On A Book’s Path…

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but Feb­ru­ary 25, my eleventh novel will be born into the world. WHEN SHADOWS FALL is the third Saman­tha Owens novel, a sem­i­nal book in the series, as it decides the course of action for the next several books.

Every series has a path, planned or unplanned. When I started writ­ing my Tay­lor Jack­son series, I had no idea it was going to be a series. I hadn’t thought about extended story, struc­ture, char­ac­ter devel­op­ment. I cre­ated a finite char­ac­ter in a finite world, and it was dif­fi­cult to see where to take the books.

With Sam, it was the oppo­site. I knew I wanted a char­ac­ter who could grow and change remark­ably. I knew I wanted to allow her the free­dom to move around the coun­try, the world, with rel­a­tive ease. As my then edi­tor and I were plan­ning the first book in the series, I men­tioned I wanted Sam to be the Indi­ana Jones of foren­sic pathol­ogy. The idea stuck.

What hap­pens in this book wasn’t sup­posed to hap­pen until book 4 in the series. It’s funny, the same thing hap­pened to me in the Tay­lor series. The third book, JUDAS KISS, was sup­posed to be the fourth. I made men­tion of my idea for it, hop­ing to entice my edi­tor to buy the book when I was fin­ished with the third I had planned. Instead, she jumped on the idea and told me in no uncer­tain terms this was the ONE.

So when I found myself in the same posi­tion this time, I knew what I needed to do. Aban­don the story and move the next book into its place. I couldn’t let Sam lan­guish in her sor­row any longer. It was time for her to move on. To start anew. Insert res­ur­rec­tion clauses here.

Of course, Sam wasn’t aware of the change her life was about to take. She wasn’t par­tic­u­larly ready to move on, not really. And I had to tell her, Too bad, sis­ter. I’ll let you have some onscreen sex to make up for it.

I think its one of the most part of the fun being a writer, this game you play with your char­ac­ters. I once asked a very famous writer about how char­ac­ters some­times do their own thing, and he looked at me like I was a recent escapee from an insane asy­lum and declared his char­ac­ters would never do such a thing because they only did what he told them to do.

I find that so sad. I like that my char­ac­ters and I have this sort of push and pull rela­tion­ship. They give me some of what I want, I give them some of what they want. In the end, we’re all happy and mov­ing on to the next adven­ture. At least, that’s the plan. After wrestling alli­ga­tors with them for 500 pages, they damn well bet­ter be ready to move on. Cause if they’re not, they often end up dead. Or maimed. Or mar­ried off, or on the run.

Poor char­ac­ters. Poor, poor char­ac­ters. Bet­ter behave, or I’ll make your life hell.

But Sam behaved, and she was rewarded with many excit­ing things, all of which set up the rest of the series. I’m not one-hundred per­cent sure where we go from here, but I love that book three has become this sem­i­nal turn­ing point for the Sam. And as such, for Xan­der and Fletcher too. The whole cast is being thrust into a new world because I got impa­tient. I hope they con­tinue to behave!

J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fifteen critically acclaimed thrillers 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. She is also the co-host of A Word on Words, Nashville's premier literary TV series, which airs on Nashville Public Television. She lives with her husband and twin kittens in Nashville. Visit JTEllison.com, and follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick or at Facebook.com/JTEllison14.