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J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of seventeen critically acclaimed novels, including NO ONE KNOWS, WHAT LIES BEHIND, and ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, and is the coauthor of the “A Brit in the FBI” series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. J.T. also cohosts the EMMY® Award-winning television series, A Word on Words.
With over a million books in print, Ellison’s work has been published in twenty-six countries and fourteen languages. Her novel THE COLD ROOM won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original and Where All The Dead Lie was a RITA® nominee for Best Romantic Suspense. She is also the author of multiple short stories.
Ellison grew up in Colorado and Virginia. After graduating from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and receiving her master’s degree from George Washington University, she was a presidential appointee and worked in The White House and the Department of Commerce before moving into the private sector to work as a financial analyst and marketing director for several defense and aerospace contractors.
After moving to Nashville, Ellison began to research her hidden passions, forensics and crime, and was compelled to begin writing down her stories. To research her books, she has worked with the Metro Nashville Police Department and the FBI, as well as performing autopsies and studying survivalists.
In 2012, Ellison teamed up with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter to co-write a new FBI series. The first book, THE FINAL CUT, released in September of 2013 and hit every major bestseller list. The series continues with THE LOST KEY, THE END GAME, and THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE.
Ellison published her first standalone novel, NO ONE KNOWS, a Nashville-based domestic thriller, in March 2016 with Gallery Books. Her next standalone, LIE TO ME, will be available September 5, 2017.
She also has co-written with Erica Spindler and Alex Kava on two anthology collaborations: SLICES OF NIGHT and STORM SEASON.
J.T.’s interests go beyond writing books—she publishes them, too. In 2015, Ellison founded her own independent publishing house, Two Tales Press, which features spine-chilling short stories and novellas, including THE FIRST DECADE. An avid oenophile, Ellison teamed up with her right-hand, Amy Kerr, to launch The Wine Vixen, a wine review website focusing on all varietals and price ranges.
In 2015, Ellison was named a cohost of the Nashville literary television series A Word on Words. The series was hosted by respected journalist John Seigenthaler for more than 40 years and remains a favorite among viewers. The rebooted show builds on Mr. Seigenthaler’s distinguished legacy with an exciting new version of the literary series. The show won its first Emmy for Best Interstitial in 2017. Follow #keepreading for more updates on the show guests and lively literary discussions.
She lives with her husband and twin kittens in Nashville, where she enjoys fine wine and good notebooks.
I grew up on a variety of dirt roads in the wilds of Colorado, relying on fantasy and imagination to pass the time, along with outings to smell tree bark, climb rocks and wander, lonely as a cloud, along the dirt roads, getting rocks in my shoes and communing with the deer. It was a simple, beautiful place to grow up, but with only 3 students in my class from kindergarten through 2nd grade, something was needed to pass the time, and my imagination was supplemented by voracious reading habits. From a very young age I was drawn to crime fiction, most likely because I thought Perry Mason was God. No, not a god, but God himself. No flowing robes and long white beard for the younger me, when I said my nightly prayers, it was Perry Mason who appeared in my thoughts.
And that’s the best word to describe me. My novels are dark and thrilling, full of cops and killers and things that go bump in the night. Which is wrong on many levels, since I grew up reading lovely books pilfered from my parents’ bookshelves. Poetry and romance and science fiction. But along the way to those formative teenage years, I found John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson, and a certain bloodlust was born.
My life altered in unimaginable ways when I was 14 and my parents moved me from the backwoods of Colorado to Washington, D.C. Not having to drive 30 miles to the nearest store was only one of many culture shocks. I attended Langley High School in McLean, Virginia, where I didn’t fit in at all, but was surrounded by wonderful friends and teachers anyway. I went on to graduate from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with a double major in Politics and English Creative Writing and a minor in Economics. I thought I’d go on to earn an MFA, but my thesis advisor wouldn’t write a recommendation, declaring in hushed tones that I wasn’t good enough a writer to ever be published.
Ha! Showed her.
But at the time, her words cut like a knife through my budding artist’s soul, so I quit writing and went into politics. And thank goodness I did, because I used my meager writing skills to get into George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, and on the first night, a really cute boy walked in. His name was Randy, he was from Nashville, Tennessee, and the next night, when he kissed me for the first time, I knew I was in love. Capital L love.
Everything happens for a reason.
Fast-forward through a succession of incredibly cool jobs including working in the Executive Office of the President in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, (yep, The White House) and being a dogsbody/speechwriter to the Secretary of Commerce. I went on to work for my father’s alma mater, Lockheed Martin, and started a love-hate relationship with marketing.
I married the cute boy on a warm summer day, and after a few years in the D.C. rat race, he decided he wanted to go home. So we settled in Nashville. The perfect mix of city and country, because remember, at heart I am a country mouse.
And of course I couldn’t find a job. And then my cat died. And just as I was thinking maybe Nashville wasn’t such a great idea, another kitten came into my life. A sick kitten, who needed treatment to live. We named her Jade, and I ended up working for the vet who saved her life. But that job wasn’t a good match, and as I was getting ready to quit, I hurt my back and needed surgery to fix it.
And guess what happened then?
I found a writer by the name of John Sandford. Three books into his Prey series, I was bubbling over with ideas. And realized I wanted to be a writer again.
Eight years after that ill-fated conversation with my thesis advisor, I dipped my toe back into the creative waters. In college my advisors used to hate my work, saying about my stories, and I quote, “…it reads too much like B-Grade detective fiction.” So that’s where I focused my efforts, because one person’s “B-Grade detective fiction” is another’s Hitchcock, Hemingway, Du Maurier, Nabokov, Connolly, Sandford, Child, Gerritsen, Gardner, Spindler, Kava, Abbott, Flynn, Coben…
Many novels later, I still live in Nashville, which I adore, with my husband of many years , whom I also adore, with the ghost of the kitten who set me on the path to becoming a writer again, and the twin kittens she helped find for us. I answer the call of the Muse daily, and am thrilled that I can share my crazy little inventions with you.