A Fashionable Murder

Ellen Byerrum is fantastic.  She’s a novelist, playwright, reporter, Washington journalist, and a graduate of private investigator school in Virginia. Her Crime of Fashion mysteries star a savvy, stylish female sleuth named Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington D.C.

Her books are fun, sassy and unexpected.  No wonder two of them have been made into Lifetime movies!

Below: Lacey Smithsonian and the ladies of

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 8.49.07 PM

From left: Katharine Isabelle (Lacey’s sister Cherise), Sadie LeBlanc (Stella Lake), Maggie Lawson (Lacey), Mary McDonnell (Lacey’s mother Rose), Sarah Edmondson (Brooke Barton).

Ellen sat down with me to talk about Washington style (which she calls “The City Fashion Forgot”), the stress of Cherry Blossom season, and a haunted Russian shawl inspired by the Hillwood Museum collection.

(If you cannot view the video, please update your Adobe.  For better quality, click the YouTube link on the bottom right of the video frame and then, once on YouTube, adjust resolution by clicking on the little tool cog wheel in the right bottom corner.)

Here is a blurb about Ellen’s latest book, Veiled Revenge


Washington, D.C., fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian has always believed clothes can be magical, but she’s never thought they can be cursed. Until now. Lacey’s best friend, Stella, is finally getting married, and at her bachelorette party, fellow bridesmaid—and fortune-teller—Marie Largesse arrives with a stunning Russian shawl. A shawl, Marie warns, that can either bless or curse the wearer. When a party crasher who mocks the shawl is found dead the next day, the other guests fear the curse has been unleashed. But Lacey has her doubts, and she must employ all her Extra-Fashionary Perception to capture a villain who has vowed that nobody at this wedding will live happily ever after….

So, what do you think? Is Washington, D.C. the least fashionable city on earth or do you have your own nominee for that distinction?  What role do you think fashion plays in developing a character?  (To leave a comment please click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom.)


About Diana Belchase

I am an author, who won the Golden Heart for my suspense novel "The Spy in the Mirror" and was a Golden Heart finalist, once again, for my second novel, "The Spy in the Harem." I am also a triple Daphne Du Maurier finalist for three other books. Please follow me at my website: TopSecretWashington.com, or friend/follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or on my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/DianaBelchase See you there!

Posted on February 18, 2014, in Author Interview, Diana Belchase and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Welcome to K&T, Ellen, it’s great to meet you. I adore your covers and think your premise is fabulous! What female wouldn’t pick up a novel about fashion and murder? 🙂

    Would you consider your writing style that of the presumed-dead-but-very-present chick lit?

    As for Diana’s question: I haven’t been to Washington enough to form an opinion about fashion sense. I know when I lived in Boston anything went together (as long as it kept you warm.) Here in Houston we put on high heels and full makeup to go grocery shopping. It’s an oil thing carried over from the 80’s program Dallas. That and Texas Big Hair. You can imagine how well I fit in (snort.)

    I wish you the best of success and congratulations on the Lifetime movies!!

    • I always thought it was funny when friends used to make fun of the wind in the hair in every shot in Dallas. When we lived there it was very windy every single day. So the wind thing was a reality.

      I loved the idea of being well dressed and not feeling that it was a bad thing. Though, I was surprised to find out that anyone wearing open toed shoes without a polish manicure was considered trashy.

      But, your comment was so wrong. You, who look like a glamorous Barbie doll — so elegant and beautiful — would fit in anywhere.

      Big hugs!

  2. What a wonderful premise for a series of books! I can’t wait to read them. 🙂
    I do agree that Washington DC is fashionably challenged, but I think part of that is due to the sheer number of tourists you see everywhere who are dressed casually in sneakers and jeans or shorts.

    And I loved hearing about the shawl inspired by the Hillwood Museum. That is my absolutely favorite museum in the entire city.

    • Ha ha, it used to be our clothes that identified us as American tourists. Guess what? Now it’s our teeth! Only Americans have super straight super duper white teeth.

      I adore Hillwood, too. We should do a tour with the K&T girls some time soon.

  3. Thank you, Sarah, it is a thrill to be here and meet you today. I try not to put labels on my writing and have always thought of it as humorous or satirical mystery, but that being said, I take no offense at being called chick lit.

    I haven’t spent much time in Houston though I’ve been to San Antonio and Austin, but I applaud anyone who has the moxie to pull themselves together for the sake of style. But style can be anything as long as it suits the person. I am currently living in Denver, where dressing up can mean putting on your best fleece. And that is definitely not me!

  4. Sharon, you are so right about tourists. Sometimes, I think when people travel to other places, they give themselves a pass on dressing well. I’m always amused by the busloads of students in day-glo T shirts. But they always clog the Metro and don’t know how to stand on the right. And so glad to hear from another fan of Hillwood. The artifacts and setting are amazing.

  5. Welcome Ellen, thanks for joining us today! And what a fun interview, Diana. Great job as usual. Ellen I can’t say I view DC as fashion challenged since I’m the kind of girl who has “carry a purse that matches my shoes” on her bucket list. I suspect I’m less likely to achieve that goal than any other on the list. I’m from Arizona where we wear shorts to the theater. I’m excited to read one of these wonderful mysteries! I can be vicariously fashionable!

  6. Hi Carey. I’m loving meeting new people. And I have to confess that after moving to Colorado, Washington’s fashion style has risen much in my estimation. And don’t worry about the bucket list, the fashionistas our there say that matchy-matchy is out. I predict however, that it will be back in before long.

    I’m guessing that you mean shorts are worn to the theatre, theatre? And not just the movie theater? Anyway fun to learn new fashion facts. I’m heading out now, but will check back in later. Thanks everyone for having me.

  7. I really hate that we don’t get dressed up for the theater, Carey. It’s like, why have beautiful clothes if there is no place to wear them? I think fashion designers need to create a need to be well dressed if they ever think we’re going to change comfortable for fashionable. Thanks for being here today!

  8. I agree completely, Diana. It used to drive me crazy to see people who didn’t dress up for places like the Kennedy Center. Thanks goodness there were still people who would dress up. I think casual Fridays were the death knell for looking good. We should bring back Dress up Mondays. Or maybe Dress up Wednesdays because hump day can be hard.

  9. Think it depends on the people in the city
    Fashion depends on the type of character

  10. Welcome, Ellen, what a fun premise! I’m one of the fashion-challenged. Actually, I just don’t care enough and my number one criterion is to be comfortable. Maybe it’s because I grew up out west, but I feel dressed up in anything nicer than a pair of jeans. And I avoid heels like the plague. In fact writing conferences are pretty much the only reason I own heels or a dress. I’m sure that says a lot about me. 😉

    I try to be aware of my characters’ clothing choices and make sure they match their personalities. My heroines are often like me, but I’m writing one now who is always perfectly put together and runway-ready and it’s a bit of a challenge.

  11. A haunted Russian shawl! I love it! Ellen, what a fabulous premise! I can’t wait to get started on your series.

    Diana, thanks for inviting Ellen and her EFP channeling sleuth 🙂 to K&T today. As for DC’s style sense, I think we’ve come a long way from the power suits, sensible pumps, and floppy bow ties of the 90s. I always thought Condoleeza Rice set a very fashionable tone when she was Secretary of State.

  12. You’re so right, Gwen, that cities influence fashion and they all have their own distinct styles. That must be why I fled to the East Coast so many years ago. And Krista, I agree that DC has come a ways, and there are always people who have style, as Diana pointed out. Cheers!

  13. So sorry I’m late to the party! Thanks for visiting Kiss and Thrill Ellen! Great interview!

    I’m completely fashion challenged. Like Gwen, I’m a Left Coaster, and we are much more casual here. The two years I lived in DC, I had to buy a new wardrobe for work. (I worked at a large engineering firm, very different from my 4 person office in Seattle.) So I guess I couldn’t even keep up with DC fashion.

  14. You have great Seattle style, Rachel. And you look killer in an evening gown — I’ve seen that first hand.


Thrill us with your wit...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: