Mary Ellen Hughes

I’ve always loved to write, working on my school newspapers (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) as well as writing stories for my own enjoyment. But it took a while for me to believe I could turn it into a profession. Along the way I got a degree in Medical Technology at Alverno College, worked in Clinical Chemistry at the National Institutes of Health, married and settled in Maryland to raise two children. But writing continued to tug at me, and one day I sent a 12-line humorous verse (with little hope) to The Saturday Evening Post. To my surprise, they bought it! Seeing my work in print with my name next to it in a national magazine was a huge boost and encouraged me to start sending out short stories. Before too long, some of them were actually published, too!

The next step was to write a full length novel, but I still had much to learn. Joining writers groups like the Maryland Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime, helped immensely, along with participating in critique groups. After a few false starts and much re-writing, my first novel, Resort to Murder, was accepted and published by Avalon. Avalon then published my second novel, A Taste of Death, which featured the same protagonist, a young teacher whose vacations tended to become dangerous.

Having two published books to my name caught the interest of an agent, who encouraged me to create the Craft Corner mystery series. Wreath of Deception, String of Lies, and Paper-Thin Alibi were soon published by Berkley Prime Crime. Berkley is also publishing my next series, the Pickled and Preserved mysteries, which begins with The Pickled Piper.

All of this happened, of course, over several years. A 12-line verse is a long way from a 70,000 word novel but it was my first big step towards earning the title of “mystery author.” My journey continues, with ups and downs and the occasional side step, but with plenty of enjoyment and wonderful companions along the way. I’m looking forward with great eagerness to what still lies ahead.