Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
J.T. Ellison Interview
9/11/2011 9:00:46 PM
International award winning writer J.T. Ellison discusses her novels and the writing life!
LTS: Today’s guest blogger needs no introduction, but for those of you who had been hiding under a rock for the past few years, I’d like to introduce you to the international award-winning author of seven critically acclaimed novels, the lovely and talented J.T. Ellison. I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
JTE: Hi Lorna! Thanks for having me. My favorite non-writing things to do: Read, golf, find awesome restaurants, drink good wine, and travel. I just returned home from a series of trips that meant months of being on the road – it feels so good to be home, to unpack, to sleep in my own bed. I’ve been a golfer since I was little, that’s my biggest stress reliever. And I try very hard to read a few books a week, though I don’t always hit that goal.
LTS: Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
JTE: Writing has always been a part of my life, yes, but when I was younger, I never in a million years dreamed of being published. I actually quit writing for several years after a professor told me I wasn’t good enough to get published. But writing is in my blood, and when I circled back to it in 2003, I felt like I’d finally found my place. I got very serious about it in 2004, and everything fell into place rather quickly for me.
LTS: I understand your debut novel ‘All the Pretty Girls’ has received great reviews. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Taylor Jackson?
JTE: The story was actually a dream I had. I woke up and wrote it down because it seemed so very strange, and so very real. But Taylor existed well before that dream. I was reading John Sandford and decided I wanted to have a female Lucas Davenport – half cop, half rock star – and have her be a former debutante from the enclave of Belle Meade, Nashville’s toniest neighborhood, who’s eschewed her parents lifestyle to become a cop. She is a hero, in the very best sense of the word. I see her as Athena, the warrior goddess of Nashville. Taylor is incredibly black and white – there’s good, there’s evil, and she knows what side she lands on. Putting her in gray areas is where all the fun is. And of course, she’s in love with an amazing man – Dr. John Baldwin, FBI profiler extraordinaire. At least, we think she’s in love with him.
LTS: Since the release of ‘All the Pretty Girls’ in 2007, you’ve published about a novel a year. What can you tell our readers about your upcoming release ‘Where All the Dead Lie’?
JTE: I’ve actually released 7 novels in 4 years, so I’ve been a bit busy. WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE is a major departure from the six earlier books in the series. Taylor has suffered a grievous injury at the hands of a suspect, is suffering from hysterical dysphonia, and agrees to recuperate at the Scottish ancestral home of James “Memphis” Highsmythe, the Viscount Dulsie. There are no murders, no serial killers, just Taylor pitted against herself and a haunted castle. And of course, finally exploring the forcidden emotions she has for Memphis. Naughty girl.
LTS: Seven novels in 4 years? That's incredible! Now, what is the most striking difference between your debut novel and your latest one?
JTE: Probably the freedom I had to write unfettered, without a deadline, and with the future of the characters in front of me. Seven books into a series, you have to make sure everything works in concert with the six books that came before – but this one is written as a complete standalone. It was part of the plan from the beginning, to have something unique. It’s also in trade paperback, so I’m hopeful it will reach new audiences. But there’s more – the first book was a serial killer novel – very catchy and grabby, and this one is a gothic suspense. A marathon instead of a sprint.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
JTE: I was blessed to have the planets align for me rather quickly, but I struggled at the beginning to find the right path. I sent out a novella I thought was a novel, pretty much broke every rule out there. It was ignorance. I stepped back, learned the industry, scrapped all but the first paragraph of the novella, doubled it in size and then came back to market. I had my agent within a few weeks. You must learn the industry – it helps you play the long odds better.
As far as advice - John Connolly told me that all good books find a home. It is so true. You have to have faith in that, in your writing, your story. You also have to look at your situation with a clear head. Have you gotten nibbles, but no big bites? Revise, revise, revise. Are you hearing crickets? Maybe your query is off. Constant nos? Then find a critique group and figure out what’s wrong with your book. You are in control, so you have to take the cues you’re given and apply them. This is the time to check your ego and be open to criticism.
LTS: Can you share that moment when your agent told you he/she sold your story to Mira Books?
JTE: Of course. What made this event so incredibly amazing, aside from the fact that I got to hear the magic words – three-book deal – my parents witnessed THE CALL. Twice a year they pack up their SUV and drive between homes, stopping to stay for a few days in Nashville along the way. They’d been at the house for about half an hour, just gotten settled into chairs with drinks, and the movie A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE going, when the phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID, saw the 212 area code and said something, well, rude. Along the lines of "Oh f**k". I knew this was something big.
I don’t remember too much of the conversation, unfortunately. My agent teased me a little in the beginning, and since I’m the eternal optimist, I’m thinking, “Damn it, I’ve blown it. It’s over.” My heart was thudding so loudly that I didn’t even hear what he was saying until the words “three book” popped into my consciousness.
I made him go back and repeat everything he’d said. I managed to get through the conversation, half acknowledged when he said congratulations, you’re a published author now, go call your husband. I got Hubby on the phone and told the three most important people in my life the most important news I’ve ever received. And promptly cried my eyes out.
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
JTE: That you absolutely cannot compare yourself, your career, and your trajectory to other writers. Everyone is on their own path, their own timetable. Comparing yourself, getting upset when they get a review you coveted, or make a list when you don’t, is the very best way to shoot yourself in the foot. Also, paying it forward not only gives you good karma, it is incredibly rewarding. There is nothing better than seeing a new author who you believe in succeed.
LTS: I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
JTE: I set goals, and try very hard to meet daily word counts, (usually 1,000 per day) but I can be bulimic in my writing sometimes, especially during heavy travel times. I sit down and gorge on words, throwing them on the page, clocking 5,000-10,000 word days. The healthier method is the 1,000 words a day, but those frenzied days are kind of fun too.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
JTE: I am a Beethovian (pantser) versus Mozartian (plotter) for sure – I like to sit down and let the muse take over, no real plan in place, just me and the story. I think writing is like all great art, so you have to stay in shape and prepared, have your tools at the ready, and always be willing to open the doors and let the magic flow through your fingers. Too much planning makes it boring for me – I like to be surprised.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
JTE: I really don’t. I used to have to have everything in its place, the pad of paper and pencil next to me just so, the work lamp lit, all that. But it’s about the writing, not the prep work, so now I just get that manuscript open, read what I wrote the day before, editing as I go, and then start cranking.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
JTE: I don’t believe in writer’s block in the way some think of it – I think if you’re stuck, it’s your story telling you you’re headed in the wrong direction. Close the manuscript, grab a book, take a walk (go play golf) and don’t think about it. By the next day, you’ll almost always have a solution. If that still doesn’t work, then maybe you’re telling the wrong story. Put it aside and try something else. Because inactivity breeds inactivity. When you lose your momentum, it can kill your writing career.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
JTE: I have several favorites, but my seminal go to writer is John Connolly. I think he’s one of the brightest minds in fiction. He melds crime fiction with the supernatural and lashes it all together with a literary bent that makes reading his books something akin to a gourmet meal in which all of your favorite foods are served, cooked to perfection. Whenever I get lost, or stymied, I go back and reread his books. Diana Gabaldon is another author that I use when I get stuck, but for different reasons. Her ability to take minutae and make it fascinating is something I strive for.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
JTE: I’m always blown away by the idea that I can write something in my chair in my living room, and a year later, a complete stranger will pick up the finished product, read it, enjoy it, and send me a note. Touching people’s lives is amazing. I write escapist literature, something that you can take to the beach and disappear into, so when I get notes from people who don’t read, or always hated to read, who happened upon one of my books, and loved it – that’s the coolest. I am so grateful for every note, ever reader. It’s humbling, to say the least.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
JTE: A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan. It is fantastic, completely masterful. I love books that break rules, and Egan does it with the best of them. It came so highly recommended that I saved it for vacation. I’m sipping it because I don’t want it to end.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from crime thrillers into other genres? Can your fans expect to read ‘Where All the Dead Lie’ in the near future?
JTE: Where all the Dead Lie release September 20, 2011. The next book to come out will be in May 2012, and is the beginning of a new series. It is a slightly different genre – more suburban thriller than anything else. I do like to play with genres, so I hope I have that freedom going forward. You have to balance what you want, what the fans want, and what the publishers want – but I’ve been incredibly lucky so far.
LTS: Thank you for taking time from your crazy hectic schedule to share in your novels and your writerly wisdom!
JTE: Thanks so much!
For more information about J.T. Ellison and her novels, check out:
Follow J.T. Ellison on Twitter: .thrillerchick
Where to buy the book: Wherever books are sold!
More Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Carlie Cullen Interview - Saturday, August 24, 2013
Kit Grindstaff Interview - Saturday, August 10, 2013
Shannon MacLeod Interview - Saturday, August 03, 2013
Brian Rathbone Interview - Saturday, July 27, 2013
Graeme Ing Interview - Saturday, July 20, 2013
Alison DeLuca Interview - Saturday, July 13, 2013
Christine Nolfi Interview - Saturday, July 06, 2013
Sara Furlong-Burr Interview - Saturday, June 29, 2013
Tamela Buhrke Interview - Saturday, June 22, 2013
Heidi Garrett Interview - Saturday, June 15, 2013
Loren Kleinman Interview - Saturday, June 08, 2013
Leanne Shirtliffe Interview - Saturday, June 01, 2013
Hannah Fielding Interview - Saturday, May 25, 2013
Erica Lucke Dean Interview - Saturday, May 18, 2013
Amber Lea Easton Interview - Sunday, May 12, 2013
Ruth Nestvold Interview - Saturday, May 04, 2013
Rose Garcia Interview - Saturday, April 20, 2013
Robert Pruneda Interview - Saturday, April 13, 2013
Lance Burson Interview - Saturday, April 06, 2013
Rachel Thompson Interview: - Saturday, March 23, 2013
Samantha Martin Interview - Saturday, March 16, 2013
Lisette Brodey Interview - Saturday, March 09, 2013
Jack Whyte Interview Part Two - Saturday, March 02, 2013
Jack Whyte Interview Part One - Saturday, February 23, 2013
Molly Greene Interview - Saturday, February 16, 2013
Dionne Lister Interview - Saturday, February 09, 2013
Anita Reynolds MacArthur Interview: - Saturday, February 02, 2013
Alicia Kat Dillman Interview - Saturday, January 26, 2013
John Gregory Hancock Interview - Saturday, January 19, 2013
Adriana Ryan Interview - Saturday, January 12, 2013
Jennifer McConnel Interview - Friday, January 04, 2013
S.M. Boyce Interview - Saturday, December 15, 2012
James Tallett Interview - Saturday, December 08, 2012
Melissa McPhail Interview - Saturday, December 01, 2012
Roz Morris Interview - Sunday, November 18, 2012
Tania Johansson Interview - Saturday, November 10, 2012
Dale Ivan Smith Interview - Sunday, November 04, 2012
Respect Your Readers - Sunday, October 28, 2012
Greta van der Rol Interview - Sunday, October 21, 2012
Justin Bog Interview - Saturday, October 13, 2012
Thanksgiving Day: Gratitude - Saturday, October 06, 2012
Steena Holmes Interview - Saturday, September 29, 2012
Kenneth Hoss Interview - Saturday, September 22, 2012
Patty Jansen Interview - Saturday, September 15, 2012
Joshua E. Bigger Interview - Saturday, September 08, 2012
Joyce Damask Interview - Saturday, September 01, 2012
Marketing & Twitter - Saturday, August 25, 2012
Henry Herz Interview - Saturday, August 18, 2012
Kristin Bair O'Keeffe Interview - Sunday, August 12, 2012
William Linde Interview - Saturday, August 04, 2012
Micheal Rivers Interview - Saturday, July 21, 2012
Robert James Russell Interview - Saturday, July 14, 2012
Becka Sutton Interview - Saturday, July 07, 2012
Canadian Authors Feature - Saturday, June 30, 2012
Gini Koch Interview - Sunday, June 17, 2012
M. Pax Interview - Saturday, June 09, 2012
Karina Halle Interview - Saturday, June 02, 2012
Novice Writing Mistakes - Sunday, May 27, 2012
Pippa Jay Interview - Sunday, May 20, 2012
Glenn Starkey Interview - Saturday, May 12, 2012
Maurice G. Nicholson Interview - Saturday, May 05, 2012
How I Select Followers on Twitter - Saturday, April 28, 2012
Shaun Allan Interview - Sunday, April 22, 2012
Darlene Foster Interview - Saturday, April 14, 2012
Kim Aleksander Interview - Saturday, April 07, 2012
Hope Collier Interview - Saturday, March 31, 2012
John Kolson’s Writeado: A New Online Writing Tool - Saturday, March 24, 2012
Jeff Shanley Interview - Saturday, March 17, 2012
Stephen England Interview - Saturday, March 10, 2012
Everett Powers Interview - Saturday, March 03, 2012
The Kindle Prime Experiment - Saturday, February 25, 2012
Edward Lazellari Interview - Saturday, February 18, 2012
Connie J. Jasperson Interview - Saturday, February 11, 2012
Sally Dubats - Saturday, February 04, 2012
Selecting Writers For My Author Feature - Sunday, January 29, 2012
Tarek Refaat Interview - Sunday, January 22, 2012
Toby Neal Interview: - Saturday, January 14, 2012
Thomas A. Knight Interview - Sunday, January 08, 2012
Linda Poitevin Interview - Sunday, January 01, 2012
2011: A Year in Review - Monday, December 26, 2011
Angeline Kace Interview - Sunday, December 18, 2011
Eden Baylee Interview - Saturday, December 10, 2011
Cyndi Tefft Interview - Saturday, December 03, 2011
The Conference Experience - Sunday, November 27, 2011
A.R. Silverberry Interview - Sunday, November 20, 2011
Suzy Turner Interview - Sunday, November 13, 2011
Patti Roberts Interview - Sunday, November 06, 2011
Raine Thomas Interview - Sunday, October 23, 2011
LK Gardner-Griffie Interview - Saturday, October 15, 2011
Jonathan Gould Interview - Saturday, October 08, 2011
Brian Rathbone Interview - Saturday, October 01, 2011
Matthew Merrick Interview - Sunday, September 25, 2011
Dean Lappi Interview - Saturday, September 17, 2011
J.T. Ellison Interview - Sunday, September 11, 2011
Carolyn Arnold Interview - Sunday, September 04, 2011
John Kolson Interview - Sunday, August 21, 2011
Megan Curd Interview - Saturday, August 06, 2011
Elena Aitken - Sunday, July 31, 2011
When Book Reviews are Misleading… - Sunday, July 24, 2011
Deborah Riley-Magnus - Saturday, July 16, 2011
Jessica Subject Interview - Sunday, July 10, 2011
J. Alexander Greenwood Interview: - Sunday, July 03, 2011
When Social Networking is no so social... - Monday, June 27, 2011
Dannie C. Hill - Monday, June 20, 2011
Shay Fabbro Interview - Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Genevieve P. Ching Interview - Monday, June 06, 2011
Al Boudreau Interview - Monday, May 30, 2011
Jennifer Hudock Interview - Monday, May 23, 2011
Paul Mansfield Keefe Interview - Monday, May 16, 2011
Rusty Fischer Interview - Monday, May 09, 2011
Jason McIntyre Interview - Monday, May 02, 2011
Emlyn Chand & Novel Publicity - Monday, April 25, 2011
Steve Umstead Interview - Monday, April 18, 2011
John Betcher Interview - Monday, April 11, 2011
Kimberly Kinrade Interview - Monday, April 04, 2011
Inspiration & Where You Find It - Monday, March 28, 2011
Christie Yant - Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Amy J. Rose David Interview - Monday, March 14, 2011
George H. Sirois Interview - Monday, March 07, 2011
Linda Nagata Interview - Monday, February 28, 2011
Adventures in Editing or... Is it Done Yet? - Monday, February 21, 2011
Greg Messel Interview - Monday, February 14, 2011
Jen Wylie Interview - Monday, February 07, 2011
Katie M. John Interview - Monday, January 31, 2011
How Do You Measure Success: - Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Avery Tingle Interview - Monday, January 17, 2011
Kristie Cook Interview - Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Ren Cummins - Tuesday, January 04, 2011
A Wish For the New Year - Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Trish Wolfe Interview - Monday, December 20, 2010
Jesi Lea Ryan Interview - Monday, December 13, 2010
Cat Connor Interview - Monday, December 06, 2010
How to Make a Story Ring True - Monday, November 29, 2010
Sharon Bially Interview - Monday, November 22, 2010
Donna Carrick Interview - Monday, November 15, 2010
Brenda Sedore Interview - Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Robert Feagan Interview - Monday, November 01, 2010
Of Book Signings, Volunteering & Option Agreements… - Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Daryl Sedore Interview - Monday, October 18, 2010
Seven Day Blog Tour Begins October 17th - Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Todd A. Ritter Interview - Monday, October 04, 2010
Cheryl Kaye Tardif Interview - Monday, September 27, 2010
Claude Bouchard Interview - Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Dr. Peter Clement Interview - Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Elizabeth Isaacs Interview - Monday, September 06, 2010
Introducing a New YA Fantasy - Monday, August 30, 2010
Interview with Author Gene Doucette - Monday, August 23, 2010
It's All About the Books Part 2 - Monday, August 16, 2010
It's All About the Books - Monday, August 09, 2010
When to Abandon Your Manuscript - Monday, August 02, 2010
1st Anniversary Blog: A Celebration of Authors - Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Kathy Chung & the SiWC Part Twp - Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Kathy Chung & the Surrey International Writers Conference Part One - Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Deanna Jewel Interview - Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The Happiest Indie Author (me) in the World! - Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Author Effect - Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Jacqueline Pearce Interview - Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Peggy Richardson Interview - Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga Interview - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The Importance of a Critique Group - Saturday, May 29, 2010
Zoe Winters Interview - Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Zoe Winters Interview - Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Tonya R. Moore Interview - Monday, May 03, 2010
Write On Bowen! - Monday, April 26, 2010
Dayna Hester Interview - Monday, April 19, 2010
Luke Romyn Interview - Monday, April 12, 2010
Rhonda Carpenter Interview - Monday, March 29, 2010
Lacey Weatherford Interview - Monday, March 22, 2010
K.M. Weiland Interview - Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords Interview! - Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Jo Lynne Valerie Interview - Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Dan McNeil Interview - Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Catherine McKenzie Interview - Tuesday, February 16, 2010
8 Years of Writing! 8 eBook Winners! - Sunday, February 07, 2010
Birthday Blog (or an Ode to Aging Gracelessly) - Monday, January 18, 2010
Interview with Paranormal Author Kate Austin - Monday, January 11, 2010
Riley Carney Interview - Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Ask an Editor - Monday, December 28, 2009
Lee Edward Fodi Interview - Monday, December 21, 2009
Interview with YA Author James McCann - Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Researching Historical Fiction with Diana Gabaldon - Tuesday, December 08, 2009
kc dyer Interview & Enter to Win an Autographed Novel! - Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Bev Katz Rosenbaum Interview - Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Writing Tips I Learned from Terry Brooks - Tuesday, November 17, 2009
An Interview with Tamara Sheehan - Monday, November 09, 2009
YA Author Loreena M. Lee Interview - Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Why Do I Blog About Other Authors? - Thursday, October 29, 2009
Critique by Author Jack Whyte - Tuesday, October 27, 2009
BookCamp 2009 - Monday, October 19, 2009
Participating at VCON 34 - Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Therese Walsh Interview - Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Interview with Debra Purdy Kong - Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Twitter – The Power of the Tweet - Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Part Two: Publishing in a Foreign Market - Tuesday, September 15, 2009
An Interview with author Christopher Belton - Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Part Two of the Caroline Leavitt Interview: - Thursday, September 03, 2009
An Interview with Author & Book Reviewer Caroline Leavitt - Tuesday, September 01, 2009
An Interview with Kathleen Bolton - Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Interview with author/artist Scott Kessman: - Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Interview with author/artist Scott Kessman: - Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Part 2 of the Kim Falconer Interview - Thursday, August 13, 2009
An Interview with Kim Falconer - Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Part 2 An Interview with Alan Baxter - Thursday, August 06, 2009
An Interview with Alan Baxter - Tuesday, August 04, 2009
If You Write It, They Will Come (buy it)… Not! - Sunday, July 26, 2009
Lori A. May: Author Extraordinaire - Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Merits of a Writers Conference - Sunday, July 19, 2009
Part 2 Publishing in the Digital Age - Thursday, July 16, 2009
Publishing in the Digital Age - Monday, July 13, 2009
Writing Tips for the Novice Novelist - Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Flog the Blog - Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Do's & Don't of a TV interview - Saturday, June 27, 2009
Mortality & Writing - Friday, June 26, 2009
The Art of Editing 101 - Tuesday, June 23, 2009
How To Write When Suffering from Bad Memory Retention - Saturday, June 20, 2009
Finding Inspiration from Others - Thursday, June 18, 2009
To Blog or Twitter... - Tuesday, June 16, 2009