Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Lie To Me - Review, Excerpt and Q & A

Idgie Says:
Alright gang, this book is a wild ride from start to finish!  So many secrets  are slowly revealed in twisty turns throughout the story.   It almost seems like each page reveals yet another layer.

Who's the good guy and who's the bad guy?  Wait, is there even a good guy here at all?   Someone appears to be quite the psychopath - but who?  

Is anyone at all telling the truth?

By the last chapter you think you have it all figured out. 

Then you realize you don't.

A great book to immerse yourself into and just enjoy the journey it takes you on.............while you look over your shoulder.

September 5, 2017


Domestic noir at its best. Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel. 

They built a life on lies 

Sutton and Ethan Montclair's idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.


Excerpt: Prologue

In Which Introductions Are Made

You aren’t going to like me very much. Oh, maybe in your weaker moments, you’ll feel sorry for me, and use those feel­ings of warmth and compassion and insightful understanding to excuse my actions. You’ll say to yourself, “Poor little girl. She couldn’t help herself.” Or, “Can you blame her? After all she’s been through?” Perhaps you’ll even think, “She was born to this. It is not her fault.”

Of course it’s my fault. I chose this path. Yes, I feel as if I have no choice, that I’m driven to do it, that there are voices in my head that push me to the dark side.

But I also know right from wrong. I know good from evil. I may be compelled to ruin the lives in front of me, but I could walk away if I wanted.

Couldn’t I?

Never mind that. Back to you.

Truly, deep down, you are going to despise me. I am the rot that lives in the floorboards of your house. I am the spi­der that scuttles away when you shine light in my corner, ever watching, ever waiting. I am the shard of glass that slits the skin of your bare foot. I am all the bad things that hap­pen to you.

I steal things.

I kill things.

I leave a trail of destruction in my wake that is a sight to behold, wave after wave of hate that will overwhelm you until you sink to the bottom of my miserable little ocean, and once you’ve drowned I will feed on your flesh and turn your bones to dust.

You’re mine now. You are powerless against me. So don’t bother fighting it.

I hope you enjoy the show. 


Q & A with J.T. Ellison

You have said that your new novel, Lie to Me, was the most challenging you’ve ever written. Why is that?

You know, every team wants to win the world series with every book, but that’s not possible. Every once in a while, though, a dream team comes along, and sweeps the series. Early on, I saw this book had the potential to go all the way for me. The opening chapter spilled out and it was so different than anything I’d ever written, so visceral and cruel, I knew I had to take a chance and pull that voice through the whole book. Plus, I was interrupted after writing only one-third of the story and had to come back to it six months later. It hadn’t lost its impact, though I saw ways it could be improved upon. I pushed and prodded and begged it, and it finally, finally cooperated. Don’t be afraid to take one more step—that was my mantra. I played with structure and language in all new ways, and felt like I grew as a writer as a result.

What is the basic set-up of the novel?

Sutton and Ethan Montclair are both famous novelists—one literary, one genre—and the happy parents of a newborn, when their world goes awry. Sutton’s career is derailed after an incident with a reviewer; Ethan suffers severe writer’s block and loses his contract; their child passes away from SIDS. The cracks in their marriage become fractures, and Sutton leaves. Ethan, though, is worried Sutton has harmed herself, and involves the police, who of course think he’s killed his wife. The tale spins away from there, driven by an anonymous, malevolent narrator who knows more than they should about the Montclairs. 

Where did you get the first germ of an idea that grew into the plot of this novel?

At a café in Paris. I had to embody the cliché, a writer in Paris, so on a trip for my birthday, I sat down with my notebook, started people watching, and mentioned to my husband how fabulous it would be to live there for a while. Almost immediately, an idea hit me, about a broken-down writer who’s moved to Paris to save herself by writing a novel and gets embroiled in a murder. Of course, that six-month break helped me flesh the idea into so much more. There are several passages in the book that were written in the cafés of Paris, or sitting by the Seine, or in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Lots of verisimilitude.

Have you ever set one of your novels in a foreign locale before?

I have, actually. Italy, France, Scotland, England… I love taking my characters overseas; it helps flesh out their stories and allows me to expand my horizons.

It is fun for readers that you decided to make the couple at the center—Ethan and Sutton—bestselling writers. Why did you choose to give them this profession?

Everyone tells me write what you know—but don’t write about writers. I disagree on both fronts, and because of the initial idea, I knew at least one character had to be a writer. I love writing couples––how they share their work, and their lives, on the page. My husband is a non-fiction writer and I do fiction, so I have a basis to work from. So I decided to give Ethan and Sutton very different career paths and play on the literary-genre divide a bit, just for fun. There is a massive conflict between them at all times because of their writing journeys and experiences. Plus, writers are fascinating creatures in and of themselves, which is a deep well to draw from. 

Did you draw on any of your own experiences—professional or private—as a writer when creating these two writer characters?

Actually, yes! Sutton and Ethan frequent many of the places that I go to write and eat. Most of the book takes place in Franklin, Tennessee, not far from where I live. It was a blast to walk their walks, eat their meals, work their work, and wonder if I might run into them. I spent a lot of time people watching in Franklin, too.

At times, Ethan and Sutton are not the nicest of main characters. Was it hard writing about people who are less than sympathetic?

A bit, because I’m a glass three-quarters-full type, but we’ve all bumped into people who are less than pleased with their lot in life. Take that, amplify it by ten, twist the knife a bit, and I think anyone could understandably break. Sutton and Ethan are at this breaking point in an otherwise (apparently) idyllic life. Of course, the title should be a giveaway that perhaps nothing is as it seems. But I have great sympathy for them both, as a writer, and as a person. I’ve been blocked. I’ve suffered great personal loss. It was all-too-easy for me to imagine how their lives could spin into chaos, into distrust and unhappiness and blame. We live in a world where lives are curated to look so glamorous, and we all know that no one’s lives are as perfect as they’re portrayed. I hope once people see what’s truly happening behind the Montclairs’ closed doors, Sutton and Ethan will be thought of with compassion.

Lisa Scottoline has compared Lie to Me to Gone Girl. Why do you think readers are embracing these “domestic noirs”?

I think a lot of it has to do with the open doors/closed doors phenomenon; that our lives are so public, so on display, yet when no one is looking, that shiny veneer drops away and there is real unhappiness, real sadness, real problems, and of course, real hope. In other words, life. And if we can’t trust what we’re seeing from our friends and family, how can we trust our neighbors?

Crime fiction in general is a wonderful mirror for the daily dissatisfactions that build a life. People reads these terrible stories and think: There but for the grace of God go I. Domestic noir allows that adage to come home, quite literally.

Lie to Me is a standalone. You also write series. Which do you prefer writing?

I want to write whichever I’m not writing at that moment. Seriously, I love both forms. They each have their challenges, but switching between them keeps me fresh. Plus, there are story concepts that don’t fit the series that I can develop in a standalone, and vice versa.

Is it a different process writing a standalone than writing a series novel?

Yes and no—the big difference is with a standalone, you have to create an entire world and know the solution to the puzzle, whereas the series you can have a few threads hanging out there, and you have the world built already and you’re simply re-inhabiting it. It’s like coming home from vacation versus moving houses entirely.

Although part of the novel is set in Paris, part is in Franklin, Tennessee, on your home turf near Nashville, where many of your books are set. How important is a sense of place in your work?

Vital. My settings are characters unto themselves. I want my readers to experience the story alongside the characters, and setting achieves that for me. Nashville and its surrounds are such a rich canvas—we’re a small town with big city issues, a dichotomous population, and centuries of great stories. I love setting my books here!

You also write another series with Catherine Coulter. How different is it to collaborate on a book, where you don’t have complete control?

Very. With Catherine, we’ve found two heads are better than one, and if I’m stuck, I can always call her and say, Hey, this isn’t working, what shall we do? For my own books, I’m dependent on myself for the solutions, the ideas, the story and settings. Catherine and I work all that out beforehand when we start a new book. I outline much more with her, as well. It’s a joy to have a partner—and also fun to go it alone.

What can readers expect from you next?

I’m working on a Catherine book right now, actually, THE BLOOD CABAL, due out in 2018. I have a draft done of my next standalone, and with luck, a Sam and Taylor novel is coming! I’ve already written a chunk of it, so fingers crossed…