Today I’m sharing an interview with an author who is not only talented, but also incredibly warmhearted. I met J.T. Ellison a few months ago when I read her book, No One Knows, and am so excited to welcome her to Dream by Day! Her latest novel, Field of Graves, releases today and to celebrate, we’re bringing you all a Q&A!
For readers who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a bit about the LT. Jackson series and Field of Graves in particular?
Sure! Field of Graves is the perfect book to jump in with, because it’s the prequel to the series. Homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson, with the help of her best friend, medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, is trying to stop a killer hell-bent on creating his own apocalypse. It’s set in Nashville and introduces all the characters in the books—most importantly, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin. It’s the story of how Taylor and Baldwin met, how the team came together, a true origin story.
Taylor Jackson is a fabulous character to write. She’s the warrior goddess of Nashville, half cop, half rock star, and my own personal Athena. Sam Owens is her best friend, the lodestone of the series, the conscience, so to speak. They’re quite a pair. Add in Baldwin, and all sorts of mayhem ensues.
Why did you decide to revisit this series?
FOG, as we call it, was my first full-length novel. I landed an awesome agent with it, but it didn’t sell, so I put it in a drawer and moved on to the next book in the series, which did sell, and kicked off my career. Last year, I revisited it and realized it wasn’t half bad. I did a full editorial on it, and my publisher snapped it up. I’m thrilled it’s finally coming out.
Are there any characters in Field of Graves that came more naturally to you than others?
You’d think I’d say Taylor, but she was actually the most elusive. It took me quite a while to wrap my head around her. She’s an iconic hero—she’s not born in blood like so many crime fiction characters. She’s smart and intense and sees the black and white in the world, so finding her shades of gray was a challenge. I love them all, though. Baldwin is one of the easier ones to write for me. He’s so self-contained but so internally open, I really connected with him.
I loved reading your recently published book, No One Knows, and was shocked by the plot twist. What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to stretch my wings, actually. I’d written eight Taylor books and three Sam books and I wanted to see if I could write a standalone. I had a crazy dream in which I lost my husband after a party at the Opryland Hotel, and Harlan Coben appeared in it and gave me career advice, and it all came together as No One Knows. Crazy, right?
You’re a well-established and bestselling author, do you have any advice for other writers?
Read everything, and write every day. It doesn’t matter if you have ten hours of uninterrupted time or 10 minutes, you simply must touch your story every day. This will help you develop a solid writing habit. While this is the best job on earth, it is still a job, and you have to show up for work every day.
What are you reading when you’re not writing these gripping novels?
Books to blurb, books for the show (A Word on Words, I’m the co-host) books you recommend… I’m currently in Victoria Schwab’s A GATHERING OF SHADOWS and DEEP WORK by Cal Newport. True confession, there are 640 books on my Goodreads TBR…. Yikes!
Thanks so much for having me on the blog! This was fun!
Of course, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, J.T.! I can’t wait to dive into Field of Graves and learn more about these badass characters!
About J.T. Ellison
New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens. Follow J.T. on Facebook or Twitter @thrillerchick for more insight into her wicked imagination.