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Inspiring Women of North Carolina: Ellery Adams

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Ellery Adam books.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling mystery author Ellery Adams has written over thirty novels. Her latest titles are The Book of Candlelight and Murder in the Storybook Cottage. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, an anesthesiologist, two teenagers, and three rescue cats. Fortunately, I got the chance to pick Ellery's brain and learn more about her writing process:

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes, always. I started selling my stories at a very early age. I’d write picture books for the girls on my street or in my class at school. For a quarter, I’d turn them into characters who could ride flying horses, rule over magical realms, solve crimes, or take down the class bully using wit and humor. I’ve always loved to read and write. That love has continued to grow over time.

What are your books about?

I write mysteries featuring strong, smart, and flawed women. My female characters are business owners, booklovers, community leaders. They have a penchant for book clubs and baked goods. I create fictional small towns that ooze with charm but are plagued by the occasional murder. Fueled by a desire for justice, my female leads recruit loyal friends and loving family members to help right the town’s wrongs. The Secret, Book, and Scone Society novels have been called a love letter to readers because of all the book titles and recommendations made by my main character, Nora Pennington. This series is set in North Carolina and is a popular pick for book groups. My Book Retreat mysteries are the perfect escapist reads for those who prefer literary intrigue and a little romance in their mysteries.

When did you write your first book?

I wrote my first book in 2005 after moving from North Carolina to Richmond. I was really homesick and wanted to write about North Carolina art pottery as well as the people and places I missed.

What made you start writing mystery?

I chose mystery because I love jigsaw puzzles, and mystery novels are basically puzzles in which the pieces are scattered. Once the reader assembles the pieces, the picture becomes clear.

Are there any special rituals you have or places you go that inspire your writing?

I write from my home in Chapel Hill. Like most introverts, my home is my haven, and I’ve tried to give it a warm, cozy, and peaceful feel. I like my spaces to have lots of light, soft blankets or pillows, unique art, and plants. At least one of our cats keep me company while I work. Deer roam the woods behind our house, and birds flit through the trees and bushes. On top of all this, the kitchen is close, which means coffee is readily available. Drinking coffee or tea has always been a part of my daily writing ritual.

What would you say to an aspiring writer?

If you have a story to tell, fight for that story. Thousands of people claim to have a book in their head, but that’s usually where it stays unless that person puts a certain number of words on paper every day. Those words don’t have to be perfectly crafted. Keep writing and worry about editing later. The more you write, the more you’ll learn to self-edit as you proceed. Anyone can be a writer with the right mix of discipline, determination, and large doses of caffeine. It won’t be easy. I get that. Finding the time to write while balancing family responsibilities, work, and other activities is a challenge, but local writer’s groups or online communities will help you stay on track.

Ellery's latest book was just released on April 28th, 2020. Murder in the Storybook Cottage takes place in Storyton Hall, Virginia. Storyton is a top travel destination for book lovers and the perfect spot for literary events. But as a children’s book publisher hosts a gathering there, some folks aren’t going to live—happily ever after or otherwise...

A woman dressed like Little Red Riding Hood is found dead with a rare and valuable copy of Grimms’ Fairy Tales in her basket. Not long after, a second victim is killed, with yet another treasure nearby—a volume by Hans Christian Andersen worth thousands of dollars. It looks like a big bad wolf may be lurking among the guests, and Jane can’t just wait for a handsome prince to come to the rescue.

You can purchase Murder in the Storybook Cottage here.

For more information on Ellery’s novels, including book club reader’s guides and recommended book lists, please visit and follow her on Instagram as @elleryadams or on Facebook under Ellery Adams Author.