Ellen L. Buikema


60, unless you print this after 4/20, in which case 61, lol.

Where are you from

I was born on the island of Oahu and raised in the Village of Forest Park, Illinois, where at the time there were more dead people than living.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

Volume 3 in The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series, Summertime, is being illustrated and due to be published in early June. The eBook versions are on preorder.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I started thinking about writing a long time before I actually did anything about it.

When I was around 8 years old, my mother had to go into the hospital for surgery. My brothers were sent to live with an aunt, uncle and cousins in the suburbs. I really wanted to go with them—my cousins were a lot of fun to be around—but it wasn’t meant to be. I was driven to my grandparents’ house in Chicago to stay for three weeks. Much to my chagrin, I also went with three weeks of homework.

My grandpa was born on a large farm in southern Ireland. He had a wry sense of humor, told wonderful stories about his life as a boy and his “mad” math teacher, and used to recite poetry to me. I adored his stories, particularly the poems. I developed a great love storytelling from him.

I did not begin to write for other people until after my own children were grown.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer after I held my first physical book, Parenting . . . A Work in Progress, in my hands. It wasn’t “real” to me until that moment.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Answered within why and when

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I’d say that my voice varies with the type of book I’m writing. The Parenting book borders on academic, with serious to goofy vignettes. The Charlie series encourages empathy with a great deal of humor. The book I’ve just begun, Ride the Rails West (working title) will combine adventure, sadness, suspense, humor, and a glossing of supernatural. I suppose I am eclectic in my writing, although humor seems to weave into all my work.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Sometimes titles present themselves in dreams, daydreams, or meditation. Other times I decide upon a title after the story is written. Frankenfish, a Halloween story in The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: Holiday Celebrations (not out until January 2018 – is on preorder) came to me as I wrote the first page. I remember laughing as I typed on my laptop, and my husband walking past me, shaking his head. It can’t be easy living with a writer.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The central message in most of my writing is to have consideration for our fellow beings. If we take time to understand why someone acts the way they do, we can be more patient. I am big fan of empathy.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Real life experiences of my own and others that have had an impact on my life are woven into the body of all my books. The book I’ve just begun is loosely based on family history.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

Generally, I have used books as a means of escape for years. Whenever I was depressed, unhappy, or in need of a vacation with no way to take one, I’d find a book to cuddle up with and get lost inside the pages. There is no one book, but as a child I reread The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and reread The Hobbit and following trilogy on and off from 8th grade through university years. I am seldom without a book.

There is a teacher from 8th grade, Mr. Morrissey, who is not strictly a mentor, but very influential. He taught us that we should pay attention to the little things happening around us and to find something special in the ordinary. At least that is what I understood from him.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I’m skipping this one. I hope you don’t mind. I know too many authors. 😀

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I have the support of my author family, which includes two critique groups, an author support group, my Social Media writer connections, and two marketing groups. It takes a village to bring a good book into the world.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I see writing as part of my life. Something to share.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, it’s all good.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Already answered

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Already answered

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes! Point of view and tense. I had more trouble with both early on and sometimes slip and error. Critique groups have been especially helpful in these areas.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Travel has not been necessary for me at this time, however I do a lot of research online, send email to professionals in the field of my research, and call historical societies now and then. Most people have been very forthcoming.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

My illustrator, Elizabeth Engle, designed the covers of The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series. I haven’t chosen a designer for my newest book.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Relaxing into the book can be tough. When I say that I mean getting into the writing zone can be difficult. The rest of the world falls away into the distant background when I am in deep writing mode. For me, this time usually doesn’t last for more than a few hours.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

For the newest book, I learned a lot about hobos. I never knew they had a code of ethics.

Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead

I would love the Charlie stories to become animated shorts. They would make awesome cartoons!

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t rush. Do be patient with yourself, good work takes time. Be generous with your time. It will come back to you.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

The same as above: Don’t rush. Do be patient with yourself, good work takes time. Be generous with your time. It will come back to you.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Three Legs of the Cauldron, by R.L. Cherry

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

No, but I remember the Dick and Jane books they had us read in school—horrible. The first thing I remember trying to read were the Sunday comics.


Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?

I love to read and am never without at least on book. On vacation I usually bring two. I draw and used to paint, but haven’t set aside time for painting in quite a while. I sing in a choir. I tried bowling. That was hilarious! Once I bowled a strike in the lane next to me. Thankfully no one was hurt. If dancing were a sport, I’d do fairly well, I love to dance.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I am a SciFi fan and love a good mystery. Comedy is also great fun.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

            I believe that chocolate should be part of the food pyramid. My taste in music is eclectic, although I am not a fan of heavy metal or opera, unless it is light.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I would be an artist of some kind. I sometimes wish I’d pursued singing.


Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

My website is