March 19, 2010

Spotlight On... Eleanor Sullo

Please welcome Eleanor Sullo to the blog today. Welcome Eleanor, will you share a short bio with us?

It’s terrific to be here, Sarah. Thanks for inviting me.

I sometimes think my unusual birthday, February 29, (a Leap Year, though I won’t say which one) has given my life some pretty unusual twists—mostly good ones, though I’ve had the opportunity to grow through some tough ones, too. I married young and with my sweetheart raised three wonderful kids outside of Hartford, CT, before I decided to pursue further education. I became a college English teacher for a few years then got a degree in Pastoral work. You meet some amazing people and hear some touching stories when you work that closely with people. I loved what I did, and still am involved in a part-time way with retreats and spiritual workshops.

But one day I realized the kid who loved to make-up stories was still pretty alive in me. A few years later I started writing full-time, though I continued my spiritual work, heavy duty organic gardening and traveling whenever possible. We still raise most of our own food, along with our two married children and their families. We hike our own land, help out in church ministries when possible, and still meet the most fabulous people around, like right now as we vacation and do book signings in Tucson, AZ.

What a productive adventure it’s been. Short stories and non-fiction, novels and a memoir, and the bonus of having my seven grandchildren grow up next door. My younger sister says I’m a late-bloomer, but she doesn’t know all the adventures of my younger years!

How many books have you published?

Four romances, book one of a six-book mystery series (Menopause Murders), and a spiritual memoir, along with editing a cookbook and contributing to a non-fiction anthology.

Tell us about TOO DAMNED HOT and where we can find it.

I always take a deep breath when I start talking about Too Damned Hot, maybe because Alana, the heroine, has gone through so much in her life, more than most of us, and has emerged a strong woman whose journey is still not easy. When she shows up to fix an air-conditioner and meets her former sweetheart after years apart, she finds herself drawn into a torrid romance she can’t resist. She’s afraid it’s just sex, and he’s scared to death it’s something more.

Secrets and lies from the past and the present rip them apart, and it’s hard to believe they will ever make it together. The book is set in Tucson, and the whole mystique of the desert—stark, haunting and sometimes scary landscapes--plays a big role, along with a dangerous and vicious uncle, a controlling grandma, hired spies and events I can’t give away. It’s called a spicy romance, but spice doesn’t begin to capture the love of these two people, in my opinion.

The Wild Rose Press is the publisher and the book’s also available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and certainly at the signings that are set up for me here in Tucson!

Where do you get your ideas?

You know, I’m not really sure. I do know my characters come first, sneak up on me and start hinting to me about their stories. Places where these characters “live” also come to mind so clearly, I just have to start writing about them, so setting always plays a big part in my stories. Haunted, 800-year-old houses, spreading farms on the banks of the rolling Hudson River, a crashing skyscraper, the awesome desert of Tucson, Arizona.

What is the most interesting comment you’ve ever received on one of your books?

A woman I met in England told me at a booksigning after she visited the haunted house I wrote about, and after I gave a brief reading from my book, Moonrakers, that she had just “met” the ghost I put into my story. She described my ghost thoroughly, and got serious chills and goosebumps telling me about it. Then I got chills and goosebumps hearing it, and when I went to sign her book, wrote her name totally wrong—a name neither of us had mentioned. I still don’t know where it came from, but I saved the wrongly signed book in case it ever inspires another mysterious character!

What do you find is the hardest part of writing a book?

Self-editing was torture when I first began writing full-length novels, but thanks to some terrific editors, like Eilidh MacKenzie of Wild Rose Press, I’m getting better at self-editing as I go along. In fact it’s kind of a welcome challenge now, and, since it means I can write more if I write more efficiently, I’m pretty motivated. There aren’t enough hours in the day to tell all those stories.

Do you become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting them go?

Definitely, which is why Menopause Murders--about six wonderful but slightly whacky women whom I call “women on fire”, Hannah, Lucia, Ada, Dorie, Theo and Meg--is becoming a six-book series, each book featuring one of the heroines. Book One, Hostage, Hannah’s story, came out in February, then the series continues with a new Menopause Murder adventure every six months. How will I leave these feisty, strong, caring, fun-loving, crime-solving, earthy, menopausal pals after a several years with them? I already have an inkling of an idea how, and it just might involve a new generation of mavericks…hmmm.

Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale (new contract) or release?

We usually just gather the family around, open an old, respected bottle of wine for a toast, and share the news. In fact, the only time we skipped that particular celebration was when I got word that Paulist Press was publishing my family-oriented memoir. I was thrilled, but the family’s reaction was, “Please use a pen name—we don’t want to be recognized!” When I finally got the idea to use my maiden name, Sampeck, everybody calmed down.

What's next for you?

I have Book Two of Menopause Murders, Harem, coming out next August. It’s a hoot, about Lucia’s mother-in-law who lives in a nursing home and is infatuated with a handsome male resident who likes to strip down and wander down the halls. When a murder takes place in the home, the women on fire decide to solve the mystery and create more recreation-opportunities for the seniors to keep them busy and happy. But there’s that streaking patient, and another guy with strange smoky odors coming from under his door, and staff people who disappear on certain nights, and some loose family ends that Lucia must tie up at home and in Italy—before the true killer can be found. Wear your running shoes to keep up with this one.

Where can we find you on the web?

I’d love to have you visit.
And thanks, Sarah, I look forward to another meeting one day.

Do you have anything you'd like to ask our readers?

Thanks for bringing that up, I do. I’m a fan of longish, can’t-stop-turning-the-pages books. I’ve heard many people prefer shorter, more easily digested stories that can be deliciously gulped down in one or two evenings. Naturally, I want readers looking for my books and those characters I meet, help create, and love. What do you, the readers prefer? Would you tell me your ideas on book length?

Readers, Eleanor and I would love to hear your answers.
Eleanor, thanks for visiting with me today.


Mary Ricksen said...

I wish you the best Eleanor and I hope you sell a ton of books!!
Raising two kids and going to school, getting a degree, you are fantastic!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Eleanor,
Wow, how did you manage to pack so much into your life and still be able to write?
Mega sales I hope.


Eleanor Sullo said...

Thanks, Mary, but I always loved going to school. I went while my three kids were teenagers and some of us would do our "homework" together at the dining room table.--Gave us a lot in common. And almost as much fun as writing. Now if I could only remember all the techno stuff I'm trying to learn growing older would be okay!

Eleanor Sullo said...

Hey, Margaret, I guess I've just lived a bit longer than some of us! I wish I could say mega sales. I'm working on it via a week of booksignings here in Tucson while on vacation. Wish me luck. And thanks for dropping in.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Ellie,
Your newest boob sounds terrific and I'll buy a copy. the Menopause Murders series title is great. Hope you get a zillion sales.

Barbara Edwards said...

Oh my gosh, book, not boob. don't snicker. an old friend is entitled to one mistake.

Anonymous said...

Ellie, I loved what you said about the characters living with true! I really love that you're focusing on older heroines, too...The movie "It's Complicated" was such a refreshing change since it featured real live grownups! Good luck with everything!

-blessed b9, Catalyst4Christ said...

Everything WILL change
-IF- you accept Jesus...
plus! you wont have these
unbuckling-of-the-pants dudes.
Puh-ray-zuh Gawwd!!!!
God bless you.