THE SIXTH DAY is now available in mass market paperback!

Tomorrow is an exciting day! THE LAST SECOND, the sixth book in the A Brit In The FBI series, releases and so does the mass market paperback of THE SIXTH DAY. To celebrate, here’s a look at what went into the research for THE SIXTH DAY.

*******

Let’s talk about building a book. The research that went into THE SIXTH DAY was astounding. 

For me, writing an international thriller with historical components is sort of like making French onion soup out of apples — in other words, an uphill battle. Or magic. I like the magic analogy better, let’s go with that.

Even though I’m not doing it alone, this magic gets its essence from the minute details. Elizabeth George just did an interview in which she described the moment a piece of her latest book came together for her:

“Seeing the place is really helpful in developing the plot, because if I don’t go, there are things I simply won’t know,” she explains. “For example, for the new book I went to Ludlow, and when I visited the police station, it was closed. There was an intercom and video-camera setup at the building which connected people with the police and emergency services. That became a hugely important plot point in the book.”

For me, physical proximity is the secret behind good research. You can study everything, read all the books, read all the articles, but if you can actually go to the spot you’re writing about, plot points can appear out of the ether. I can give you oodles of moments this has happened to me, book after book. Heck, a trip to Scotland saved WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE — I had the winter colors all wrong. Trees, grass, flowers, skies… How embarrassing would that have been?

I know travel isn’t always possible, so at the very least, a few hours spent on Google Earth will go a long way. You won’t get all five senses (and trust me, how someplace smells creates all kinds of interesting ideas), but you’ll at least see what people wear, what it looks like when it rains, etc.

And the facts you see in the novel are fractional compared to the work done on the back end. There’s a reason we call research an iceberg, after all. You only see the tip. I’ve literally spent days on certain topics in order to put one single fact into the manuscript. I like to joke I get a Ph.D. on every book, but it really is true. 

I have a somewhat organized way of researching my novels.

If I’m working on research online, as I’m going deep into a topic, any link that I touch that has any sort of relevance to the book immediately gets bookmarked. If I know it’s relevant, it goes into its own folder in Evernote. If it’s possibly relevant, it goes to Instapaper, and then gets shuttled into Evernote if I find anything worthwhile. I also sign up for newsletters, subscribe to online magazines, join Facebook groups. Anything that will allow me hands-on experience with the people who actually do the work or live in the world I’m researching. (Dark Web for hacking info, anyone? 😈)

Once the research is conducted, I usually print it out and put it in a huge Circa binder.That way, if the internet crashes, I have my research. And of course, let’s not forget the books — easy to work with there, just slap a Post-it note and write it up in my notebook. Same for movies and television shows related to the story. I have two massive bookshelves in my office that cover everything from the occult to FBI to falconry. I call it the database.

For THE SIXTH DAY, I have over 200 individual links in my Evernote. From hacking to falcons to the Voynich to hemophilia to LSD, they are a roadmap of memories to building a book. I love that record, too. It’s as evocative as a playlist for me. I can remember the exact moment I saw a certain story and what idea it triggered — and often, I make a note about that in my files, for posterity. 

Hopefully, I get it all right. But as huge as these novels are, sometimes I blow it. A fact gets reversed, or the source material is incorrect, or I just plain read and interpret wrong. Hopefully, those mistakes are minimal. Because ugh! Fingers crossed it’s all perfect in this one.

I hope you enjoy all the crazy research that went into THE SIXTH DAY. Catherine and I had a blast with it. 

Get the Mass Market Paperback—On Sale March 26

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
BOOKS-A-MILLION
INDIEBOUND
INDIGO
TARGET


Catch up with the whole series!

THE FINAL CUT: A Brit In The FBI #1

From Catherine Coulter, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the FBI Thriller series, and J.T. Ellison, bestselling author and ITW Award winner, comes the first book in a brilliant new international thriller series featuring a new hero: American-born, UK-raised Nicholas Drummond.

Scotland Yard’s new chief inspector Nicholas Drummond is on the first flight to New York when he learns his colleague, Elaine York, the “minder” of the Crown Jewels for the “Jewel of the Lion” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was found murdered. Then the centerpiece of the exhibit, the infamous Koh-i-Noor Diamond, is stolen from the Queen Mother’s crown. Drummond, American-born but raised in the UK, is a dark, dangerous, fast-rising star in the Yard who never backs down. And this case is no exception.  
 
Special Agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich from Coulter’s bestselling FBI series don’t hesitate to help Drummond find the cunning international thief known as the Fox. Nonstop action and high stakes intensify as the chase gets deadly. The Fox will stop at nothing to deliver the Koh-i-Noor to the man who believes in its deadly prophecy.  Nicholas Drummond, along with his partner, FBI Special Agent Mike Caine, lay it on the line to retrieve the diamond for Queen and country.


THE LOST KEY: A Brit In The FBI #2

Freshly minted FBI agent Nicholas Drummond is barely out of his Quantico training when he and his partner, Mike Caine, are called to investigate a stabbing on Wall Street.  

Their investigation, however, yields more questions than answers. It quickly becomes clear that the victim, John Pearce, was more than the naval historian and antiquities dealer he appeared to be. What Drummond doesn’t know is that buying and selling rare books was Pearce’s cover, and that he had devoted his life to discovering the whereabouts of a missing World War I U-boat concealing a stash of gold bullion, and an unexpected surprise that only raises more questions. When Drummond and Caine find both of Pearce’s adult children have disappeared, the case assumes a new sense of urgency. The FBI agents know their best lead lies in the victim’s cryptic final words—“The key is in the lock.” But what key? What lock?

The search for Adam and Sophia Pearce takes them on an international manhunt, which threatens to run them afoul of an eccentric billionaire industrialist with his own plans not only for the lost gold, but the creation of a weapon unlike anything the world has ever seen.


THE END GAME: A Brit In The FBI #3

FBI agent Nicholas Drummond and his partner, Mike Caine, are deep into an investigation of COE—Celebrants of the Earth—a violent group known for widespread bombings of power grids and oil refineries across the country.

While investigating a tip from a civilian who’s overheard about a possible bombing plot, the Bayway Refinery in New Jersey explodes. Nicholas and Mike race to the scene and barely escape being killed by a secondary device.
 
Returning to the civilian’s home to continue their interrogation, they discover the tipster—and the FBI team left to guard him—dead. While Nicholas calls in the assassinations, COE strikes again, this time launching a cyber-attack on several major oil companies and draining their financial and intellectual assets.
 
But COE has been infiltrated by a deep-cover counterterrorism agent named Vanessa Grace. A bomb-making expert, Vanessa must leave COE and join forces with Nicholas and Mike to stop the organization’s devious plan to assassinate the President. But there’s an assassin on the loose who could tip the scales in COE’s favor, and no one knows his ultimate target, or who has contracted his services.
 
Working with the CIA, the Secret Service, Mossad, MI-5, and even Savich and Sherlock, Nicholas and his team put their lives on the line to prevent another conflagration—and save the President.


THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE: A Brit In The FBI #4

FBI Special Agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine are the government’s Covert Eyes—leading a top-notch handpicked team of agents to tackle crimes and criminals both international and deadly. But their first case threatens their fledgling team when the Fox calls from Venice asking for help.

Kitsune has stolen an incredible artifact from the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, and now the client wants her dead. She has a warning for Nick and Mike: she’s overheard talk that a devastating Gobi desert sandstorm that’s killed thousands in Beijing isn’t a natural phenomenon, rather is produced by man. The Covert Eyes team heads to Venice, Italy, to find out the truth.

From New York to Venice and from Rome to the Bermuda Triangle, Nicholas and Mike and their team are in a race against time, and nature herself, to stop an obsessed family from devastating Washington, D.C.

The Sixth Day Trade Paperback is Here!

Happy Release day to us! THE SIXTH DAY trade paperback is on sale today! Look at this gorgeous artwork! It’s stunning, and I love it! To celebrate, here are some insights about how we put together the book, the research we did, and a few other little tidbits. Hope you enjoy!


I’ll be the first to admit, naming the 5th book in the Brit in the FBI series THE SIXTH DAY shows a small lack of foresight on our part, as now that the 6th book is underway, I keep finding myself saving files to the Sixth Day folder. A small price to pay, though, for what I think is the most intricate, intense ride of the series thus far.

Set in London, Nicholas and Mike are up against a villain who thinks he’s a descendent of Vlad the Impaler, and believes the lost pages of the Voynich Manuscript hold the answers to save his twin brother from the grips of severe hemophilia. (Get it - vampires, hemophilia…) Plus, there is some high-tech madness, and a drone army, and falcons named after the original Cabal. Trust me when I say Nicholas and Mike have their hands full. 

You might wonder how Catherine and I cook up these crazy plots. Normally, we meet at her place in California, but for this book, we set up shop in a lovely hotel in Manhattan, with oodles of tea and bacon (the staples of life) being brought by room service, and started throwing ideas against the wall.  We had two basic concepts to start with — the Voynich Manuscript and Vlad Dracul —  and we tossed out plot twists until they began to gel into a plausible story. 

We had so many cool ideas for THE SIXTH DAY I often wondered how we would manage to fit them all in. But we did, and the result is a mind-bending thriller that will leave you breathless. 

A part of this book’s inspiration was a family affair. I have to give props to my dad and my brothers for inspiring the falcons in the book. We were walking on the beach last year and my eldest brother mentioned a documentary he’d seen about a falcon hospital in Saudi Arabia. My dad had forwarded me a story about the French using eagles and falcons to take down drones just days before … and my middle brother mentioned he’d recently seen a story about a Saudi Prince booking seats for 80 of his falcons on board a plane. I was hooked on these ideas and ran to Catherine and said — Roman has to be a falconer. She bought in immediately, for which I will be forever grateful.

In that vein, I also have to give props to Helen Macdonald for her incredible book H IS FOR HAWK (recommended to me years ago by my very first editor, so how’s that for full circle), and Deborah Harkness for introducing me to the Voynich in her incredible ALL SOULS series. These inspirations truly helped bring this book to life.

Thanks to all!

I hope you enjoy THE SIXTH DAY – let me know what you think!

Get Your Trade Paperback Now!
 

AMAZON 
BARNES & NOBLE
BOOKS-A-MILLION
INDIEBOUND 
INDIGO
TARGET

or

Download the eBook

KINDLE 
NOOK 
iBOOKS 
KOBO 
GOOGLE PLAY


Let’s celebrate with a giveaway!

I have 10 copies of the trade paperback up for grabs! Giveaway is US-only (sorry, international folks!) and ends this Friday November 16. Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below or by going here.

Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 4.29.18

Welcome to Sunday, gentle readers. Time to grab some tea, kick up your feet, and lazily read my favorite reads of the week.


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

15 of the best Shakespeare tattoos. Which one is your favorite? I'm partial to #2, myself.
 

How to Make a Fruitfly Orgasm. Most interesting headline of the week, for sure...
 

This Joan Didion essay will change the way you think about keeping a journal. "Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether..."
 

"Ask Benedict to say the word 'penguin.' " Oh my, this is priceless. I love a man who can laugh at himself!
 

Time management Monday: Just Don’t Do It. Fabulous advice. This is how I prune my To Do lists.
 

The best method for cooking asparagus is 2000 years old. If it ain't broke...
 

Advice to writers: You can't write what you wouldn't read. Brilliant advice from Queen Nora.


And closer to home:

The LIE TO ME ebook is only $2.99 until tomorrow! Dirt cheap, y'all—less than a latte, and maybe provides a little more adrenaline.

10 of you can win a copy of THE SIXTH DAY from Shelf Awareness! Throw your hat in the ring on this one. 


That's it from me. Y'all give a treat to the neighborhood cat, send a just-because card to a friend, and we'll talk again soon.

xo,
J.T.

______

Never miss a post! Subscribe to the blog or get email updates.

Could You Catch a Killer?

Who doesn't want to be as suave as Nicholas? As badass as Mike?

I know I do.

That's the magic of these stories, isn't it? The idea that maybe you could slip on the skin of an an FBI agent and catch the people harming innocents around the world—or even someone you love.

But do you have what it takes? Could you catch a killer? 

Then tell me how you did!
 

P.S. You only have to leave your name to comment! The adding your email address and URL is optional.

3 Comments

J.T. Ellison

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

For more insight into her wicked imagination, join J.T.’s email list at jtellison.com/subscribe, or follow her online at Facebook.com/JTEllison14 or on Twitter @thrillerchick.

How we did the research for THE SIXTH DAY

How we did the research for THE SIXTH DAY

Having a new book baby out in world is a mixed bag of emotions. It feels a bit like jumping off a cliff with no parachute: sheer excitement coupled with abject terror. Why? Well, because the book is no longer your own. It’s one thing to build a book. It’s something different to have strangers read it.

So let’s talk about building a book. THE SIXTH DAY hit shelves Tuesday, and the research that went into it was astounding. 

For me, writing an international thriller with historical components is sort of like making French onion soup out of apples — in other words, an uphill battle. Or magic. I like the magic analogy better, let’s go with that.

Even though I’m not doing it alone, this magic gets its essence from the minute details. Elizabeth George just did an interview in which she described the moment a piece of her latest book came together for her:

“Seeing the place is really helpful in developing the plot, because if I don’t go, there are things I simply won’t know,” she explains. “For example, for the new book I went to Ludlow, and when I visited the police station, it was closed. There was an intercom and video-camera setup at the building which connected people with the police and emergency services. That became a hugely important plot point in the book.”

For me, physical proximity is the secret behind good research. You can study everything, read all the books, read all the articles, but if you can actually go to the spot you’re writing about, plot points can appear out of the ether. I can give you oodles of moments this has happened to me, book after book. Heck, a trip to Scotland saved WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE — I had the winter colors all wrong. Trees, grass, flowers, skies… How embarrassing would that have been?

I know travel isn’t always possible, so at the very least, a few hours spent on Google Earth will go a long way. You won’t get all five senses (and trust me, how someplace smells creates all kinds of interesting ideas), but you’ll at least see what people wear, what it looks like when it rains, etc.

And the facts you see in the novel are fractional compared to the work done on the back end. There’s a reason we call research an iceberg, after all. You only see the tip. I’ve literally spent days on certain topics in order to put one single fact into the manuscript. I like to joke I get a Ph.D. on every book, but it really is true. 

I have a somewhat organized way of researching my novels.

If I’m working on research online, as I’m going deep into a topic, any link that I touch that has any sort of relevance to the book immediately gets bookmarked. If I know it’s relevant, it goes into its own folder in Evernote. If it’s possibly relevant, it goes to Instapaper, and then gets shuttled into Evernote if I find anything worthwhile. I also sign up for newsletters, subscribe to online magazines, join Facebook groups. Anything that will allow me hands-on experience with the people who actually do the work or live in the world I’m researching. (Dark Web for hacking info, anyone? 😈)

Once the research is conducted, I usually print it out and put it in a huge Circa binder. That way, if the internet crashes, I have my research. And of course, let’s not forget the books — easy to work with there, just slap a Post-it note and write it up in my notebook. Same for movies and television shows related to the story. I have two massive bookshelves in my office that cover everything from the occult to FBI to falconry. I call it the database.

For THE SIXTH DAY, I have over 200 individual links in my Evernote. From hacking to falcons to the Voynich to hemophilia to LSD, they are a roadmap of memories to building a book. I love that record, too. It’s as evocative as a playlist for me. I can remember the exact moment I saw a certain story and what idea it triggered — and often, I make a note about that in my files, for posterity. 

Hopefully, I get it all right. But as huge as these novels are, sometimes I blow it. A fact gets reversed, or the source material is incorrect, or I just plain read and interpret wrong. Hopefully, those mistakes are minimal. Because ugh! Fingers crossed it’s all perfect in this one.

I hope you enjoy all the crazy research that went into THE SIXTH DAY. Catherine and I had a blast with it. 

Now, on to book 6! (It only has 130 links bookmarked so far…)

 

Writers, how do you do your research? And Readers, is there anything that drives you crazy on research-heavy books?  What do you love to see?