04 May 2011

Author Answers with J.T. Ellison 2.0

Welcome thriller writer J.T. Ellison back to Word Nerd. She first appeared here in 2006 when she was a part of Killer Year and her first book was on its way to shelves.

Six books later, we're happy to have her back to talk about her latest, "So Close the Hand of Death."

WN: So Close the Hand of Death is the 6th Taylor Jackson book. What's it been like to push this character to this point?
J.T.:  It’s been rather amazing, actually. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years already. She’s such a fun
character, almost a friend to me now. When she hurts, I hurt. When she bleeds, I bleed. When she’s happy,
I’m happy. I love how she’s changed over the course of the books – no longer living in a world that’s so
black and white, she’s learned how many shades of gray exist out there.

WN: To write thrillers, you have to come up with some pretty nasty killers. Is it hard to come up with "bad guys" like that, why or why not?
J.T.: Not really. I tap into my fears, and the fears of people around me, and magnify them into nearly grotesque proportions. I take solace in the fact that nothing I can create in my own mind is nearly as bad as reality.

WN: Of course in thrillers, you also have the "good guys." What was the thought process in strengthening your protagonist, Taylor Jackson, to go up against all these killers?
J.T.: Taylor is a rare beast in the crime fiction world – a cop without a nagging trauma in her past to drive her.
She’s strong because that’s who she is, and she commands the respect of her peers. I like that part of her;
it’s what gives her courage in the face of adversity. And of course, not all the books involve serial killers, so
she faces the same horrors our cops do on the streets every day.

WN: What's changed (or hasn't changed) about how you write since you first wrote "All the Pretty Girls" to now?
J.T.: I’m a little less organic, because I have to share with my agent and editor what I’m working on. I’m writing faster now too – no more leisurely pace. So it’s changed quite a bit, actually. But the essence remains the same – find a way to tell a great story that will keep the reader engaged and entertained.

WN: You're one of the many authors out there on Twitter (as @thrillerchick). How has being a part of that online community helped or hindered you as a writer?
J.T.: It’s so much fun. I didn’t start tweeting as part of a marketing platform, or to promote myself. Hence the
name – I chose something I hoped was discreet so I could be anonymous. I got outed after a few months
and had to own up to who I was, so it changed a bit. But that’s the one place I’m really myself. It’s great for
news, socializing – all the water cooler aspects of a job that we writers don’t experience because we’re off
on our lonesomes.

WN: What's next for you as a writer?
J.T.: Nirvana, actually - more writing. The 7th Taylor Jackson comes out September 20, WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE. I have a multi-book contract that I’m working on right now, I just released a short story collection called SWEET LITTLE LIES, and I have two new shorts in anthologies this year. Life’s pretty sweet right now – and that’s not a lie!

Thanks so much for having me!

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