Interview and Give Away with Indie Author Ellen Seltz

Today with my friend Ellen Seltz, we’ll get to talk a little more about the fun part of writing: the storytelling. At the end of the interview, feel free to ask Ellen Seltz a question, or tell her what your favorite kind of mystery is for a chance to win a Kindle copy of MR. MOTLLEY GETS HIS MAN.


How long have you been writing?

I’ve actually been writing, off and on, for about twenty years, primarily for the stage. Back in the mid-1990’s (when Christy and I were roommates, y’all!) I started out writing comedy sketches for a couple of small theater troupes. I’ve also written several screenplays, done script-doctoring for animation and independent film, and written the libretto for a children’s musical. The great thing about writing for performance is that you become attuned to pace, scene structure, and the characters’ voices.


Is Mr. Mottley Gets His Man your first novel? What drew you to him?

Yes, it’s my first foray into narrative fiction.  It sounds corny, but I literally dreamed Mottley up.  ‘Strewth!

 I love Golden Age mysteries, and about a year ago, had been on a jag of reading Sayers, Marsh, Christie, Allingham…and watching the PBS adaptations of Poirot and Campion. I hardly ever remember dreams, but this one stuck with  me – just a fragment of a very dramatic scene featuring this dashing, fair-haired detective. At first, I thought it might work up as a spoof, or a fanfiction. But it grew into something that seemed to have legs. So I tried making Mottley into a sort of Bionic Man of classic detectives – stronger, faster, cooler, quirkier, more derring-do. The most fun part, for me, is that I’ve given him a dreadful case of Adult ADHD and then stuck him in the rigid aristocratic system of 1930’s London. As a result, I get lots of fun writing his outre behavior. We also skip all the boring police procedural bits and only write the parts Mottley is interested in. He can’t be bothered to show up, otherwise.

Final Cover small- MMGHM

Buy Link on Amazon Mr. Mottley Gets His Man

What do you love most about cozy mysteries? Why?

I grew up reading my parents’ Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers mysteries, and it was something my family with very disparate tastes all enjoyed, so there’s nostalgia there. In terms of the stories themselves, I like the fact that they are plot-driven. I’m not a very good visualizer; I’m an auditory and kinesthetic processor, so I like dialogue and stuff happening. I like to see character and relationships played out in behavior.

 Puzzle, intrigue and surprise always spark me, but I absolutely must connect with the characters. I am too old to spend hours of my life hanging around with people I don’t like! So many contemporary thrillers and mysteries seem to be fascinated with the inner workings of a villain, or have a main character so deeply flawed that I just don’t enjoy spending time with them. I like a rule-breaker and don’t expect characters to be perfect (Edmund Mottley certainly isn’t), but if the main character won’t even try to be a good person, in some value system I can recognize, then I get bored and turned-off. Being bad is easy. Trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation is interesting.

There are a certain number of meta-stories that speak to us deeply, and different people are drawn to certain themes more than others. There’s the Quest for Self; there’s the Quest for Love, and so forth. Mysteries are an incarnation of the Battle Between Good and Evil, in which brains beat brawn and justice will be done in the end. In my particular cosmology, it helps if the side of Right and Justice is also heaps of fun.

Who is your favorite, Mr. Mottley or his hot valet?

Wow! That’s a hard question, because I see them so much as a pair. If I say, “Both,” you’ll get the wrong idea ; ). I’m going to say my boy Edmund Mottley.

And why?

Baker the valet is definitely better-looking and much, much smoother with the ladies. He’s also a total hoot to write because of his very strong and pragmatic point of view. He’s always got an agenda, and he is immune to distraction, discouragement, or even flat rejection. He just keeps coming, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done. In musical terms, he’s basic three-chord rock’n’roll.

Mottley, on the other hand, has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He’s a bit of a shape-shifter. He looks kind of nebbishy until he unleashes his knee-melting smile. His mind is always on the move. He’s playful, esoteric, curious, challenging, and self-deprecating. He is so far from fitting the mold, he creates his own context and expects other people to adapt to it. He’s Jazz.

 While I enjoy good rock’n’roll as much as the next girl, it’s Jazz that keeps me coming back for more.

2 Responses to “Interview and Give Away with Indie Author Ellen Seltz

  • I love all of those classics! I’m on an Allingham jag right now and am reminded of Campion in your description of Mr. Mottley. Can’t wait to read your book and see how they line up!

  • Thanks! I look forward to your feedback! I am releasing a Christmas short-story today for my email subscribers, if you want to get on the list just pop by my site.

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