that I've edited that they fail to annoy me anymore. They are just every writer's quirk, I guess.

What do I like to see in an MS? If just one line lights up the screen and brings tears to my eyes from the beauty of it, then the whole book is worth it. I've read some superb lines in my time, they stand out from the rest and bring great imagery. I also like character-heavy books. Probably why I write those kind myself.

Q: You've also got a hat that says "Reviewer" on a slip of paper tucked into the brim. How do you keep your Editor persona in check when you're reviewing?

M.E: I used to find it really hard to review without screeching or picking. Now I have to zone my mind out, read the book with the characters and plot in mind, not the editing (or lack of). If I didn't do that, I would have to close the document and never open it again. I'd miss out on some great books if I did that. Just a shame the was-ings etc are all there to bug the crap out of me. Might just be me. Other people don't seem to mind them!

Thanks, M.E. See you on Nutter's Gang!


  1. This is a good read. It also goes to show that if done well, persistence pays off.

  2. Great interview, Marva and Michelle.

    I have a quick question for you, Michelle: How do you manage to write so much and accomplish as much as you do with five kids?


  3. Catherman from EotW? Hello you!

    Kit-- umm, I don't know really. I think I just manage my time really well, though some days just flit by without me noticing. Oh, and I write really fast when the muse strikes.

    This weekend alone I've written 30K on Quits 2, plus put piles of laundry away, changed all the bed sheets, cooked dinner, sat with CV while he's done cover art.

    Cripes, if I think about the amount I actually do I'd freak myself out!

    I've given myself today and tomorrow to finish writing Quits 2. That would make a novel written in 5 days, and it isn't shabby either (modest for once in my life!)! I'm amazed at how clean the MS is, and how I've managed to make every word count as if it is a 5th draft not 1st. I'm quite pleased with myself! It's lovely to reach the stage where you can feel confident about your work. I used to doubt myself a lot.