Episode 22: Ellen Byron

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Today's guest is the multi-talented Ellen Byron. Her Cajun Country Mysteries are charming, funny and lightly romantic -- the perfect cozy capers to keep you turning the pages. The series is set in Louisiana, a state Ellen loves. As this interview goes live, Louisiana faces a massive natural disaster with deadly flooding. For people who want to help, Ellen suggests the Red Cross. Here are pictures from the first week of the flood, and Charity Navigator's view of top charities working the crisis. Ellen's passion for Louisiana comes through in her writing and the world she creates for her heroine, Maggie. She named one of her characters after her friend Gaynell Bourgeois Moore (here she is on YouTube singing The Nascar Blues and here's her very own CD!) Ellen also talks about a Facebook page she loves, New Orleans Plantation Country, and mentions two real plantations, Houmas House Plantation and Ashland-Belle Helene. I give a shout-out to one of the TV series she worked on, Maybe It's Me, which (criminally!) is not available on DVD. Yet. I continue to hold out hope. You can check out her plays, Graceland and Asleep on the Wind, and if, like me, you are a fan of her Cajun Country Mysteries, you can pre-order Body on the Bayou, which comes out on September 13th. The delightful first book in the series, Plantation Shudders, was nominated for an Agatha, a Daphne, and a Lefty (for best humorous mystery). As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here is the transcript. Enjoy! Transcript of Interview with Ellen Byron. Laura Brennan: My guest today is multitalented writer Ellen Byron. Ellen has written over 200 magazine articles, her published plays include the award-winning Graceland, and her many television series include "Just Shoot Me," "Wings," and “Maybe It’s Me,” one of my all-time favorite sitcoms. Most of all, she is the author of the Cajun Country Mysteries, set in Louisiana. Ellen, thank you for joining me. Ellen Byron: Thank you for having me. LB: You are such a prolific writer! Articles and books and plays and television -- which came first? Where did you start? EB: I started writing plays. I actually started as an actress, quote unquote. Because it feels so silly to say that now. Got my union card doing a commercial while I was in college. I ended up writing a play that was inspired by my friends and I, I cast my friends in their roles and none of them did a really good job of playing themselves. And after that I took a class at Ensemble Studio Theater in playwriting because I'd never studied it. I wrote one play there and then I wrote Graceland. And then I kept writing plays, but I couldn't support myself that way so I started writing freelance magazine articles. And the playwriting path was so torturous in terms of readings and readings and readings until you got productions, that I remember I was on the phone with the man who ran the workshop at Circle Rep Theater, which was a great theater in New York that is no longer in existence, sadly. I was taking notes from him, and I remember the exact moment when I thought, you know, if I'm going to take this many notes, do this many rewrites, someone should be paying me for it. And that's when I decided to switch over to TV. LB: So were you in New York at the time? EB: Yes. I'm from New York, I went to school in Louisiana, Tulane. But I didn't really want to leave New York because I love New York, it's really where my soul is. But unfortunately there are way more TV options in California than in New York so in 1990 I made the move to Los Angeles. Kicking and screaming. LB: I totally understand. Especially, there is such a culture difference between New York and Los Angeles. EB: Yes. LB: If someone hasn't yet picked up your series, could you give me just a brief overview of what launched the series? EB: Maggie Crozat, she is an artist and she went to school in New York. And she had a boyfriend,

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