Inspiration And How It Strikes

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author, J.T. Ellison | @thrillerchick

We’re delighted to have J.T. Ellison on the blog today discussing the inspiration behind her new novel, and one of our spring book club selections, NO ONE KNOWS. If you’ve not yet picked up a copy of this one you’re really missing out. It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant. And she has great taste in glasses.


JT_EllisonInspiration. It’s the most common question I get from readers, and from non-readers, too. Where do you get your ideas? How do you keep them straight?

The honest answer is I get ideas everywhere. From the most mundane, simple moments to earth-shattering news events. Quiet despair and public catastrophe. The ideas aren’t the problem. It’s finding the time to write them all. When I do have an idea, I capture it immediately, either in an online file or my idea notebook. Good ones stay with you. They’re visited often in your mind. Some are fed, watered, and put outside for the night; some are caressed longingly. Some, despite the excitement that created them, lay dormant, never to be developed. But some ideas eat at you. They won’t let you rest. They force you to build them into something. These are the ideas that become novels.

Five years ago, I dreamed that my husband went missing from an event. We were at separate parties at the Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee – bachelor and bachelorette. Oddly, he sent me a drink I hate: a vodka tonic, the first clue to my subconscious mind something wasn’t right. When I went to look for him, he was gone. Disappeared. And I knew in my heart I’d never see him again.

It was one of those incredibly vivid dreams that stays with you even when you wake. For the first few moments after I opened my eyes, a desperate sense of loss clung to me. My heart felt broken, my chest bruised by an incredible pain. How was this possible? How would I survive losing him? How would I go on?

When reality (and relief) finally crept back in, I knew I had to write the feelings down. While I was journaling this horrible dream, it hit me. What I like to call a “lightning strike idea.” Some authors would argue that all book ideas are lightning strikes, but not me. Lightning strikes only a few times, I believe, and it’s what you do with it that matters. I quickly pulled a story together, almost out of thin air. Young, innocent Aubrey Hamilton. Her handsome husband Josh, missing. Voila. The beginning of NO ONE KNOWS was born. My very first standalone novel, built on the back of a terrible dream.

It doesn’t sound like enough to go on, does it? And yet, five years later, the story is complete, has just hit bookshelves and is (hopefully) soon to be in your hands. Inspiration is like that. It can be quiet or loud, simple or complex. There’s magic in it, without a doubt. That’s our gift, I think. The ability to take the banal and create something new.

NO ONE KNOWS had a long, tumultuous journey, full of rewrites and changes in direction, new titles and new characters. It is hands down the most challenging book I have ever written, and I am so incredibly excited that it is finally, finally ready for you to read. I hope you enjoy it!


No One Knows (1)In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows.

5 Responses to Inspiration And How It Strikes

  1. Ann Bresnan April 6, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    I have read No One Knows and highly recommend it. Quickly becomes a page turner with surprises!

  2. Richard Kennedy April 6, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    I was captivated by your essay on ‘No One Knows’ and the inspiration that led to the completed novel. I agree lightning strike ideas are quite rare. You have to seize them and follow them wherever they might lead. The fact that your novel was so challenging to bring to the page is not so surprising. The impetus for your creation struck terribly close to home. I’ve ordered ‘No One Knows and look forward to reading your spellbinding story.

  3. Heather April 6, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    I’m adding this to my TBR list right now! Sounds like a real page-turner.

  4. JT Ellison April 6, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    It’s so great to be here today! My glasses and I are honored to be a part of this awesome club!

    Ann, thank you SO much!!!

    Richard, I hope you enjoy it – let me know what you think.

    Heather – thanks so much! It’s a fun ride and a crazy book. Enjoy!

  5. Linda Thorne April 7, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    I wrote a post for Writers Who Kill recently (March 12, 2016) that was similar. It was on how to come up with ideas. Wherever your inspiration came from to write, No One Knows, the book sounds great. Ideas are everywhere, but it takes authors like you to take those ideas and your own inspirations and put them on paper the “right way.” It’s not easy, but you’ve been doing it right for some time now. I trust this newest book will show how good you still are.

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