Kindle Author Interview: Ellis Vidler

Ellis Vidler, co-author of The Peeper, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Peeper?

ELLIS VIDLER: The Peeper is a suspense novel that’s strong on police procedural—after all, my co-author spent 40 years as a LEO. It’s a tale of murder with some adult situations and language. T Elliott Cash is an unlikely hero. He’s a sweet but lonely young man who searches for “friends” in dorm windows. He finds more than he expected when he witnesses the murder of a coed. In trying to do the right thing, he becomes a target himself.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you create and maintain dramatic tension?

ELLIS VIDLER: If something’s going smoothly for the characters, trip them up. We tried to maintain the action and conflict, with detectives Sam and Kay and their screwed-up personal lives and baggage. And then there’s Jeremy, Elliott’s best friend. Does it matter that he only shows himself to Elliott?

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

ELLIS VIDLER: Jim had the final word on the males and I did on the females. But we knew them all well. As things got tougher, they seem to grow on their own. Each has something to overcome—or not. They always had distinct personalities. Sam is a veteran and Kay’s a rookie. Elliott is just...well, Elliott. In spite of some bad habits, he’s a charmer.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

ELLIS VIDLER: Anyone who likes darker crime novels with a touch of romance and police action. It’s definitely not a cozy.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

ELLIS VIDLER: I’ve been writing in some form for years. My first mystery, Haunting Refrain, was published by Silver Dagger. This is Chris’s first published novel. He didn’t start writing until he retired, but he has a thousand stories—funny, sad, terrible—he has them all.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

ELLIS VIDLER: I’m a compulsive rewriter. I start with yesterday’s work and redo it, then go on. Chris does it all in his head and then puts it down, finished.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

ELLIS VIDLER: There are so many, from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Tolkien to Robert Crais. I met Nora Roberts at a conference—she’s inspiring. Chris likes Michael Connelly.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

ELLIS VIDLER: If it could only be one, then Beach Music by Pat Conroy. But there are many.

DAVID WISEHART: How did you create your cover?

ELLIS VIDLER: I had the idea from the beginning. I took the photos and played around in Picasa and Photoshop Elements (an old version) till we both liked it.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

ELLIS VIDLER: Through our websites and a blog, and I belong to several lists. Mostly it’s word of mouth. Chris’s police friends spread the word too. I need to do more with all that Amazon offers.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

ELLIS VIDLER: I’ve been an Amazon fan since they started, and I love e-books. There’s room for print and electronic books, but e-books are here to stay. And Kindle’s dtp format is very user-friendly. We had no problems at all. It’s a good deal for writers.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

ELLIS VIDLER: Make sure you have a good story and that it’s well-edited. Keep it professional. Read the directions and do what they say. It works.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Upon retiring from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Jim Christopher turned his energies to writing what he knows best—crime. Then he met Vidler, a published author, and they began collaborating. “After forty years of police reports, I like the freedom of fiction. You create characters, plan the crime, and then go about solving it.”
Jim Christopher and Ellis Vidler. The Peeper, July 2010, is available through For more information, visit:

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