Wednesday, August 31, 2011


My guest is historical romance author, Mary Ellen Dennis. Mary Ellen has two books out this month. The featured book, The Greatest Love on Earth and a reissue by Sourcebooks, The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter. You can read a bit about that one at the end of the article. 

Mary Ellen seems a bit conflicted, even a dual personality--no worries, she's perfectly safe--but I'll let her explain that to you...

Can two authors share one office and computer?

Sure they can, if they are the same person :-)

Denise [Deni] Dietz and Mary Ellen Dennis share one room, one desk, one computer, and one keyboard. Deni writes mysteries that have no socially redeeming values whatsoever. They are meant only to entertain. Mary Ellen writes historical fiction that is ageless. The romance in both genres is supplied…or maybe a better word would be inspired…by their mutual best friend, lover and husband, novelist Gordon Aalborg. Gordon's office is upstairs, in the loft, and he sends Deni emails suggesting they meet for coffee. Meanwhile, his photo graces the desk she shares with her alter-ego.

Deni met Gordon, aka Harlequin romance author Victoria Gordon, on-line through an authors’ loop. Gordon was living in Australia, Deni lived in Colorado. They decided to collaborate on a romantic suspense and fell in love, sight unseen. Gordon asked Deni to marry him. She replied, “I think I should meet you face-to-face, first.” He described his house, which included a guest bedroom, and invited her to visit him in Tasmania. She said she had a strict book deadline. He said, “Silly wench, I have a computer.” So Deni hopped a plane to the land of Kangaroos, Koalas, and Hugh Jackman. She knew that she and Gordon were soul mates. She hoped there’d be “chemistry,” and there was. Sparks flew. Almost immediately, Deni and Gordon sold up, packed up, and bought a cottage on Vancouver Island. They were married at a writers conference and will celebrate their 11th anniversary this October. Deni says, “You’ve never been romanced until you’ve been romanced by a romance author.”

Deni and Mary Ellen both think writing should be fun as well as creative, so the items on their computer desk tend to make them smile. First and foremost, one's gaze is drawn to a Gumby-like statue of Edgar Allen Poe, looming over a red Staples "That was easy" button.

Deni has a wonderful photo of her actress sister, Eileen Dietz ( ), who played the possession scenes—and The Demon—in The Exorcist. Eileen inspired Deni to write FIFTY CENTS FOR YOUR SOUL, a somewhat supernatural novel that revolves around events that occurred during the filming of The Exorcist—a novel that Publishers Weekly called "Hollywood noir."

Deni likes to listen to show music. On her side of the computer desk she has a stack of CDs that include Les Mis, Once Upon a Mattress, Candide, Phantom of the Opera, and a dozen other Broadway shows (she hopes someday to appear on Jeopardy and hit the Broadway Musicals category). She also has the Dixie Chicks, Harry Chapin and Barbra Streisand. Mary Ellen prefers Celtic music and drove Deni daft by listening non-stop to Loreena McKenna's "The Highwayman" while writing THE LANDLORD’S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER.

Above the computer desk there’s a framed poster of Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, looking just like Rand, Mary Ellen’s hero in “Landlord.” There is also a circus poster of a bareback rider on a white horse, inspiration for Mary Ellen’s THE GREATEST LOVE ON EARTH.

Deni’s stuffed "deadline vulture" perches on top of the modem. She named it Michael Seidman after her first editor. Deni and Mary Ellen share a heavy rock, ostensibly a paperweight, that has CREATE chiseled on its surface. They also share a small ceramic tortoise. It reminds them that if you only write one page a day, by the end of the year you'll have written a book. Both write more than one page a day. Deni owns a small ceramic frog in a witch’s hat, seated behind a crystal ball. The frog inspires her to write TOE OF FROG (aka "The DaVinci Toad"), her sequel to her romantic mystery, EYE OF NEWT, starring reluctant witch Sydney St. Charles. In “Frog” readers will meet a “reincarnated Rottweiler” who is afraid of doorbells and songs from the 1970s.

One wall of the office is devoted to Deni and Mary Ellen’s book covers. In the place of honor are the covers for THE LANDLORD’S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER and THE GREATEST LOVE ON EARTH. Don’t you agree that they are both beautiful covers? In fact, the drop-dead gorgeous highwayman depicted on “Landlord” won a Romantic Times KISS (Knight in Shining Silver) contest.

Finally, Mary Ellen collects angels. Her favorite angel holds a piece of paper with a Luciano de Crescenzo quote: "We are each of us angels with only one wing and we can only fly by embracing each other."

  • What is your favorite piece of furniture, or picture, or keepsake—something that sets off a fun memory or begins a new memory?

The Greatest Love On Earth—Mary Ellen Dennis. Available now

He's fearless, except when it comes to Calliope Kelley...

Nothing could shake the courage of lion tamer Brian O'Connor, until the circus is threatened and the love of his life deserts him...

Danger, drama, dazzling excitement are her world...

Bold, beautiful Calliope Kelley would jump through flaming hoops to protect her father's circus. But when disaster strikes and Calliope loses everything, she knows she must build brand new dreams... 
Torn apart and betrothed to others, a twist of fate brings Brian and Calliope back under the bigtop, where together they'll walk the high-wire to see if great loves turn to ashes or rekindle to burn brightly forever...Excerpt

BUY: Amazon,, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million  Available in ebook and print

Former singer/actress and perennial rule-breaker Mary Ellen Dennis is the author of several award-winning historical romance novels and culinary mysteries and is growing her audience for both. She is married to novelist Gordon Aalborg (aka Victoria Gordon), whom she met online through a writer's group; they live on Vancouver Island. She has two books in stores this month, released by Sourcebooks Casablanca: The Greatest Love on Earth—set in the exotic world of a 19th century circus and sweeps readers into death-defying feats, dangerous rivalries, and a love that has all the thrills and romance of the greatest show on earth., and a reissue of The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter: A fast-paced and passionate retelling of the story of two timeless lovers who would die for each other. If only they didn’t have to. This gorgeous romance gives the poem a whole new depth and a happy ending. 

For more information, please visit



~Sia McKye~ said...

Mary Ellen, welcome to Over Coffee. Pull up a chair and get comfortable.

It still tickles my funny bone when I read about your own romance. :-)

jeff7salter said...

So which writer lady did the writer guy from Australia marry?
Or did he marry both?
Is he at times more in live with Deni than with Mary Ellen? Vice Versa?
Do they ever argue over him?
Gang up against him?
The mind ponders these things.

Hilary said...

Hi Sia and MaryEllen .. such a fun real life story .. great to read .. and I'm sure their books are good reads too ... interesting to find out about .. Cheers Hilary

Jo said...

Fascinates me, one from NZ, one from USA and they end up in Canada? One wonders why?

I keep small stuffed animals around my computer, no memories, I just like them. Mostly endangered species.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I have a stuffed Dragon, Jo. All a gorgeous blue with sparkly silver wings. It's a writing dragon. It will always bear memories of visiting my girlfriend in Ohio and buying it in Barnes & Noble.

I'm so tired today. I have no energy. Just want to crawl into bed and sleep, except I have to leave in a bit to do errands. So sleep will have to wait until later. Darn it.

Isis Rushdan said...

Married at a Writer's Conference, wow! Happy upcoming anniversary.

jowake said...

I've never found a stuffed dragon I liked although I know several people who have great ones.

Try and get to bed early that will help.

Sheila Deeth said...

This was fun, and what a fascinating romance! I'm looking round, wondering if there's anything cool near my desk, but mostly it's stuff I haven't put away, or stuff my husband and son haven't put away since I share the space with them... and maybe that's good... I like sharing their lives.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hilary, I enjoyed the story too! Hope all is well with your mum.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, I slept good last night but I'm still fighting off this staph infection so my reserves are really, really low. I'll be getting to bed early tonight, especially since they put me on yet another round of high powered antibiotics. This staph is resistant MRSA.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now that was funny! Interesting they each have their own personality.

Anonymous said...

First, please forgive the "Anonymous." For some reason that's the only way I can post.

Sia, thanks for letting me share your life.

Jeff, my Aussie husband met me as Deni and we collaborated on a book called FINDING BESS (by Victoria Gordon). It came out in 2005 and is now at Kindle. For the record, Deni doesn't share her Gordo with *anyone*!

For those who might want to "meet" him, his website is

Jo, Gordon lived in Australia for 20+ years, but was born in Canada. His mum was ailing. We decided to live in Canada so we could take care of her. I did love Tasmania, which has lots and lots (and lots) of sheep.

Thanks for your comments, everybody, and please feel better, Sia.

Mary Ellen Dennis / Deni Dietz

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mary Ellen, sometimes that happens with blogs. I dunno why. I usually tell everyone, if you can't get on under your internet ID, come in as anonymous and sign your name. It's why I keep the anonymous setting.

You live in a pretty part of Canada.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Vancouver Island is beautiful, but my soul resides in Colorado, the setting for my 1875 circus historical, THE GREATEST LOVE ON EARTH, and many of the Denise Dietz mysteries.

Mary Ellen Dennis

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh, I love Colorado.

I looked up your hubs when I was putting up this article both as Victoria and otherwise. :-)

Talli Roland said...

What a fun post!

Hm, favourite thing? I have a camel on my desk from Cairo (well, a metallic model of one!). I always smile when I look at it.