About the Author
Ellen Larson grew up in Haworth, New Jersey, the setting of this her first novel, but she is quick to point out that while she wanted to be true to the locale, Hatch is definitely not autobiographical. "I set the book in Bergen County because I love the town where I grew up--the oak trees and the dogwoods and the big wooden houses. I tried to catch the feel of Haworth, although my recreation is probably rose-tinted and old-fashioned. Not surprising, since in reality I wrote most of the book one hot summer in Cairo with only a Hagstrom Bergen County road map and 30 year old memories to guide me. That's probably why there are so many streets mentioned in the book--another mystery solved!"
While she is passionately fond of mystery writing, the author doesn't care to be categorized by genre. "I like to read stories that work on more than one level, so that's what I try to write. Actually, I think five or six levels is about right...." Despite having dropped out of Northern Valley Regional High School about 30 years ago, Larson has gone on to earn an MA in humanities from California State University, and admits that she adores complexity and has a hopelessly analytical mind. "Fortunately that's a perfect combination for writing mysteries. But my stuff will never get too obscure, because I'm a complete child when it comes to hiding clues in every other paragraph, the more blatant the better. That's where the 'mini-mystery' idea comes from--the petnapper subplot in Hatch. I wanted to see how obvious I could get. I think I broke a record...."
Upon leaving New Jersey at the age of 20, Larson lived for many years in the town of Salem, in Upstate New York, right against the Vermont border. Her first short story appeared in Yankee Magazine, and she spent some years as a part-time theater critic for a local weekly. "I am more attached to mountains and hollows of Salem than to any other place on Earth. They are what I see when I close my eyes at night, no matter where I am. Actually, I am trying to work out a Washington County connection for later books in the NJ Mystery series, so that I can have the fun of writing about that area, too. Like Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin trekking up to Westchester County for occasional adventures."
Locales will not be a problem for this author. She has traveled extensively since leaving Salem at the age of 33, most notably to Syria, Nepal, and Japan. "Yeah, weird, since I am essentially a homebody. But when I go...I go." These days, she calls her two-bedroom apartment in a suburb of Cairo, home. She has lived overseas for twelve years, for three years in London, England, and in Egypt for the past nine. She is a successful freelance writer and editor, dividing her time between her commercial clients (mostly in the field of agricultural development) and her fiction writing. She is currently (summer 1999) finishing the sequel to Hatch, promised for June 2000, and working on the second volume of a science fiction trilogy.