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J.T. Ellison | How I Came To Write The Book


"So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack."

Angel – Sarah McLachlan

Such a sad song. But so inspiring, so uplifting. I have strange affinity for this song. According to sources, Sarah McLachlan wrote it in response to the heroin overdose of Jonathan Melvoin, from Smashing Pumpkins. He was only thirty-four, another life cut short by addiction. It's a fitting eulogy for a friend. Oddly, Smashing Pumpkins song Disarm inspired my very first attempt at a novel, so I find the symmetry agreeable, to say the least.

As I was beginning to write SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH, I heard Angel. I must have hit repeat fifty times. I knew, immediately, that this was how my main character, Taylor Jackson, was feeling.

In a word, she's miserable. And misery isn't a normal state of being for Taylor.

The story was conceived after I heard the song, and those particular lyrics. The words just spoke to me, the tone of the song overwhelmed my senses, and I knew exactly how to begin. The book is set on the idea of a tone. A rather amorphous beginning, but it came together rather quickly.

Taylor starts the book in a very bad place. Over the course of the previous five books, I have put this woman through hell. She's been forced to kill, forced to defend her reputation. She’s in a relationship with the first man she's ever truly loved, and it scares her. Her city has in turns held her up and turned against her. Her father figure and second in command is missing, and she's just killed again, this time a murder suspect who is still a child.

And the man who's been haunting her every waking moment, haunting her dreams, playing a devious game of cat and mouse with her for over a year, is making his last move on the chess board.

She knows people are going to die. People always do around Taylor. Mostly bad people, but some innocents as well. And she's just so tired of it. It's not fair. And when the Pretender decides to start hurting the people she loves, watch out. She won't stand for it.

But taking life isn't why she became a cop. She wants to protect life. She's vowed to save people. Yet she's killed this kid, and her Pete Fitzgerald has gone missing, her fiancé has been keeping a major secret from her, and she's feeling completely alone in the world. I knew she’d be in this incredibly somber, reflective place.

So I planned the book around that somber tone. It's a serious book. It deals with serious issues, issues Taylor never thought she’d have to deal with. But this is her world now. It’s gotten messy, and she must get it cleaned up. And this time, she will stop at nothing—nothing—to make that happen.

Revenge is a tricky subject, especially for someone who has vowed to protect lives, not take them. It can't be undertaken lightly. You must be willing to sacrifice everything, yourself most of all. It changes a person.

My morally upright white hat has suddenly become a vengeful angel.

So with the release of SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH, I invite you into Taylor's world. And I leave you with this thought.

What would you do if everything you held dear was suddenly in jeopardy?

J.T. Ellison




39 comments posted.

Re: J.T. Ellison | How I Came To Write The Book

Great post. Its cool to see inside the story this way and how it developed. Cant wait to read it.
(Donna Simmonds 12:37pm March 15, 2011)

I would fight with every breath if everything, or rather everyone, I held dear was in jeopardy.
(Mary Preston 2:33am March 15, 2011)

Good inspiration. I've read the book and enjoyed it. If everthing I held dear were in jeopardy I would hope to do all I could to fix it.
(Ramona Glass 3:24am March 15, 2011)

This sounds very suspenseful. Taylor must be one tough lady.
(Pamela Stewart 5:47am March 15, 2011)

Discover the cause and remove it. This is no time to be tentative.
(Sandra Spilecki 5:54am March 15, 2011)

If everything you held dear was suddenly in jeopardy, I'd probably discover a whole new side to myself. At least I hope I'd be as brave as I need to be in such a situation.
(Birgit Lehner 6:25am March 15, 2011)

I would do anything I needed to do to protect them.It is amazing how strong I can be, when I have to.
(Debbie Penny 7:00am March 15, 2011)

I don't think that any of us really know just what we would do until we are faced with such a situation. Hopefully we would do what is necessary to solve the problem and protect what we love and cherish.
(Marjorie Carmony 7:06am March 15, 2011)

While you think that you know how you would react most people truly won't know till it happens. Many tales of heroism in the face of devastation in Japan, and faces of depair.
(Vikki Parman 8:51am March 15, 2011)

I would do everything and anything to make it right!
(Dawn Staniszeski 9:22am March 15, 2011)

Until tragedy hits you don't know what you would do. When do you quit fighting for those you love? When would you quit searching bulletin boards for a sign of them? When would you quit walking the area you last saw them? That would be when you die and give up on tomorrow if you were searching for your child. A child would probably forget faster and accept a new reality, but a mother's bond, love, would have her ripping the world apart in search of her child.
(Christina Harrison 10:00am March 15, 2011)

What would I do if everything I held dear was suddenly in jeopardy? I have no idea... I've been blessed with a lovely, peaceful life... I think that's one reason I seek adventure through books.
I would hope I could rise to the occasion and fight off whatever threat was at hand.
Your question is very thought provoking!
(Sonja Warmath 10:02am March 15, 2011)

I hope I would fight like a mother bear---but we never know how we will react until it happens.
(Sue Farrell 10:08am March 15, 2011)

Depends on they type of danger but regardless Id fight with everything I had in me to protect all I hold most precious to me.
(Julie Parrish 10:47am March 15, 2011)

I would do whatever I had to to protect those I loved. The book sounds great!
(June Manning 11:06am March 15, 2011)

What a hard hitting question. I would, of course, fight.
(G. Bisbjerg 11:08am March 15, 2011)

Amazing what lionesses even the gentlest women can become. I, too, would go at adversity with tooth and claw--and shovel and plow should that be required, because not every disaster requires actual violence. For some things we just need to get to work.
(Janet Martin 12:20pm March 15, 2011)

None of us know until we are actually faced with such a situation, but I hope I would defend my loved ones.
(Anna Speed 12:47pm March 15, 2011)

I hope I never have to face this but I'd like to think i'd do whatever it

BTW, my hubby loves that song too and also kept hitting repeat. The lyrics
are beautiful and I love her voice. But you can get too much of a good
(Mona Garg 12:56pm March 15, 2011)

I've been through it. My husband lost his job, and we lost our home of 13 years. My family turned their back on us, when we needed them the most. We ended up packing up what we could in our small pick-up truck and pop-up camper, grabbed the dog, and headed for the nearest campground, which was to be our new home. Our belongings and appliances were thrown to the curb by the mortgage company. I remained strong on the outside for my Husband's sake, but crumbled inside because I couldn't believe what I was experiencing!! I also have some health problems which prevent me from working and am under doctor's care. During this time, I had to put my faith in God to see us through this. Even though I was always there for my family, they changed after my Mother passed away about 2 years prior to my losing the house. I'm sure she was looking down on this and shaking her head. I found that blood is not thicker than water, and have now started a new life, with a new outlook. I also have new priorities, and would rather help a stranger, since any communication I have with my family is strained at the moment. It doesn't bother me, and I've gotten over losing my belongings. They'll never be replaced, since I can't afford to do so. Sorry to get carried away with my comments.
(Peggy Roberson 12:58pm March 15, 2011)

Copy Cat murders are always interesting! And this sounds like a great thriller! I love thrillers, and can't wait to read this one!
(Sandy Fielder 1:49pm March 15, 2011)

i can tell you a story i meet the guy the garbage bag killer in la his family ws great and then you never think form were he came from and then he became a close friend and then he did what he did now he teaches English and has about 4 doctor degree and other he has pay back and more but he learn his lesson but the book sound great would love to read and blog on your site and other and i twitted and face book
(Desiree Reilly 2:34pm March 15, 2011)

If my family was in jeopardy, I hope I would be strong enough and brave enough to do what is necessary to make them safe. I would fight dirty if that was what it took. For a number of reasons I have always been the peace maker, avoiding confrontation all costs. All bets are off if you go after my family.

A couple of years ago, I came across one of your books (sorry, I don't remember which one). I liked it so much that I promptly went out and bought everything else you had written. I continue to be a fan and just bought So Close The Hand of Death.

I wish you continued success so we all can enjoy your wonderful books!
(Karen Cherubino 3:09pm March 15, 2011)

Thanks for giving me a chance to win your book. It sounds wonderful.
(Linda Hall 3:30pm March 15, 2011)

Hard to know what we would do if someone we loved was in jeopardy,but if it was one of my boys I would be a lot braver. This sounds like a great story so I have put it on my TBR list. Thanks for the contest!
(Teresa Ward 5:15pm March 15, 2011)

This book sounds like lot's of fun thriller reading!!!!!!! I'm in to win!!!
(Joanne Bozik 5:17pm March 15, 2011)

There is nothing like a story that has continuing characters. We accept all their flaws that we wouldn't
in our personal friends. I can get lost in a book that keeps me as part of the story.(a hot day in July and I'm reading about frigid cold, I will pull on an afghan to warm)
I think your books are in that realm. I look forward to reading them.
(Rosemary Simm 5:52pm March 15, 2011)

I don't know what I'd do unless I were in that situation at that particular time.
(Leni Kaye 6:21pm March 15, 2011)

Sounds like an interesting woman... If one of my loved ones were in danger, I believe I would try to help in any way possible that I could...
(Colleen Conklin 6:45pm March 15, 2011)

I'm very protective of my family. If they were threatened, I would fight any way I could. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.
(G S Moch 7:39pm March 15, 2011)

I would not stop fighting till they were safe and sound in my arms!
(Diane Sadler 8:25pm March 15, 2011)

The story sounds fascinating and very intense. I don't think you know what you can do until you are put in the situation.
(Maureen Emmons 8:41pm March 15, 2011)

This is going to be a very dark tale. I think when you are faced with something like that - we can all be totally different from our normal personality. What wouldn't you do for those you love?
(Jessica Badeaux 9:52pm March 15, 2011)

Interesting! Would love to have a copy to read.
(Leanna Morris 10:03pm March 15, 2011)

If everything I hold dear was in jeopardy I would do whatever necessary to protect it, without hesitation. Good luck and happy writing!
(Tracie Travis 11:47pm March 15, 2011)

One can only guess what she would do in any situation but I believe that most of us would do everything humanly possible to protect our loved ones. All of us have tigers or lions inside, we just have to be pushed hard enough to bring them to life. I can't wait to read your latest story.
(Angela Bartlett 11:48pm March 15, 2011)

I would do anything for those I love, who wouldn't?
(Brenda Rupp 12:02pm March 16, 2011)

I'd do whatever it took to make things right.
(Kelli Jo Calvert 6:07pm March 16, 2011)

I think starting from a bad place makes sense, because there's got to be something good coming out of it. Right?
(Alyson Widen 11:33pm March 16, 2011)

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