Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Author Guest Post: Ellen Byerrum, Author of Death on Heels

In association with Chick Lit Plus, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Ellen Byerrum, author of Death on Heels!

She Dresses Better Than I Do
By Ellen Byerrum

What is it like to live with a fictitious character who has a better wardrobe than I do?

It can be tricky. You really shouldn't be jealous of someone who doesn't exist. Especially someone you created! Even if she has inherited a trunk full of fabulous vintage clothes, patterns and fabrics dating from the 1930 and 1940s, and they all fit perfectly. Even if she can waltz over to her closet and find an adorable outfit appropriate to every occasion, while you just stand there and lament that you have nothing to wear. 

But I do get to dwell periodically in the make-believe land where  that amazing trunk and closet live, and I am flattered when people ask if the trunk is real and whether I too have inherited a trunk of fabulous vintage styles from a wonderful great aunt. I have had some lovely great aunts, but none quite like my heroine's Great Aunt Mimi, who left her that seemingly bottomless and almost magical trunk.

My character is Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington, D.C., The City Fashion Forgot. I write the Crime of Fashion mysteries, starring a sleuth who solves crime with fashion clues in a place where murder and social commentary dance cheek to cheek with a pratfall.

Lacey has what I call ExtraFashionary Perception (EFP for short). Every outfit tells a story, especially for D.C. reporter Lacey, who can tell at a glance the lawyers, the lobbyists, and the P-WIPS ("Powerful Women In Pearls"). 

Smithsonian is a reporter who doesn't get the respect she deserves, because she writes about fashion. She has a gift for the nuances of style, but she'd rather be on a "hard news" beat. But life has a funny way of rewarding all of us. Hard news comes to Lacey when murder happens and she can use her EFP to help solve the crime. 

When Lacey is not parsing the meaning of a murdered stylist's savage haircut or what happened to a young female haute couture designer who disappeared during WWII, she issues snarky style advice in her Crimes of Fashion and Fashion Bites columns, such as: Never wear pink to testify before the Special Prosecutor. She counsels Washington, D.C., residents to: Ask Not For Whom the Scandal Tolls - Get That Makeover Now. And she offers shopping help for the Prematurely Serious. 

We all share the ability to decipher personalities and stories from personal style, though some of us may be better than others. This fashion-clue capacity is fun, instinctive, and might even protect us in times of danger. Most of us can probably tell a terrorist from a lobbyist at a glance. So what has Lacey taught me? To really appreciate the love and care that goes into crafting an amazing dress, suit or outfit.

In the course of researching the books, I've learned a lot about vintage fashions and I have my own small collection. I appreciate that the clothes that are still available today were the better clothes people had. I like to believe that the original owner sometimes left some of their spirit in the beautiful things they loved to wear. 

Every book presents a challenge. I interview people and research subjects far beyond the latest fashion fads and fancies that clutter the runways at Fashion Weeks. A few years ago I heard the last velvet factory on Virginia was soon closing, I was stunned. I took time off work to tour the factory and interview the manager of the plant for the book that became Shot Through Velvet. He showed me the large sharp blades that sliced the velvet, the sharp teeth of the machines that grabbed the material onto spools, and the huge vats where the spools of fabric were dyed. The machinery vividly suggested many rather horrible ways that someone could die (or be killed) there. And the economic desperation of a large company closing down, in a small town already hurt by the recession, stirred visions for me of the generations of people who had worked there - and their possible motive for murder.

In my latest book, Death on Heels, Lacey's ex-boyfriend is accused of murdering three women, all found barefoot on lonely country roads. To prove him innocent, Lacey must leave her comfort zone (and the District of Columbia) to travel back to Sagebrush, Colorado, where she cut her teeth as a cub reporter. With a vicious killer on her trail, and caught between two men, the one she loves and the one she used to love, Lacey finds herself facing a whole new - and potentially fatal - frontier for this fashion reporter. 

Along the way, I had to learn a lot more about cowboy boots. I revisited the small town where I had my first reporting job, I tramped through miles of dusty sagebrush, and I made friends with a wild horse who wanted to follow me home.  

Like Lacey, I believe that what we choose to wear always tells stories about who we are. In my fiction I just try to make those stories entertaining and compelling. 

Thank you so much for letting me visit here today.

About The Author:

Ellen Byerrum writes the popular Crime of Fashion mysteries, set in bustling Washington, D.C., The City That Fashion Forgot. Featuring style sleuth Lacey Smithsonian, who solves crimes with fashion clues, the eighth book, Death on Heels, takes Lacey out of her comfort zone and into the Wile West where she confronts her past and an old boyfriend who is accused of murder.

While researching fashion, Byerrum has collected her own assortment of 1940s vintage dresses and suits, and the occasional accessory, but laments her lack of closet space. She has been a D.C. news reporter in Washington, a playwright, and holds a Virginia P.I. registration. Although she currently resides in Denver, fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian will continue to be based in Washington, D.C.

Byerrum is currently at work on the ninth book in the Crime of Fashion series, Veiled Revenge. You can find more about Ellen on her Website or on Facebook.

Mystery Booksellers Association (IMBA)
Ellen Byerrum's Death on Heels Tour Page on Chick Lit Plus

BUY THE BOOK: Death on Heels

Book Description: Death on Heels

When fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian moved to Washington, D.C., from rugged, small town Sagebrush, Colorado, she thought she'd never look back. But when her former boyfriend, cattle rancher Cole Tucker, is arrested for the murders of three women, Lacey digs her cowboy boots out of her closet and hops on the next plane.

She is certain of Tucker's innocence, until he abducts her during a daring courthouse escape. Is Tucker capable of murder too? Or is there a larger conspiracy in the small town? Lacey needs to rustle up all the help she can get for this case before her old flame is snuffed out for good ...

* Two Virtual Tour Contests To Enter*

To enter the contest, click on the above link and post a comment on Ellen Byerrum's Death on Heels Tour Page on Chick Lit Plus to win a $10 Amazon gift card! If you purchase your copy of Death on Heels by April 2nd and send your receipt to , you will get five (5) bonus entries! 

Death on Heels Book Giveaway Contest!

Author Ellen Byerrum will be giving away one (1) print copy of Death on Heels on each of the blog stops during her virtual book tour. To enter the contest, post a comment below, and include your name and email address. The winner of the print copy of Death on Heels will be chosen on April 2nd, the last day of her virtual book tour. The winner will be chosen using number generator. The winner will receive the print copy of the novel by the author's publisher. 


  1. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. sounds like an interesting book. Look forward to reading it.

  3. It's been a pleasure to visit today! Thank you for the opportunity to window-shop for Lacey in my head.

  4. Thank you Samantha and Ellen for the opportunity to host this virtual book event.

    Ellen - great author guest post, and I really enjoyed reading Death on Heels.

    Thank you Frank and Lishie for the comments! :)