Monday, August 1, 2016

Interview - J.T. Ellison - Review - Field of Graves

Those of you who know me well know that JT is one of my all time favorite authors, one I've loved since her very first Taylor Jackson Novel, All the Pretty Girls came out in 2007, that love affair continued when she started her Samantha Owens series with A Deeper Darkness in 2012 and when she and Catherine Coulter started their Brit in the FBI series with The Final Cut in 2013, and when she published her first ever stand-a-lone thriller, No One Knows earlier this year.  I even got to knock off a bucket list check when I got to meet her in person at a library event. Now she's gone back to the beginning and published a brand new Taylor Jackson novel that takes fans back before All the Pretty Girls just in time for all her Taylor Jackson novels to be re-issued.
Enjoy my showcase of this Brilliant author's latest novel, Field of Graves!

ISBN-13: 9780778318927
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: 06/14/2016
Length: 368pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo/IndieBound/Publisher


With FIELD OF GRAVES, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison goes back to where it all began…
All of Nashville is on edge with a serial killer on the loose. A madman is trying to create his own end-of-days apocalypse and the cops trying to catch him are almost as damaged as the killer. Field of Graves reveals the origins of some of J.T. Ellison's most famous creations: the haunted Lieutenant Taylor Jackson; her blunt, exceptional best friend, medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens; and troubled FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin. Together, they race the clock and their own demons to find the killer before he claims yet another victim. This dark, thrilling and utterly compelling novel will have readers on the edge of their seats, and Ellison's fans will be delighted with the revelations about their favorite characters.

Read an excerpt courtesy Mira:

Three months later
Nashville, Tennessee
Bodies, everywhere bodies, a field of graves, limbs and torsos and heads, all left above ground. The feeling of dirt in her mouth, grimy and thick; the whispers from the dead, long arms reaching for her as she passed through the carnage. Ghostly voices, soft and sibilant. “Help us. Why won’t you help us?
Taylor jerked awake, sweating, eyes wild and blind in the dark­ness. The sheets twisted around her body in a claustrophobic shroud, and she struggled to get them untangled. She squeezed her eyes shut, willed her breathing back to normal, trying to relax, to let the grisly images go. When she opened her eyes, the room was still dark but no longer menacing. Her screams had faded away into the silence. The cat jumped off the bed with a disgruntled meow in response to her thrashing.
She laid her head back on the pillow, swallowed hard, still unable to get a full breath.
Every damn night. She was starting to wonder if she’d ever sleep well again.
She wiped a hand across her face and looked at the clock: 6:10 a.m. The alarm was set for seven, but she wasn’t going to get any more rest. She might as well get up and get ready for work. Go in a little early, see what horrors had captured the city overnight.
She rolled off the bed, trying hard to forget the dream. Show­ered, dressed, dragged on jeans and a black cashmere T-shirt under a black motorcycle jacket, stepped into her favorite boots. Put her creds in her pocket and her gun on her hip. Pulled her wet hair off her face and into a ponytail.
Time to face another day.
She was in her car when the call came. “Morning, Fitz. What’s up?”
“Morning, LT. We have us a body at the Parthenon.”
“I’ll be right there.”
It might have become a perfect late-autumn morning. The sky was busy, turning from white to blue as dawn rudely forced its way into day. Birds were returning from their mysterious nocturnal errands, greeting and chattering about the night’s af­fairs. The air was clear and heavy, still muggy from the over­night heat but holding a hint of coolness, like an ice cube dropped into a steaming mug of coffee. The sky would soon shift to sapphire the way only autumn skies do, as clear and heavy as the precious stone itself.
The beauty of the morning was lost on Lieutenant Taylor Jackson, Criminal Investigation Division, Nashville Metro Po­lice. She snapped her long body under the yellow crime scene tape and looked around for a moment. Sensed the looks from the officers around her. Straightened her shoulders and marched toward them.
Metro officers had been traipsing around the crime scene control area like it was a cocktail party, drinking coffee and chatting each other up as though they’d been apart for weeks, not hours. The grass was already littered with cups, cigarette butts, crumpled notebook paper, and at least one copy of the morning’s sports section from The Tennessean. Taylor cursed silently; they knew better than this. These yahoos were going to inadvertently contaminate a crime scene one of these days, sending her team off on a wild-goose chase. Guess whose ass would be in the proverbial sling then?
She stooped to grab the sports page, surreptitiously glanced at the headline regaling the Tennessee Titans’ latest win, then crumpled it into a firm ball in her hands.
Taylor didn’t know what information about the murder had leaked out over the air, but the curiosity factor had obviously kicked into high gear. An officer she recognized from another sector was cruising by to check things out, not wanting to miss out on all the fun. Media vans lined the street. Joggers pretend­ing not to notice anything was happening nearly tripped try­ing to see what all the fuss was about. Exactly what she needed on no sleep: everyone willing to help, to get in and screw up her crime scene.
Striding toward the melee, she tried to tell herself that it wasn’t their fault she’d been up all night. At least she’d had a shower and downed two Diet Cokes, or she would have ar­rested them all.
She reached the command post and pasted on a smile. “Mornin’, kids. How many of you have dragged this crap through my crime scene?” She tossed the balled-up paper at the closest officer.
She tried to keep her tone light, as if she were amused by their shenanigans, but she didn’t fool anyone, and the levity disappeared from the gathering. The brass was on the scene, so all the fun had come to a screeching halt. Uniforms who didn’t belong started to drift away, one or two giving Taylor a sideways glance. She ignored them, the way she ignored most things these days.
As a patrol officer, she’d kept her head down, worked her cases, and developed a reputation for being a straight shooter. Her dedication and clean work had been rewarded with promo­tion after promotion; she was in plainclothes at twenty-eight. She’d caught a nasty first case in Homicide—the kidnapping and murder of a young girl. She’d nailed the bastard who’d done it; Richard Curtis was on death row now. The case made the national news and sent her career into overdrive. She quickly became known for being a hard-hitting investigator and moved up the ranks from detective to lead to sergeant, until she’d been given the plum job she had now—homicide lieutenant.
If her promotion to lieutenant at the tender age of thirty-four had rankled some of the more traditional officers on the force, the death of David Martin—one of their own—made it ten times worse. There were always going to be cops who tried to make her life difficult; it was part of being a chick on the force, part of having a reputation. Taylor was tough, smart, and liked to do things her own way to get the job done. The majority of the men she worked with had great respect for her abilities. There were always going to be detractors, cops who whispered behind her back, but in Taylor’s mind, success trumped rumor every time.
Then Martin had decided to ruin her life and nearly derailed her career in the process. She was still clawing her way back.
Taylor’s second in command, Detective Pete Fitzgerald, lum­bered toward her, the ever-present unlit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He’d quit a couple of years before, after a minor heart attack, but kept one around to light in case of an emer­gency. Fitz had an impressive paunch; his belly reached Taylor before the rest of his body.
“Hey, LT. Sorry I had to drag you away from your beauty sleep.” He looked her over, concern dawning in his eyes. “I was just kidding. What’s up with you? You look like shit warmed over.”
Taylor waved a hand in dismissal. “Didn’t sleep. Aren’t we supposed to have some sort of eclipse this morning? I think it’s got me all out of whack.”
Fitz took the hint and backed down. “Yeah, we are.” He looked up quickly, shielding his eyes with his hand. “See, it’s already started.”
He was right. The moon was moving quickly across the sun, the crime scene darkening by the minute. “Eerie,” she said.
He looked back at her, blinking hard. “No kidding. Remind me not to stare into the sun again.”
“Will do. Celestial phenomenon aside, what do we have here?”
“Okay, darlin’, here we go. We have a couple of lovebirds who decided to take an early morning stroll—found themselves a deceased Caucasian female on the Parthenon’s steps. She’s sit­ting up there pretty as you please, just leaning against the gate in front of the Parthenon doors like she sat down for a rest. Naked as a jaybird, and very, very dead.”
Taylor turned her gaze to the Parthenon. One of her fa­vorite sites in Nashville, smack-dab in the middle of Centen­nial Park, the full-size replica was a huge draw for tourists and classicists alike. The statue of Athena inside was awe-inspiring. She couldn’t count how many school field trips she’d been on here over the years. Leaving a body on the steps was one hell of a statement.
“Where are the witnesses?”
“Got the lovebirds separated, but the woman’s having fits—we haven’t been able to get a full statement. The scene’s taped off. Traffic on West End has been blocked off, and we’ve closed all roads into and around Centennial Park. ME and her team have been here about fifteen minutes. Oh, and our killer was here at some point, too.” He grinned at her lopsidedly. “He dumped her sometime overnight, only the duckies and geese in the lake saw him. This is gonna be a bitch to canvass. Do you think we can admit ‘AFLAC’ as a statement in court?”
Taylor gave him a quick look and a perfunctory laugh, more amused at imagining Fitz waddling about like the duck from the insurance ads quacking than at his irreverent attitude. She knew better, but it did seem as if he was having a good time. Taylor understood that sometimes, inappropriate attempts at humor were the only way a cop could make it through the day, so she chastised him gently. “You’ve got a sick sense of humor, Fitz.” She sighed, turning off all personal thoughts, becoming a cop again. All business, all the time. That’s what they needed to see from her.
“We’ll probably have to go public and ask who was here last night and when, but I’m not holding my breath that we’ll get anything helpful, so let’s put it off for now.”
He nodded in agreement. “Do you want to put up the chop­per? Probably useless—whoever dumped her is long gone.”
“I think you’re right.” She jerked her head toward the Par­thenon steps. “What’s he trying to tell us?”
Fitz looked toward the doors of the Parthenon, where the medical examiner was crouched over the naked body. His voice dropped, and he suddenly became serious. “I don’t know, but this is going to get ugly, Taylor. I got a bad feeling.”
Taylor held a hand up to cut him off. “C’mon, man, they’re all ugly. It’s too early to start spinning. Let’s just get through the morning. Keep the frickin’ media out of here—put ’em down in the duck shit if you have to. You can let them know which roads are closed so they can get the word out to their traffic helicopters, but that’s it. Make sure the uniforms keep everyone off the tape. I don’t want another soul in here until I have a chance to be fully briefed by all involved. Has the Park Police captain shown up yet?”
Fitz shook his head. “Nah. They’ve called him, but I haven’t seen him.”
“Well, find him, too. Make sure they know which end is up. Let’s get the perimeter of this park searched, grid by grid, see if we find something. Get K-9 out here, let them do an article search. Since the roads are already shut off, tell them to expand the perimeter one thousand feet outside the borders of the park. I want to see them crawling around like ants at a picnic. I see any of them hanging in McDonald’s before this is done, I’m kicking some butt.”
Fitz gave her a mock salute. “I’m on it. When Sam deter­mined she was dumped, I went ahead and called K-9, and pulled all the officers coming off duty. We may have an overtime situ­ation, but I figured with your, um, finesse…” He snorted out the last word, and Taylor eyed him coolly.
“I’ll handle it.” She pushed her hair back from her face and reestablished her hurried ponytail. “Get them ready for all hell to break loose. I’m gonna go talk to Sam.”
“Glad to serve, love. Now go see Sam, and let the rest of us grunts do our jobs. If you decide you want the whirlybird, give me a thumbs-up.” He blew her a kiss and marched toward the command post, snapping his fingers at the officers to get their attention.

Turning toward the building, she caught a stare from one of the older patrols. His gaze was hostile, lip curled in a sneer. She gave him her most brilliant smile, making his scowl deepen. She broke off the look, shaking her head. She didn’t have time to worry about politics right now.

JT Welcome as always to The Reading Frenzy. I loved, loved, loved Field of Graves. Tell us a little bit about it.
Thanks for having me back! FIELD OF GRAVES is the prequel to both the Taylor and Sam 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. Athena and Artemis. Add in Baldwin, and all sorts of mayhem ensues.

JT you’ve given Taylor a hiatus for the last few years. Why bring her back now and why in a prequel to the 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 for another project, and during the edits, 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. It was perfect timing to revisit Taylor and see how she and Sam really started out.

In our last interview in April introducing No One Knows we chatted a bit about how you and Taylor were both drained from all the cases you’d given her to solve. Readers get a reprieve between cases but I guess I never took into consideration how continually writing dark crime drama like this affects an author. Did constantly researching this kind of police procedural then writing the novel have an emotional impact on you?
Absolutely. When you write crime fiction, psychological thrillers, it’s like being in a darkened tent. It’s oppressive, claustrophobic, sad, and intense. When I live inside darkness for too long, I need to come out and breathe the fresh air, so to speak. I was gang-busters for it several years ago, but I did burn myself out on the constant examination of humanity’s worst traits—we can be so terrible to one another. A friend told me it’s just as easy to create tension by blowing up a mall as it is cutting throats. It was great advice, and I’ve gone in new directions since.

JT I’m always so impressed when an author builds a complete scene for her/his readers. Including not only dialogue but background sounds/events too. How do you build your scenes?
I’m very, very visual. Scenes play out for me in movie snippets. I see the characters, hear their discussion. They move around and I get their physical action. Once that scene has played in my mind several times, I write it down. It makes things very cinematic while I’m writing.

On July 26th Mira is reissuing All The Pretty Girls, book one in the Taylor Jackson series. Did you revise the novel at all?
Other than getting a few (ahem) rookie errors and typos fixed, no, this one is the same as the first release.

Can we expect the other books to be reissued too?
Yes, and hopefully the scheduling for that will be in place soon! New covers, too, which is awesome. I love the new branding my publisher, MIRA, is doing.

This has been a busy year for you first with the release of your first stand-alone thriller, No One Knows (which was fabulous) and now the release of Field of Graves. Did you write them both simultaneously or one then the other?
I’m not good at simultaneous writing. I’ve tried to work on creating two projects at once, and it never works, it kills my flow. But… I am a master at simultaneous thinking. I’m always looking ahead—writers do tend to live in the future. I write things down in my notebook so I won’t lose them, and keep trucking on the current project. I can edit one and write another just fine, thankfully!

Tell me about Two Tales Press
TTP is my indie press where I publish work that doesn’t fit the traditional model. Mostly short stories, some new, some old. I love the form and rarely get the chance to write in it anymore, but I squeak a few things in. Look for more from TTP soon, we’re putting together our first physical book!

What’s going on with the Brit in the FBI series you write in collaboration with Catherine Coulter?
THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE is the next title to be released, Nicholas #4. It’s out in March 2017, and it is one heck of a ride. I love this book. It’s the first one we truly outlined from start to finish and it’s has great energy and fun surrounding it.

JT Thanks as always for your gracious and generous time. Where can fans get a peek at you in the near future?
While I’m easily found on social media (though on sabbatical right now), the very best way to stay in touch is to sign up for my monthly email, which gives a little news, book recommendations, new release info, contests, and recipes!

Thanks for having me, Deb!!!

My Review

Field of Graves
JT Ellison

J.T. Ellison takes readers back to the genesis of her award winning Taylor Jackson series with a brilliantly delicious dark twisted tale of murder and madness. Starting with a huge bang from Taylor’s glock not a moment or emotion is wasted as JT spins her wonderful crime drama web giving her audience a perfect fly on the wall observation. Her eloquent prose like narrative and timely injection of humor enhances her cop-speak no-nonsense dialogue and lightens the dark content. Fans will get a look back and new fans a first look at her amazing, unforgettable stable of stars and co-stars. JT has amazed me with every novel and this one is no different and I can’t wait to see where she takes me next!

Lieutenant Taylor Jackson is still reeling from repercussions from a sticky professional situation that’s got her on edge and out of sorts, when she’s handed a vicious murder case. A female Vanderbilt student is found dead, ceremoniously posed naked at the Parthenon in Centennial Park. While she and her team start digging for clues another female Vanderbilt student’s body is found. Suddenly all Taylor’s previous dilemmas have to take a backseat to what she and her team are hoping is not but could be a serial killer preying on Nashville coeds. And to make matters worse now she’s got to babysit some burnt out feeb too. Just Perfect!

All the Pretty Girls
Available now!

Connect with JT - Website - Facebook - Twitter

MEET JT:J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen critically acclaimed novels, including WHAT LIES BEHIND, WHEN SHADOWS FALL, and ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, and is the co-author of the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. With over a million books in print, Ellison’s work has been published in twenty-five countries and thirteen 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.

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  1. So interesting that she brought an old character back! Great interview Debbie!

    1. I know and I missed her and am glad she's back

    2. Taylor will always be my first love.... I just can't quit her. ;)

  2. Oh this does sound really good. Great interview, ladies! Enjoyed getting the news on this book and other re/releases.

  3. I know so many readers love her books, I have yet to try her. What a thrill to actually meet her.

  4. All right you had me at serial killer! I enjoyed your interview, and added this to my list!

  5. Ahhh these are on my list too. They sound fantastic. I need more hours, Debbie! lol