Ellis, Mary Relindes 1960-

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ELLIS, Mary Relindes 1960-

PERSONAL: Middle name is pronounced "Ree-lin-des"; born February 4, 1960, in Glidden, WI; daughter of Harold Conrad and Relindes Catherine (Alexander) Berg. Ethnicity: "White." Education: University of Minnesota, B.A., 1986.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff and Associates, 811 Palmer Rd., Suite AA, Bronxville, NY 10708.

CAREER: Writer. Guest on media programs; gives readings and lectures.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grant from Minnesota State Arts Board, 1995.


The Turtle Warrior (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Work represented in anthologies, including The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994; Bless Me Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood, edited by Amber Coverdale Sumrall and Patrice Vecchione, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1994; and Gifts from the Wild, edited by Faith Conlon, Ingrid Emerick, and Jennie Goode, Seal Press, 1998. Contributor of essays, short stories, and reviews to periodicals, including Milwaukee Journal, Wisconsin Academy Review, Bellingham Review, and Glimmer Train Press.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Geese, a novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Mary Relindes Ellis told CA: "I have never taken a course in fiction writing. Beyond the basic composition requirements in college, I moved onto courses in reading and writing poetry. I think that learning to write poetry is very difficult but very rewarding. And of course imagery is at the heart of great poetry and prose. Writing poetry also makes one pay attention to each word, to the cadence of speech, and the pause for a necessary breath. An oral storyteller knows how important those fundamentals are to telling an engaging story.

"I was and am influenced by those writers who can tell a story with lyricism, who use language skillfully to inform, amaze, and educate. I also gravitate toward writers (as a reader and a writer) who are not afraid to tackle issues that are difficult or painful or hidden, using a variety of techniques (including humor) skillfully. Leslie Marmon Silko's writing never fails to engage me and her first novel, Ceremony, remains pivotal for its extraordinary look at human evil and the need to conquer despair.

"Outside of Silko, there isn't a specific 'who' that influences me. I read many writers for pleasure and instruction. I read both female and male writers, and writers from other cultures. I am not fond of pulp fiction or pulp writing. I don't like to see language 'dummied' down. On the other hand, I don't care for writing that is so grandiose that it is unreadable. I had a demanding professor for freshman composition who told me never to use a fifty-cent word when I could use a twenty-five-cent one. He did not mean that I should write like a simpleton, only that I should use my fifty-cent words sparingly and when they carried the necessary impact and understanding to the writing.

"I honestly can't nail down when I became interested in writing to a single moment. It was a slow revelation upon my transitioning from writing poetry and wanting to carry an image onto a large 'frame.' I had a vivid imagination as a child. I was also read to from my earliest memory. I grew up listening to oral stories, told from the male and female perspective, a rural and urban perspective, and an immigrant past. Yet so much was not said, at that time, from a woman's perspective.

"I think it was Toni Morrison who said something to the effect of, 'If the book you want to read hasn't been written, then write it.' I had a rich, if somewhat difficult, childhood in a region of the United States that has been overlooked. I wanted to write about the interior life of that region.

"Although I may be the writer and hence the creator of the characters in my short stories and my novel, they become their own people—so much so that at some point, I cannot have a character behave in a certain way or do something because it would not be in their nature to do so. I have to pause then and think and often do some research because in a strange way, my character is asking a question of me—such as 'who do you think I am?'"



Booklist, November 15, 2003, Keir Graff, review of The Turtle Warrior, p. 574.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of The Turtle Warrior, p. 1286.

Kliatt, July, 2004, Nola Theiss, review of The Turtle Warrior, p. 57.

Library Journal, November 15, 2003, Marc Kloszewski, review of The Turtle Warrior, p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, December 1, 2003, review of The Turtle Warrior, p. 41.

School Library Journal, August, 2004, Pat Bender, review of The Turtle Warrior, p. 146.


Marly Rusoff and Associates Web site,http://www.rusoffagency.com/ (June 21, 2004), "Mary Relindes Ellis."

Mary Relindes Ellis Home Page,http://www.maryrelindesellis.com (January 27, 2005).