Ellyn Bache grew up in Washington, DC, but has spent much of her adult life in the Carolinas. Although she studied English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Maryland, she turned to writing rather than teaching when she was homebound with the two oldest of her four children. She began as a freelance newspaper journalist, publishing hundreds of articles in The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Hagerstown (MD) Morning Herald, Greenville (SC) News, Chicago Tribune, and others over the years. But her primary interest was always in fiction, and after several years of rejections while she taught herself the craft, her first short story appeared in McCall’s. It was followed by others in a wide variety of commercial and literary magazines, ranging from Good Housekeeping and Seventeen to Shenandoah to the Carolina Quarterly. A collection of sixteen of her stories, The Value of Kindness, won the Willa Cather Fiction Prize.
Ellyn’s family moved to Wilmington NC in 1985, where she completed her first novel, Safe Passage, about a family waiting to hear the fate of a son at the site of a terrorist bombing. The novel was later made into a film starring Susan Sarandon and Sam Shepard.
Much of Ellyn’s work is set in the south. Festival in Fire Season is about a destructive forest fire similar to one that devastated parts of Southeastern North Carolina in the late 1980s. The Activist’s Daughter is about college life in North Carolina at the dawn of the civil rights movement. Riggs Park and Daughters of the Sea are set partly on the Wilmington-area beaches.
Ellyn’s most recent novel, The Art of Saying Goodbye, is about a group of women who embark on a powerful journey of transformation while dealing with the illness of a neighbor. A summer 2011 SIBA “Okra Pick” (from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) and later a SIBA Book of the Year Award nominee, it has been widely adopted by book groups.
After more than twenty years in Wilmington, Ellyn now lives in Greenville SC near two of her sons and seven of her thirteen grandchildren.