Category Archives: JT Ellison

7.10.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Happy Sunday, folks!

Amy here. Are you having a good time settling into summer? In Nashville, that usually means coming to terms with never-ending sticky weather with thunderstorms every afternoon. But you know what? I’m making peace with it because . . .



I live for fresh tomatoes. By themselves with salt. On a freshly grilled hamburger. In pico de gallo. With cottage cheese. In all the things, I live for them. I love you, tomatoes.

Anyway . . .

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

40 hidden artworks

This one’s for the book nerds: look at these 40 hidden artworks painted on the edges of books!

NPR food

A valid question: “Why does every new restaurant look like a factory?” (I thought this was just a Nashville thing—not so much, it appears)

Morris Book Shop

Have you ever wanted to own a cool book shop? Now’s your chance.

nerd socks

Shop for stocking stuffers early: look at these socks for book nerds!

There is nothing I love more than animals of different species being friends—a good life metaphor, I think.

And closer to home:

Produtturi Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe 2010

Have you been missing JT? Never fear! I have the scoop on a way to get your thrillerchick fix: this Wine Vixen blog post, in which she dishes on an Italian red.

fridge dill pickles

If you didn’t catch JT’s July News, you can check it out here, along with this killer pickle recipe! (and if you never want to miss it again, you should sign up for her monthly email—word on the street is a pretty cool contest for email subscribers is coming soon…just sayin’, folks)

That’s it from me, fine people. Go get you some tomatoes (or whichever summer produce makes your heart flutter), stay cool, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Cordially yours,
Assistant Amy

Via: JT Ellison


7.3.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

Amy here, pleasantly surprised that I’m not drowning in Tennessee humidity this July weekend. I actually want to go outside instead of huddle under the A/C and pray for winter (I run a little hot—I really should live in Alaska).

American friends, I hope you have a lovely time celebrating the 4th tomorrow!

hardly anything rattles toby, but he’s not a big fan of loud noises that disturb his slumber

Mother of Greyhounds PSA: If you’ve got pets who are going to be frightened of fireworks, don’t forget to make the holiday a little easier for them, make sure they’re secure, and give them a little extra love.

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

Dick Van Dyke singalong

Dick Van Dyke led a sing-along of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins in front of Walt Disney’s childhood home (because why not?), and I got all the feels. LOOK AT HIM. He is 90. I daresay he looks (and moves) 30 years younger than that. I’ll have what he’s having.

Eleanor Roosevelt Harry Potter

This is why our Nashville indie Parnassus Books is my favorite: a shop-dog scavenger hunt and Harry Potter celebrations. I mean, come on.

cast iron

Have you heard about people making fancy new cast-iron pans? I was this close from contributing to a Kickstarter for a company trying to make lighter pans…but why would I do that, when my $16 Lodge skillet does just fine and will last me forever? I could put that money toward adding new spices to my collection. (Confession: I have a Penzey’s Spices addiction. And I don’t care.)

gyro chicken

Speaking of food, I can’t stop eating this chicken. I’m really glad my boyfriend will eat whatever I put in front of him, because I’ve made this no less than four times in the past ten days. I omit the pita, because I’m lazy and always have rice in my pantry to pair it with instead. Seriously. You have to make this chicken.

Wine in TN grocery stores

As of July 1, we Tennesseans can finally buy wine in grocery stores, and everybody lost their minds. See the actual headline in The Tennessean as proof. No longer will broke college students commission their out-of-state friends to bring them cases of Two-Buck Chuck.

And closer to home:


Guys. If you’ve finished FIELD OF GRAVES, now’s the time to move on to the next book (chronologically) in the series: ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS. You J.T. Ellison vets will no doubt remember this is her first book. But! It’s being put back in print with a pretty new cover. Hooray! You can check out the details here.


J.T.’s July Newsletter went out this week! Did you get yours? Have you tried that pickle recipe yet!? (you should!) Not on the list yet? You can sign up here. Spoiler alert: there’s a great contest coming to newsletter subscribers in the next couple of weeks, so now’s the time to join!

New Riesling!

My love for Riesling is not a secret. I love that varietal because it has such range, and you never know what you’re going to get. I tried a new bottle this week, and was blown away by it. If you’ve got spicy food or Asian dishes on your menu soon, this is the perfect one to pair it with!

That’s it from me, you guys! Have a lovely week, be safe tomorrow, and I’ll talk to you later!

–Assistant Amy

Via: JT Ellison


6.30.16 – If you’ve finished FIELD OF GRAVES, it’s time for the next Taylor book…

By JT Ellison

Hi, guys!

Amy here, taking the reins from J.T. so she can, you know, write stuff for all of us to devour.

If you’ve finished FIELD OF GRAVES (congrats, by the way!), now’s the time to move on to the next book in the Lt. Taylor Jackson series: ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS. It’s got a new cover, a creepy killer who likes to leave unconventional bread crumbs at the scenes of his crimes, and more Taylor/Baldwin goodness. You don’t wanna miss this book (or, if you’ve read it, take a walk down Memory Lane and revisit this one!).

Here’s a bit more about it:

Book #1 in the heart-racing Taylor Jackson series chronicles a serial killer who leaves a gruesome memento at each crime scene—his prior victim’s severed hand. As the killer spirals out of control, Taylor and Baldwin must face a horrible truth: the purest evil is born of private lies.

Pre-Order the $9.99 Paperback!





Via: JT Ellison


6.26.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Hello, chickens. Welcome to Sunday.

I hope you’re keeping cool and your summer has officially kicked off to a good start. I spent most of last week in Colorado visiting family, enjoying weather a bit more arid than the muggy heat of Tennessee. Though I’m not complaining—after a couple weeks in a suitcase, there really is no place like home.

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:


This owl melted my heart. I literally tear up every time I see the pictures, and the story behind them is just as heartwarming. It makes me think that staring into the great unknown isn’t perhaps as scary as it once was.

mysteries and thrillers

One of our favorite book sites, BookRiot, listed 10 thrillers & mysteries to read this summer (spoiler alert: you may recognize one of them!).

cartography and comparison

On Cartography & Comparison—aka the difference between Google Maps and Apple Maps. This is one of the coolest stories you’ll read all summer. Really great for those of you who love maps and like to argue about directions.


How many notebooks do you really need? (if you’re me: a bunch) I’m always on the lookout for a perfect physical system, but I’ve settled pretty well into my Habanas lately. Though true confession: I bought a Midori travel notebook system last night. Sigh.

bookish jewelry

This bookish jewelry is all kinds of adorable. Want!


Food for thought: Why following your passion isn’t always the best advice.” This video was interesting to me for a numbers of reasons, possibly because I did put my passion on hold for so long and simply pulled down a paycheck. I think it’s important to have pride in your work, and teach kids a trade. Because if the world collapses, someone’s going to have to rebuild it…

And closer to home:


On The Wine Vixen, I talked about my go-to red when it’s summer and it’s scorching and you want something boozy and cold.


Want an omniscient view of how FIELD OF GRAVES came into being? Here you go!

On tours, fear, and everything in between

It’s been quite a past few weeks in the headlines, hasn’t it? That, coupled with lots of tour travel, had me pensive about traveling and made a few things clear: like what I need to be doing for the rest of the summer (hint: I’m taking a big online break from social media, blogging, the works.) Assistant Amy will be running things, and I’ll bet you don’t even miss me. ?

That’s all from me, lovelies. Enjoy your day, and hug on your people. You both deserve a little love today.


Via: JT Ellison


6.23.16 – On Tours, Fear, and Everything in Between

By JT Ellison

Tonight I will return home after ten days on the road. There is one more airport to conquer, one more flight to take, and then I can collapse. I’ve been in Colorado for the past few days, finishing up the FIELD OF GRAVES tours, seeing my family, hanging with some friends. It’s been a nice mini-break, though I’ve worked every day. And though there have been times of silence and contemplation, I can’t seem to truly relax.

Something is bothering me.

Well, many things are bothering me. I’m furious and heartbroken over Orlando. I’ve had to stay off social media for the most part because seeing my friends yell at each other upsets me. From the vagaries of presidential politics to the excess of cilantro in guacamole, everything is up for debate now, for judgement, for all-out shout-fests and insults. It makes me lose faith in humanity.

I went out on the road the day after the attack. Was I nervous? Yes. But the moment I stepped through the doors of my airport, something shifted in me. It shifted in everyone, I think. Everyone who stepped away from their screens and actually interacted with the world.

People were quieter than normal, but the smiles were genuine. The airport is always a frenetic, intense place (one I love, but I’m odd) and this was no different… and yet it was. The people who were looking out for our safety, TSA and the police, seemed more engaged. The travelers were more patient. There was kindness: offers to help with bags, pleasant small talk, compliments, no complaining or bitching.

For a moment, I thought, Wow, everyone’s on their best behavior. And then I realized, no, that’s not it.

We are standing together.

We are standing together.

We are standing together.

Any lingering nerves disappeared. I felt brave and strong.

I saw this togetherness all week long. I was in five airports. I spoke in five bookstores. I was in four hotels. And in each place, this vein of kindness, of courage and selflessness, was open and overflowing. I had so much fun being with readers and booksellers. These are my people, yes, but it was a stellar trip on all fronts.

Fact is, there was something special about being with people this week.

We all know people will say things online they would never say to someone’s face. Likewise, great kindnesses abound. But the perpetual outrage that I see online was blessedly missing from my life as I shook hands, hugged, signed books, accepted drinks and food, keys and pens and soaps.

Everyone was just a little gentler with their strangers.

I try very hard to conduct myself online in a manner that’s not confrontational, not alienating. I respect that we all have our own thoughts about pretty much everything, and realize there might be 5 people on this earth that actually agree on all these things. And I rarely, if ever, discuss hot button topics, because as a regular Joe, my opinion on these matters are irrelevant.

But as an author, I do have a responsibility. And I try to live up to that responsibility in a slightly different way than many. My tool of communication is my novels. My social commentary is through my novels. My job is to tell a story. My job is to make you think, make you wonder, make you happy and sad, and do it in all the right places. My job is to entertain you, to help you escape, to give you a respite from the barrage of reality we’re all faced with, day in and day out. To (hopefully) make you lose sleep because you’re engrossed. To educate, to illuminate, to enrage. My job is to give you something you’ve never seen before, something that will linger with you long after the cover is closed.

I do my best.

The past few months have been rough, I won’t lie. It’s been a long few months for us all out in the real world, and it’s been a long few months at home, too. Launching two books and doing two tours in the span of three months has taken a lot out of me. I’ve put a lot into these two babies. I haven’t been writing nearly enough. (Though don’t worry, I have been. Without the writing, the tours don’t happen, after all.) But even with the copious amounts of help I receive from Amazing Amy and my husband and my publishers, the juggling of turning an introvert into a temporary extrovert named Author Girl has me pretty much whipped.

And so. Call it a social experiment, call it a battery recharge, call it a finding of oneself, but I’m going to take a small sabbatical from the interwebs. It’s well overdue. Normally I leave for Lent, but because of the release timing for NO ONE KNOWS, I had to come back early, and trust me, the time off that I did have was consumed with PR. And the machine didn’t stop spinning from then on.

But it’s more than wanting a little break from the online world. I’ve been very affected by the interactions I’ve had IRL—in real life—over the past couple of weeks. It reminds me that I spend much too much time staring at my screens, and not enough time in the living world.

What will I be doing on my enforced break? Well, I found my yoga practice again on the road—thank heavens!—so there will be lots of yoga. There will be some golf. There will be hugging, and drinking, and eating with friends.

And most importantly, there will be hours upon hours of deep work.

Amazing Amy will be running things whilst I’m away. Should an emergency occur, I will be reachable. But I won’t be checking in. I encourage you to join me in this summer sabbatical. Because we all need to be alone sometimes.

Via: JT Ellison


6.20.16 – Welcome, Summer! Let’s get some Summer Reads, shall we?

By JT Ellison

Helloooooo, Summer!

‘Tis the season for lazy reading by the pool. Or in a hammock. Or on the couch. Or wherever you can catch some Z’s.

To celebrate summer and the release of FIELD OF GRAVES, I’m giving away a gift card to every store* who hosted me on tour.

*This includes Parnassus Books in Nashville, Murder by the Book in Houston, Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, and Barnes and Noble Lone Tree. They all ship, so don’t worry about geography! And they all have signed copies of FIELD OF GRAVES, too!

See below for ways to enter. Good luck, chickens!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Via: JT Ellison


6.19.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Happy Sunday, dear chickens.

And Happy Father’s Day to all you incredible Daddies out there, especially my own, who is one of the greatest joys in my life. I come to you today from the grand Rocky Mountains, as I am still touring cross-country for the FIELD OF GRAVES launch. I’ve so enjoyed getting to meet some of you, hearing your stories (sounds like you’re just as glad that I am that Taylor’s back!), and getting to say hi to bookseller friends old and new. It’s been a hard week for so many reasons, and in the midst of the darkness, I’m so glad to connect with my people, the reading community. Y’all are such a thoughtful, imaginative group, and I’m glad you’re mine.

And without further ado . . .

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

15 Things Book Nerds Are Guilty Of Doing During The Summer

How many of these can you fess up to? “15 Things Book Nerds Are Guilty of Doing During The Summer.”

Legalizing marijuana is a hazy question once you've seen addiction up close

Written by a dear friend of mine who has just been through epic hell, this is a fascinating read in the LA Times: “Legalizing Marijuana Is a Hazy Question Once You’ve Seen Addiction Up Close.”

Giant Bookshelf (!)

Take a peek at this giant bookshelf (!).


This may be the cutest town in the whole wide world.

If you’re interested in finding some simplicity this week, this lost of suggestions is absolute perfection. I felt peaceful just reading it.

And closer to home:

Freedom Interviews

My love for Freedom is no secret; I’ve written more than a million words using this distraction-blocking app. I talked to my friends at Freedom about how I use their app and loads of other tools to write, and you can read our chat here and here.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Also, book recommendation: I’m in the middle of SWEETBITTER by Stephanie Danler. Oh my, chickens—I am utterly entranced. It’s the real deal. Methinks you need to read this one.


On The Wine Vixen this week, Amy has a confession of sorts.

That’s it from me, y’all. I leave you with this quote, which continues to speak to me after I saw it earlier this week. Be well, my loves.


Via: JT Ellison


6.16.16 – In which The Poisoned Pen sticks me in the hot seat

By JT Ellison

I’m on the road this week, touring for FIELD OF GRAVES. I visited this indie last night, The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona. I love this store, and I loved the interview we did. Being “in the hot seat” wasn’t so bad after all!

J.T., welcome to the The Poisoned Pen’s blog. Would you introduce yourself to our readers? Tell us about yourself.

Thanks for having me! Let’s see, I’ve been writing thrillers for a decade now, and have 13 books published under my own name, and also co-write with the divine Catherine Coulter. I’m a wine junkie (see and love golf and yoga. And kittens––I have twin girls, silver mackerel tabbies, who are an absolute hoot. I love to travel and have been married for over 20 years to the love of my life. I live in Nashville, which is one of the best literary cities in the country. I also co-host a literary television series called A Word on Words, which was started over 40 years ago by the esteemed John Seigenthaler. Needless to say, I’m juggling a lot of balls, but I’m having a blast!

Why did you become a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, so that wasn’t a conscious choice. But after a college professor told me I wasn’t good enough to be published, I quit, went in a different direction, working in the White House and Department of Commerce before swerving into aerospace marketing. But the bug wouldn’t leave me alone, and after we moved to Nashville, I discovered John Sandford, and three books into the Prey series decided I was going to give it another try. That book eventually became FIELD OF GRAVES. So as to why––I couldn’t stop myself, really. I was compelled, called, driven to it by the muse.

Read the rest on The Poisoned Pen blog!

Via: JT Ellison


6.14.16 – The wait for Taylor is over: FIELD OF GRAVES comes out today!

By JT Ellison

Taylor Jackson is back, y’all.

Get all of your questions answered (How did Taylor get her scar? How did she and Baldwin meet?), and say hello to your old favorites (Sam! Fitz! Marcus! Lincoln!) as they track down a madman trying to create his own apocalypse.













To celebrate the day, I’ll leave you with this interview I did with ITW. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks again for being the best readers! xoxo

Tracking a Killer and Facing Down the Past

By Alex Segura

Even as a series pushes forward, there’s always an opportunity to go back to the beginning. Author J.T. Ellison manages to do both in her latest Lieutenant Taylor Jackson thriller, the menacing and intense FIELD OF GRAVES. With a serial killer on the loose in Nashville, readers are left to ride along with cops that seem just as damaged as the madman trying to speed up a nightmarish future. Jackson and some of Ellison’s most memorable characters join forces to not only defeat the killer—but to fight back their own haunted pasts. Ellison, a New York Times-bestselling author, keeps you on edge with stellar pacing and lively characters. Coupled with some surprising peeks into the history of some of her key characters and fans will not want to skip on the dark, haunting GRAVES. We had the pleasure of talking about the book and what’s next for the prolific Ellison.

What was the first thriller you ever read, and what about it made it memorable?

I read a lot of Tom Clancy back in the day, but the first thriller I remember getting really excited about was Nelson DeMille’s The Charm School. I loved the idea of the wolf in sheep’s clothing, a theme I explore over and over in my own work. Also, because of the imminent Russian threat to the U.S. (I actually took a class on global thermo-nuclear war my freshman year of college), I decided I wanted to join the Foreign Service and do my part to end the threat from abroad. I was on that path when I met my husband (who was, oddly, a CIA recruit at the time). Neither of us took it any further, though. So a life-changing read, indeed.

Definitely. What can you tell us about your writing process?

Schizophrenic, at the moment. Because of terrible scheduling on my end, I have my hand in several projects right now. I’ve given up on any sort of steady progress on anything and instead have been putting out fires, snatching whatever writing time I can. But when things are calm and normal, I keep shop hours. I do business in the morning and write in the afternoon. I am not a morning person, so this works well for my creative flow, which doesn’t hit its peak until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. When I open the manuscript, I reread what I wrote the previous day, edit it, fix any lingering issues, decide which scene I need to get out of my head, and go from there. I shoot for the whole scene, which generally is a chapter, or 1000 words, give or take. I research while I write, for the most part. I am a terrible taskmaster. If I stay on myself, I can write two books a year comfortably, three if I push it. I’m pushing it right now.

Tell me about FIELD OF GRAVESwhat was the inspiration behind it and why did you find you needed to tell this story now?

The inspiration—I wanted to write crime fiction like John Sandford (here we are again, being influenced by another life-changing thriller.) I wanted a female homicide lieutenant who was half cop, half rock star, and Nashville had to be very integral to the story. So I wrote a novella, which was awful, then wrote Field of Graves, which wasn’t horrible. It was my very first full-length novel. (And yes, this all happened a decade ago. Which is wild.)

Field of Graves landed me my agent but didn’t sell, so I put it in a drawer, jokingly called it “my 80,000 words of backstory,” and wrote the next book in the series, All The Pretty Girls, which was my official debut. Field of Graves introduces Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson, and the case of the University Killer results in Dr. John Baldwin, FBI profiler, joining the team. It’s the origin story for Taylor and Baldwin, and for Samantha—a prequel to both their series.

When I decided to publish it, I did a complete rewrite from top to bottom. Because it hadn’t sold, I had convinced myself it was terrible—so terrible, in fact, that I asked three beta readers to tell me if it stood a chance of working after a revision. They loved it and couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t been published. When I read it, I realized it wasn’t horrible. It needed work, a polish, but it was a solid tale. It’s amazing what rejection can do to an author’s psyche. All these years I felt like I wasn’t good enough, and it affected me greatly.

Why is Nashville a great setting for a crime novel? How key is setting to this kind of story?

In crime fiction, I think any time you step away from a major metropolitan area, your setting has to be a character. Nashville is a misunderstood town. The world knows it as the home of country music, yet it’s a much more complex, dynamic city than it first appears. We have the old South rubbing elbows with newfound fame and fortune. We have a serious dichotomy between the upper and lower classes, and a lot of crime. We have problems with gangs, with drugs, with the usual junk any city has to deal with. Add in that the city is fabulously beautiful, the food is to die for, and there’s a cosmopolitan air that many never hear or see, and you have a huge canvas to draw from.

I love writing about Nashville. This town has been very good to me.

What is it about Taylor Jackson that you find compelling to write?

She can be difficult to write, actually, because she’s so black and white. She’s an iconic hero, and there’s not a lot of change that happens to her over the course of a novel. Rookie mistake—limited narrative arc. She’s very single-minded: There’s good, there’s evil, and there’s nothing in between. She knows where she falls, and where everyone else should fall, too. She is insulted by the idea of crime, in many ways.

Having a character with a strict moral compass is a lot of fun. I love to put her in situations that have shades of gray and make her deal with them. And she loves her town. She loves being Nashville’s protector. I’ve always seen her as Athena, the warrior-goddess of Nashville.

How important is it to have a strong supporting cast for your lead?

Very. I love my cast of characters, they’re family. I was so happy to come back to them, to see them fresh and new, unchanged by what eventually happens to each of them as the series progresses. I think that’s the beauty of having a prequel that was already written: I didn’t have to try and rewind the characters to imagine who they were before. They were untouched. Story-wise, there were some organic problems, so I had to make changes to allow for things to set up properly in the subsequent novels. Samantha Owens, Taylor’s best friend, is vital to the stories, and Taylor’s team is newly assembled when this book opens. They’re finding their way through the case together. And that’s the thing about an ensemble cast—they’re dependent on each other to make it all flow.

You’ve written a number of bestsellers and received notable acclaimwhat keeps you motivated and challenged?

Fear. No, I’m serious. One of the beautiful things about this book—I wrote it in a vacuum. I didn’t have deadlines, I didn’t have deals, I certainly didn’t have readers. There was no expectation, no pressure. Nowadays, that isn’t the case (though 90 percent of the pressure I’m under is self-inflicted). I just want to keep swinging for the fences and hope people love my books as much as I love writing them. It’s funny, though, the deeper you get into a career, the harder it gets to stay detached from the work. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something very humbling and terrifying about people actually reading the books and wanting more of them.

What are you working on next?

I am writing the next Samantha Owens novel—it’s actually a Taylor Jackson book, too. All Fall Down sees the two working together to take down a serial killer targeting Sam, and a bigger threat is looming for them both. It’s the continuation of the story I started in What Lies Behind; the two are a duology. I ended on a rather large cliffhanger that needs to be resolved, STAT.

Which authors inspire you?

I am constantly amazed by how many incredibly talented authors there are out there. I mean, seriously, walk into any bookstore and run your fingers along the shelves, and there they are, the heroes of the literary world. I admire so many authors it would take years to list them all, but I’m truly inspired by those who are consistently creating excellent work year after year, and their craft gets better and better. Writers like Jeff Abbott, Harlan Coben, John Connolly, Lisa Gardner, Laura Benedict, Ariel Lawhon, Victoria Schwab, Meg Gardiner—they keep me up at night, both reading late and wondering how to get that good. We’re blessed, truly, by the number of incredible authors in our ranks.

Is there anything you’re reading or watching these days that’s particularly caught your attention that you’d like to plug?

I need great storytelling to refill my well, so I’m a big fan of excellent scripted episodic television. Game of Thrones and Outlander are high on my list, of course, but my husband and I just binged on The Magicians, based on Lev Grossman’s books. Think adult-themed Harry Potter. Outside of Quentin Coldwater’s character (who I think Jason Ralph has played to sheer perfection), the story is loosely based on the books, but they’ve done a magnificent job. The acting is wonderful, perfectly over-the-top, and the dialogue crisp and funny. I’m sorry it’s over for the season.

Great to be with you, Alex. Thanks for this, and good luck with your excellent books!

Via: JT Ellison