The Midnight Confessions of Ella Grace

Manda hbio-picere. You may not know this about me,  but one of the romantic suspense hero types that really cranks my tractor is the small town sheriff. So when I picked up the first book in Ella Grace’s new trilogy set in Midnight, Alabama and saw that the hero was…a small town sheriff, I was SO there. And when I realized that Ella Grace is the alter ego of Christy Reece, who writes angsty, nail-biting international romantic suspense, I HAD to know more.

So, being the Nosy Nellie that I am, I invited Ella to K&T so I could get the real scoop for me and for all of you out there who read and loved her Last Chance Rescue books as Christy Reece and who are well on the way to adoring every word that Ella Grace puts on the page. Without further ado, let’s welcome to the K&T lounge, the delightful, Ella Grace!

MC: Welcome, Ella! I’m so glad you’re here. I first started reading your Last Chance Rescue series cover_rewardunder your Christy Reece name and became a fan. That you’re also an Alabama girl just cements it!

EG: Hey Manda! Thanks so much for having me over. I’m excited to be here. And I always love talking to another Alabama girl.

MC: Bama gals have to stick together! Only we know how grateful to be for the existence of Mississippi! Speaking of locales…Your Last Chance Rescue series feels global in scope, with many of the stories taking place overseas, and the headquarters of the Last Chance Rescue organization calling Paris home. Your new Ella Grace stories are set in small town Alabama, which is about as far from Paris as you can get. What are the challenges of writing about people and places that are so narrow in focus? Do you prefer one over the other?

EG: At first it was a struggle to go from an international setting to a place that could be my own back yard. I love the exotic excitement of international settings. Depending upon how far you want to go in making the setting a part of your story, it can add a lot or a little extra flavor. My LCR characters are sophisticated, street smart, and somewhat edgy. They wouldn’t fare well in a sleepy little southern town, no matter how many murders take place there. So I felt the need to tone down the ‘world-weary toughness’ of the characters but still make them comfortable if danger came calling. Which it does.

When I first started writing the series, I wanted to stretch myself creatively so I worked to keep Christy’s voice out of Ella’s writing. My Christy Reece books tend to be dark and angsty. I don’t think I was totally successful, because there’s quite a bit of angst in the first two books and the third one is shaping up to be even more so. However the blend of Christy and Ella’s voice began to work quite well and became a good fit for the series.

When the town of Midnight finally came alive for me, so did the book. The story wasn’t really working until I finally named the town. I was going for a Southern sounding name but could never find one that I liked or wasn’t already a real city or town in the South. Then I noticed that certain monumental, life-changing events kept occurring around the midnight hour. That’s when the name Midnight struck me, and suddenly the town and it’s citizens came alive.

hcover-midnight-secretsTo create it further, I drew on my knowledge of small southern towns. I grew up in a small Alabama community where whatever you did was scrutinized and talked about almost before you did it. And I’ve lived in small southern cities where shady dealings of law enforcement was known and accepted as a way of life. Having lived in the South most of my life, I felt comfortable creating the characters, from the quirky and loveable Aunt Gibby, the nosey Inez, the humorless but somewhat mysterious Faye, to the hideous red neck characters of the Daytons and Hensons. At some point in my life, I’ve met them all.

It was so much fun creating this pretty little south Alabama town. I’d love to live there–well, except for the murders. 🙂

I can’t say that I prefer one setting more than the other. However, I do have to get in a particular mindset to write each series. And in its own way, it’s freeing to be able to ‘switch gears’ voice-wise.

MC: Midnight Secrets the first of your new series set in Midnight, AL introduces the reader to the Wilde triplets whose parents died under mysterious circumstances when the three girls were children. Midnight Secrets is Savannah’s story which reunites her with her high school boyfriend Zach. Reunited lovers is one of the most popular tropes in romance. What do you think draws readers to these stories? Do you have a favorite?

EG: I adore reunited lovers stories. Four of my LCR books are reunion romances. There’s just something about having that history, the remembered heat of passion. Reigniting the spark and watching it flame out of control is so much fun to create and watch. You know I love angst and what’s more angsty than past hurts or betrayals and working to overcome them?

MC: Choosing triplets as your heroines for this series is a bold move, and I love it. What was your reason for casting this series with triplets instead of just sisters? Was there something about the bond between multiples–and especially identical ones that intrigued you?

EG: I really wish I had an intelligent, well thought out reason for making the sisters triplets. I don’t. From the moment I sat down to write Midnight Secrets, I knew the sisters were triplets. However, once I got into the story, I realized how much fun I was going to have with it. The sisters are identical in appearance but how they reacted to their parents’ deaths became such a wonderful personality and character study. Savannah turns inward, becoming shy and bookish. Samantha hides her pain behind her popularity, letting no one know what’s going on behind her bright smile. And Sabrina rebels, making each issue that comes her way a battle she must fight and win.

And I do love the bond that they have. It’s not psychic or supernatural. It’s pure, untainted lovehcover-midnight-lies between siblings. I didn’t want the typical strife one might see between sisters. I wanted the girls to be best friends. When the world comes crashing down around them, they have each other. No matter who’s against them, they always have each other’s backs. Their relationship is one of my favorite aspects of the series.

MC: The second book in this series Midnight Lies, is Samantha Wilde’s story. What kind of trouble is on the horizon for this sister, the cop? Who is her hero?

EG: Samantha is a homicide detective in Atlanta, dating Quinn Braddock, who she thinks is the ‘most perfect man on earth’. However when his ex-wife is murdered and he’s found standing over her body, she begins to wonder if the perfection she thought she saw in him was a facade. She’s never really dealt with her parents’ deaths and all of that comes crashing down on her, making her question her judgment.

Quinn is an ER doctor and has been betrayed repeatedly by the people in his life. However, if there’s one person he knows he can count on, it’s Samantha Wilde. Imagine his surprise when he realizes she’s not sure of his innocence.

After their break-up, Samantha returns to Midnight and Quinn follows her. But all isn’t rosy. They’ve hurt each other badly and their earlier relationship put more emphasis on their physical attraction than it did on getting to know each other. This is something they have to rectify if they’re going to move forward. Into the mix comes another murder and once again Quinn is considered a suspect. This time Samantha stands by her man, unaware that the killer has set his sights on her as his next victim.

MC: Who are some of your influences? Your favorite authors, romance, suspense or otherwise?

EG: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. (MC: Hi fives! Always love meeting other Nancy Drew fans!) I loved the excitement and fun of puzzling out the mysteries. Some of my favorite romance and suspense authors are Linda Howard, Karen Rose, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood and Allison Brennan.

MC: Do you have any more projects underway? Tell me about them!

EG: Yes, I’ve started a new series called Grey Justice. The first book, Nothing To Lose, features a young woman who has everything she’s ever dreamed of and then loses it all because of one family’s corruption and greed. She’s determined to see that they pay. Enter a mysterious man who offers to help her in her quest but has his own agenda and another man who’s number one goal is to save her from herself, even if it costs him his life.

I’m also continuing my Last Chance Rescue series, with at least three more books planned. And another book in the Wildefire series for Sabrina Wilde, the third triplet.

MC: Ella, thank you so much for visiting us today! I can’t wait to read your next book, no matter which of your personae is writing it!

To learn more about Ella Grace and her Wildefire Series or Christy Reece and Last Chance Rescue, check her out on the web, on her LCR Facebook Page, her Ella Grace Facebook Page, or @EllaGraceBooks on Twitter.

So, gentle readers, do you like your Romantic Suspense with an international flavor or a downhome flair? Tell us which one you like best, and give us an example! One lucky reader will receive a copy of Ella Grace’s latest Wilde Sisters book, Midnight Sins.

Posted on September 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. Being what we affectionally refer to as a lifelong city-dwelling mutt of the world (i.e. having moved to continent #3 by age 16), I’m definitely down with the international flavour. I’m not even sure what ‘down-home’ looks like! 🙂

    Love this series and cant’ wait to read more Christy/Ella!

  2. I love both aspects for the romance novel, both the international flair and the down home. They bring such a different flavor to a story and having my two favorite authors, Christy Reece and Ella Grace, bringing that to me then I’ll always have really great options available depending on my mood!

  3. There are times for both settings. Sometimes you want to be taken to a far away place and be romanced and other times it is just comforting to see something close to home. The international settings intrigue me with more what ifs in life but the down home are much more realistic. Not being a Southern Belle, but having lived in the south for a short period of time, I love the characters in Midnight, AL.
    One of the best examples of a southern girl that got me hooked on Alabama readers was Linda Howard’s Blair Mallory. I cannot wait to be able to read Midnight Lies.

  4. I’m more of a hometown girl! Though it really depends on the story lines because I love the LCR books too!! 🙂

  5. Ella: It’s so good to have you back on K&T! I’m excited to hear about your new series and the additions to LCR. Wow, you’re busy. 😉 I’m not sure I can choose between international and small town. I love both for different reasons. Good thing I’m not in the running for the book, huh? 😉

  6. Hi Ella! Wow as soon as I read ‘Midnight, AL’ I was onboard and the small-town-sheriff phrase certainly helped…I’m like Manda in that way. Triplets…well, now we’re talking the trifecta (no pun intended.) I’m buzzing over to Amazon.

    Like most of the answers above I enjoy international settings and small towns, and have completely different reader expectations for each.

    But interesting small town names really hook me from page one, I don’t know why. Jenny Crusie’s “Welcome to Temptation” was set in Temptation, OH.

    And of course the incredible Kristin Higgins and her small New England towns…it’s all about the gossip and knowing what so-and-so did in third grade. (Thank god I never grew up in a small town!) 🙂

    Thank you for being with us today and best of luck on sales!

    • Hi five for sheriff-love, Sarah!

    • Hi Sarah! I totally agree about small town names being a hook. I’m far more likely to pick up a book that has an intriguing name than one that’s kind of blah. The small town I grew up in was once named Clough. LOL They changed it to something with only a little more pizazz–Pumpkin Center. 🙂

      LOL Who wouldn’t want to visit a town named Temptation? And Kristin Higgins has so got it right on small town gossips. I still get reminded of 3rd grade shenanigans when I go back home for a visit.

      Thanks so much for the good wishes and letting me come over today!

  7. Great interview, Manda and welcome back, Ella/Christy!

    LOL – I love both and like Christy, have written both. 🙂

    As a reader, I really loved Tami Hoag’s earlier romantic suspense books set in small towns in Minnesota and Louisiana, and can’t get enough of Carol O’Connell’s NYC-set mysteries.

  8. I keep meaning to try Carol O’Connell, Rachel. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. I really can’t pick – I love both small town stories and the armchair travel of international locations. And sometimes you get both when the story takes us from the US to an overseas location.

  10. prefer international settings

  11. I prefer international settings. Only because I am a hometown girl. Until I met my hubby I’d only be in the four touching states to the one I live in. After, I married my hubby swept me away and I’ve figured out that traveling is so my thing.
    Nothing better than a new food on a balcony overlooking a body of water with a pretty face.

  12. I’m joining the chorus: both! Right now I’m reading Vince Flynn and Karin Slaughter plus Pete Earley’s Witsec. How exciting to add Ella Grace and Christy Reece to my TBR pile 🙂

  13. Krista, great minds! I’ve got Pete Earley’s Wtsec on my TBR, too! (Of course it’s been there for a few years now…but it’s there!)

  14. Definitely a down home, small town girl here. I can just relate better to the characters since I’ve never traveled outside of the U.S.A. When I have traveled to large cities (New York, Chicago, L.A.) a little bit goes a long way. I grew up in a small town (now a country gal) and the best part was everyone knew each other. We might argue and fuss at each other but, no one would stand by and let something bad happen. My brothers, friends and I were truly raised by a village along with wonderful parents. That’s why I can envision the horror the small town heroes and heroines feel knowing someone they most likely consider a friend is a murderer.

    Disclaimer: not that I haven’t dreamed of visiting Italy and having a hot, buff Italian man in nothing but an apron serving me fettucine, pizza and kisses!

    Look forward to reading your books and thanks for introducing yourself Ella

    • Hi Julie, you’re so right. Small towns definitely have advantages. The folks in Midnight, Alabama love to gossip about each other and there are some bad eggs, but they’re good at banding together when one of their own is threatened.

      LOL Who hasn’t had that hot Italian dream? 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy my Ella Grace books.

  15. They are both awesome. I really like the downhome flair, smaller towns are pretty cool

    • Thanks, Donnas1. Yes, smaller towns can definitely be cool and fun, especially when the town is made up of a lot of interesting and unique characters.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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