Wednesday 17 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: JT ELLISON interviews JT ELLISON

1. Do you drink when you write?

Lord, no. I can barely read when I’ve had a glass of wine. It alters my perceptions of words and their meanings in a way I don’t like. Caffeine has the same effect – tears my concentration up. Contrary to popular belief, not all writers are Hemingway-esque alcoholics. Though it works for some.

2. Did growing up in a forest influence your writing?

Absolutely. Without video games and pedophiles on every corner and helicopter moms, we had a freedom kids nowadays wouldn’t know what to do with. We got kicked out of the house after breakfast and didn’t return until dinner. It was fantasyland, an idyllic, blissful world that was whatever I wanted to make it that day.

3. What games did you play as a child?

Chutes and Ladders, Life, Risk, Scrabble, Poker, Monopoly, Hungry Hungry Hippo (though my mother insists we never had that game) Yahtzee. Red Rover, kickball, tetherball, football with my brothers. But books, more than anything, dominated my time.

As I got older, Quarters and Truth or Dare were quite popular. I wasn’t much for dares, they always involved either stripping and running through someone’s back yard or kissing the boy next to you. With tongue. I probably became a writer during Truth or Dare, come to think of it. We all lied our tails off.

4. What games do you play as an adult?

How much time do you have?

In all seriousness, my playtime revolves around golf, wine, travel and learning Italian. I’m one of those jerks who goes to an Italian restaurant in the U.S. and suddenly gets fluent. But I need all the practice I can get.

5. Is the world going to come to a screeching halt once every single person has a Facebook Page and a Twitter account?

Yes. I predict that moment is high noon on December 21, 2012. The Mayans were on to something.

The idea that we are compelled to share every thought, movement and emotion freaks me out. Add location to the mix and I find myself retreating further and further. And the false intimacy of being “friends” with people who hated you in high school is unnerving. But it’s become somewhat necessary for marketing and promotion. I’m at the take it or leave it stage.

6. Why did you really decide to be a writer?

Honestly, you don’t choose writing, writing chooses you. It’s a gift, just like painters and singers and brilliant scientific minds. I think the art of writing comes as a natural extension of reading – so many stories build in our heads, we start to look at regular situations and insert fantastical actions, and voila, we’re telling a story. It’s a compulsion, not a choice.

7. Do you feel physical pain when you see a book page bent and dog-eared?

Yes. Books are treasures to me. Breaking spines, bending pages, rips in cover jackets – all of it kills me. I’m not a collector per se, but I understand the impulse to wrap books in clear plastic and use kid gloves when handling them. That said, if a book falls apart because it’s been read too much, that’s just fine.

8. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in your life, what would it be?

There’s not a lot that I can add, to be honest. Life is pretty darn good right now. Oh, no, I’ve got it. I wish I was driven to exercise. Like jogging. I’ve got a runner’s soul and a poet’s backside. As it happens, I have a bad back and a reconstructed shoulder so I’m limited to walking and minimal yoga. I fantasize about running a half-marathon.

9. Why do you use a pseudonym?

Privacy. I’m one of those authors who could easily not have anyone know who they are, but appreciate the words and buy the books. I’m a wicked introvert – I’ve created my persona to help me escape that shyness. Like an actor. Sometimes it even works.

10. Do you get nervous when you have to speak in public?

Yes. I had a total breakdown before I was even published at the thought of having to go out and talk about me and my work. It’s still the biggest challenge of my career. I get better at it, then reverse course and flail around. I often wonder how many writing careers were cut short because people see all the promotion that goes on and freaked. I’m about to launch my fifth novel, and it just doesn’t get any easier. Tomorrow is a no food kind of day.

J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, which have been published in 21 countries. Visit for more insight into her wicked imagination, or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick


  1. I'm with you on #7. It drive my wife crazy.

  2. Used to only be able to afford used bookstore paperbacks. Still have a soft spot for beatup, dogeared, spinebroke, smeared print used books. They fit me soft and comfortable like tennys with a million holes and spit tied laces. But I know what you mean about the new ones. Hate to see 'em get rode hard. So much to like in your words, JT. Enjoyed 'em all.

  3. I can't drink when I write or read. I can't even write with a mild hangover. Polish brewery's profits have DROPPED in the last couple of years!

    I'm the opposite of #7, I like a book to look lived in. I loved my copy of Gide's Fruits Of The Earth all the more because of it's wine stains!

    Smashing writing. I will now think of JT as Nell...

  4. Thanks so much for having me! Such an honor to join the Dancing with Myself crowd.

    Chad, I feel for her : )

    AJ - Thanks so much! You're too kind.

    Paul - I have four copies of THE CHARM SCHOOL because I keep reading them until they literally fall apart. Lots of tape in our bookshelves.