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The Crozats feared that past murders at Crozat Plantation B&B might spell the death of their beloved estate, but they’ve managed to survive the scandal. Now there’s a très bigger story in Pelican, Louisiana: the upcoming nuptials between Maggie Crozat’s nemesis, Police Chief Rufus Durand, and her co-worker, Vanessa Fleer.
When everyone else refuses the job of being Vanessa’s Maid of Honor, Maggie reluctantly takes up the title and finds herself tasked with a long list of duties–the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa’s cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke. But just days before the wedding, Ginger’s lifeless body is found on the bayou and the Pelican PD, as well as the Crozats, have another murder mystery on their hands.There’s a gumbo-potful of suspects, including an ex-Marine with PTSD, an annoying local newspaper reporter, and Vanessa’s own sparkplug of a mother. But when it looks like the investigation is zeroing in on Vanessa as the prime suspect, Maggie reluctantly adds keeping the bride-to-be out of jail to her list of Maid of Honor responsibilities in Body on the Bayou.
Q: Aloha, Ellen, and welcome back to Island Confidential! I really enjoyed Body on the Bayou, but for our readers who haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, why don’t you tell us something about your protagonist, Maggie?
A: Magnolia “Maggie” Crozat is a thirty-two year old Cajun/Creole artist who spent over a decade in Manhattan and has come home to Pelican, Louisiana after a painful breakup. She’s a fish out of water in her hometown, where residents seem to see her as “that artsy fartsy girl.” She divides her time between working at her family’s plantation-turned-B&B, working as a tour guide at another plantation, and pursuing her art career.
Q: How much of you is reflected in Maggie?
A: Maggie has my dry sense of humor. And I’ve often felt like a fish out of water in life, so we share that. But we certainly don’t share a talent for art! I can barely draw stick figures. I think Maggie and I would be friends in real life. Except I’m not as hip as she is, LOL.
Q: Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
A: Oh, absolutely. Maggie becomes more secure in herself and her relationship with hot detective – they’re always hot, aren’t they? – Bo Durand. Her relationships with some frenemies change as well. I love create unexpected alliances.
Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
A: Fo sho! In fact, wanting to kill a coworker is what inspired me to try writing mysteries. I wrote a chapter of a book where I turned him into an odious character who got murdered. I worked out some inner demons, but the writing wasn’t very good, so I shelved that project. Happy to say that no one’s driven me that far since – except for the occasional political figure.
Q: How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
A: The actual town where I set my series, Pelican, Louisiana, is a fictionalized version of a real small town. The plantations are based on real location as well, and while I fictionalize the locations a bit, the settings are pretty close to the real thing. If I guided you to many of the areas that inspired me, you’d find the real-life locations pretty close to their made-up counterparts.
Q: You’ve written for hit TV shows like Wings and Just Shoot Me, so I know this question must have crossed your mind: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
A: Hah, I’ve asked myself this question many times! I see Anne Hathaway as Maggie, and Colin O’Donoghue from Once Upon a Time, my favorite TV series, as her boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand. And my dream casting for Gran’ would be Blythe Danner.
Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
A: Honestly, nothing stands out as “best advice,” except for “put the funny word at the end of the sentence,” which has served me well as a sitcom writer. But I remember one specific lesson I learned that could classify as “worst advice.” I’d written a play inspired by my relationship with my great-aunt. After it was read in a writers group I belonged to, a member of the group who was way more established than me said he liked the play, but it would be much stronger if it was about the relationship between a girl and her father. I re-wrote the play… and completely lost my connection to it. He wasn’t giving a note. He was telling me how he would have written the play. That experience taught me to really distill and decipher notes so that they benefit my intentions and don’t throw me off course.
About The Author
Ellen’s debut novel, PLANTATION SHUDDERS: A Cajun Country Mystery, has been nominated for an Agatha Best First Novel award, a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery, and a Daphne Award for Best Mainstream Mystery. The second Cajun Country Mystery is BODY ON THE BAYOU, released September 2016. Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. Ellen Byron is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University.