Interview with Ellyn about Raspberry Sherbet Kisses


– By: Patrick Cobbs , Staff writer , Souderton (PA) Independent, April 25, 2007

Ellyn Bache is sure the leaves were out earlier last year. She remembers because exactly one year ago at this time the novelist moved into her new Franconia home and she was relieved to see them already fully in bloom.

But this year, as the daily walks with her enthusiastic dog Chief have proved, the cold stuck around longer than most North Carolina transplants might like.

But that hasn't stopped her. In a year's time Bache has not only gotten settled in her over-55-community and established weekly day-long Thursday visits with her granddaughter Campbell, who lives in Lederach, she has also managed to publish her seventh novel, "Raspberry Sherbet Kisses," with Harlequin.

Bache moved to the area from Wilmington, N.C., where she lived with her husband Terry since 1985 and raised four children. She had come to the Indian Valley to visit her son Matt and his wife Shelly along with Campbell and her younger brother Connor over the years, and even came up for a test run for the summer in 2004.

And while it probably was not the cause of her move, the death of her husband in 2001 has certainly been a major turning point in her life, one she is still learning to live with. Unexpectedly, the community she has joined through the Harrington Village Social Committee has been a great help in dealing with that.

"When you get to be this age everybody has a sad story. It's been a very nurturing community for that," she said.

She avoided saying what "this age" was exactly, but she did explain that the loss of Terry is still poignant enough to impact the day-to-day. For example, on New Year's Eve she was convinced she would have a bad time at the party at the Club House because of that inevitable moment when everybody else is supposed to kiss. But through an unexpected coincidence she has discovered a circle of women living in the same development, most of whom are also widows.

And sure enough, when that group attended the celebration everyone, even Bache, kicked up their heels and had a great time.

Bache described the new book as "almost a comic novel" and not one that most people would think of when they read the name Harlequin. It has a romance in it, yes, but she doesn't think of it as a "romance novel" per se. And despite having a main character with the rare gift (or affliction) known as synesthesia, where she might be able to taste as well as see colors or smell as well as hear music, the book isn't even really about that.

The central struggle is akin to those at work in most of her books – people trying to deal. Deal with a tragedy as in her first book "Safe Passage," which became a Susan Sarandon movie about a family trying the cope with the loss of a Marine overseas. Or deal with the social and personal aspects of special needs as in the young adult fiction book she co-wrote with her husband in 1999 called "Takedown," about a high school wrestler with epilepsy.

In "Raspberry Sherbet Kisses" the main character must struggle with the tendency to keep her true color-smelling self bottled up lest the people around her think she is "crazy."

For Bache, writing was itself a way to deal in the beginning. It was back when she was raising the first two of her four children while Terry was at work for his construction company.

"I started writing for all the wrong reasons," she said. "I was stuck in this apartment with two children and I thought I had to do something adult."

So she began doing freelance jobs reporting for a local paper in Maryland, where the family then lived. She moved into writing for the building trade publications so she could put her husband's expertise to work and she soon got bigger freelance gigs for the Washington Post. Having those opportunities to publish stories gave her a sturdy identity as a writer that helped her stick with it as her short story submissions kept getting rejected.

Then one day – the same day – she heard back from McCall's about a short story she submitted and from a publisher she had contacted about "Culture Clash," and that's how she got her foot in the door. Since then she has published seven novels and a total of 11 books including the short story collection "The Value of Kindness," which won the Willa Cather Fiction Prize.

This last year in Souderton has been a productive one for Bache. She is getting to know the area and starting to sample all the local traditions. And some of the local scenes are already finding their way into her newest project, a book called "Ribbons for Paisley." It is a much more serious tale about the affects of a woman's tragic affliction with cancer on her circle of close friends. And, yes, there is a romance in it.

Bache will appear at book release party for "Raspberry Sherbet Kisses" April 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Harleysville Books, 674 Main Street, Salford Square in Harleysville.

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