J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 critically acclaimed novels, and is published in 28 countries and 16 languages. She is also the Emmy award-winning co-host of the television series A Word on Words, a literary interview television show, and co-wrote the “A Brit in the FBI” series with #1 New York Times bestseller Catherine Coulter. She lives in Nashville with her husband and two small gray minions, known as cats in some cultures.

Good Girls Lie

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school, the boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential.

No one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But then a popular student is found dead, rumors suggesting she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide, and the truth cannot be ignored.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Barnes & Noble | Indiebound 

My review

Tightly plotted and brilliantly executed, this story of secrets, hazing, suicides and murder is told in the most evocative way. I could practically hear the bells chiming in the bell tower, feel the chill of the old stone walls, sense the menace from the secret societies. Like Mean Girls or Gossip Girl set in a gothic boarding school, Good Girls Lie is filled with bullies and spoiled rich kids all living within the walls of an elite, all-girls school.

Author’s Corner – interview with J.T. Ellison

Can you tell me something about you that your readers might not know?

I’m a frustrated wanna-be architect. My favorite magazine is Architectural Digest. I love seeing how things are designed and decorated. I can build most anything, I grew up helping my dad build all our houses. But I can’t decorate to save my life. I’m missing that gene. I suppose that’s why I’m a writer and not a painter. I was always meant for a creative life, just not one that involves color and placement.

How has being a bestselling author changed things for you? Do you still write the same, or is there more/less pressure now?

This is a good problem to have, but I do feel like there is more pressure now than when I started. I don’t know how much of it is external and how much is internal, but if pushed, I’d say that’s a 10 percent to 90 percent split in favour of internal. My publishers aren’t calling me up saying “you have to top this last book, JT. Level up. Find a new way of telling the story.” That’s all in my mind.

And as such, I don’t write the same as I used to. I obsess over elements that before were just a part of telling the story. My workload has actually decreased—I was writing two to three books a year before, now it’s only one—but it all feels much more intense. I know, woe is me, right?

What are some of the jobs you had before becoming an author? How have they helped you in your writing career now?

I cast about for a good while on what I wanted to be when I grew up—the usual doctor, lawyer, firefighter—but when I landed, it was International Business. I got interested in maritime law, and the foreign service, and thought that would be my path. I ended up majoring in Politics and Creative Writing, getting a Master’s in Political Management, and worked in politics for a while before transitioning to aerospace marketing.

I have a mind for the business side of writing, which is actually a curse. I have a hard time turning off the little voice that looks at how the work impacts the market instead of just being in the story. I mean, it’s great that I can handle business aspects of the job and have a sense of how a marketing and PR can affect sales, but I wouldn’t mind only being creative. There’s a certain freedom to that.

If you could recommend any other book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently, what would it be?

Never Let Me Go, The Silent Patient, The Stranger Inside, Daisy Jones and the Six, Ninth House, Gideon the Ninth, and Educated are all on my best of 2019 list.

What was your favorite childhood book?

It’s a toss up between Forever by Judy Blume and the Norton Anthology of Poetry. And maybe the dictionary. Definitely Encyclopaedia Britannica. I was a curious lass.

What book had the greatest impact on you?

That’s a hard question, because there are many, so I’m going to go with Mind Prey by John Sandford. When I read it, I was inspired to return to writing (after all that Education in Other Things) and it set me on my current path.

If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Plato – I want to discuss my theories of the cave, that it doesn’t matter if you escape it, because you’ve simply entered a new, bigger one; ergo: enlightenment can’t ever really exist.

Hemingway – He just seems like a good time, you know?

Virginia Woolf – I’d like to try and talk her out of the rock in the pocket trick.

Karin Slaughter – She’s someone I know but would like to know better, because her fearless approach to her work gives me permission to take chances in my own.

Deborah Harkness – she’s one of five people in the world who teaches alchemy, and she knows great wine. A stellar combination.

Writing Good Girls Lie

Let’s talk about your new book. Can you tell my readers a little about it?

Recently orphaned, Ash Carlisle, from Oxford, England, crosses the Atlantic to attend the elite all-girls boarding school, The Goode School, home to secrets, lies, and a very haunted history. While she fits in at first, as students and teachers begin to die, she goes from revered to reviled.

Where did you come up with the idea for Good Girls Lie?

I had an intense vision for the first chapter—a girl in a school uniform hanging from the front gates of a private school. I wrote the open as a screenplay first, just to be sure I had the atmosphere exactly how I wanted it, then found Ash’s first and last name while reading a magazine on a plane. I quickly realized the visuals of the school were based on my alma mater, and off I went. I’ve always wanted to write a boarding school mystery, and I really like the revered to reviled concept, especially in light of our current problems with cyber bullying.

Describe Good Girls Lie in three words.

Diabolical. Haunting. Obsessive.

What actresses would you cast to play Ash and Dean Westhaven?

A friend of mine, Gare Billings, has cast Florence Pugh as Ash, which I love. And he sees Anne Hathaway as Dean Westhaven, which I also love. In my mind, I was envisioning Blake Lively or Jodi Comer; all three actresses would bring a different dimension to the role.

Was the ending planned from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote it? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

This book nearly got me because I had the ending—the last line—early on. My stories normally evolve; I rarely know the ending until I’m three-quarters of the way in. It was difficult writing to something and not giving things away. I much prefer not knowing until it’s staring me in the face. I trust my subconscious.

What do you think readers will love about Good Girls Lie?

The school setting, the dynamics of the secret societies and the girls, the gothic creepiness. The dean, who dreams of being a writer. And Ash herself, she’s pretty cool.

I loved the haunted, gothic feel of the boarding school, and how evocative your writing was. It made the atmosphere really come alive! Is The Goode School based on a real school or wholly taken from your imagination?

It’s absolutely based on my college, with some additions from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I met up with my high school bestie in Chapel Hill and she gave me a tour of the campus and the arboretum, which made it into the book immediately. I didn’t have that element until I went to North Carolina, and it’s very important to the story.

What made you decide to focus on a gothic school, secret societies, and the bullying and hazing some teenagers have to go through to fit in?

Honestly, I’d always wanted to tell this story, and when I realized I had a short amount of time to write this book, I decided to forge ahead. These elements were known to me, enough that they took the least amount of research! I loved revisiting my school years, and certainly tossed in a few real-life experiences. I was in a few secret societies…though none were quite as intense as Ivy Bound.

You have such a gift for creating compelling characters and weaving multiple narrators through your stories, and this is so apparent in Good Girls Lie.  How do you build characters that are so easily identifiable?

That’s so kind of you to say, thank you! I love building characters and I do it layer by layer. I always ask them a single question to start – what’s your biggest shame? Once I know what they’re trying to hide, the rest falls into place. I think we all wear armour. Just like you’d get to know a new friend, you have to take it slow, not trust right away, let them reveal themselves over time. I write about people I’d like to hang out with or would find terrible to be around. It’s a simple formula for character building.

What’s next for J.T.?

Are you working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc? Where did you get the idea?

I’m working on a story about a destination wedding that goes very, very wrong. It has very loose Rebecca overtones, and that’s as much as I can say right now. It’s called Her Dark Lies. It’s my late 2020 or early 2021 book.

Get In Touch

J.T. loves connecting with readers. You can get in touch with her at:

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41 Reviews for J.T. Ellison

    Great Review
    The blurb sounds so good.
    Definitely adding to my tbr
    Wonderful interview I enjoy learning about New Authors

      I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the interview! Thank you so much! 🙂

      Thank you so much, I’m so happy you enjoyed it! 🙂

    I would love to read GOOD GIRLS LIE. Her desciption of the book has made me very curious!❤

      I absolutely loved it and think you will too! 🙂

    Love new books and love sharing them with family too

    Sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to read it.

    Clicked and entered. Thank you!

    I look forward to reading your books!

    Good Girls Lie, or do we? This book sounds like a great read!

    Iam almost done with book and love it so good I cant wait for next one.

      I know, I’m counting down until she writes her next book, too! 🙂

    I can’t wait to read this book! Always love trying new authors books! Thank you!

    Rich B*’s, Private schools, who is better that who, who has more $ than who – can’t wait to find out

    Great interview, loved the two books I’ve read by them.

    Thank you for the interview and review. It’s wonderful to get information from fellow authors and others.

    Sounds like an awesome read.

    Loved this review! SOunds like a great read

    Would love to read Good girls lie ! Great interview!

    Great interview! I’ve always loved J.T. Ellison’s books and this sounds like another winner! Can’t wait to read it!

    Sounds like a great book…..and author!!!! Can’t wait to read!!!

    Added to my ever growing TBR List. She is a new author for me.

    Sure adding to my list, thanks for the post!

    My TBR list is ever growing as an avid book lover ! I feel that’s just fine !!! Hardest part is deciding which one is next !!! I enjoy a wide garden variety ! My maiden name is Moore as well !

    I am super excited to read Good Girls Lie!!

    Sounds intriguing! I am adding this to my to-be-read list. Thank you for posting!

    Good girls lie sounds very interesting and good I will be adding it to my list of books to read on Goodreads.

    I absolutely loved the interview. It was informative and held my interest. I’d love to read the book. Thank you for the chance.

    I can’t wait to read this one! Thank you.

    Would love to win read and review it sounds awesome

    Oh I would love a copy! I’m intrigued 😍

    The interview allowed us to better know JT personally and professionally. Excellent interview. I’ve not read any of her books, though I like the books that she’s read. Thank you.

    I love reading books and I would love to win a free copy of the book

    I think that the books are really good and I would love to win

    I love, love, loved this one! But I enjoy Ellison’s work!❤️ Here’s my review:

    It has been said that, “the truth shall set you free;” however, for Ash, telling the truth can be down right deadly. Just how far will she go to keep her secrets and her past buried?

    “There are truths, and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened, which is where you and I will meet.”

    Let’s face it, everyone lies. Even good girls, but especially Goode girls. Goode’s honor code be damned when it comes to Ash and her future. Such a wicked web of lies that is spun by Ellison throughout this read.

    Good Girls Lie, is made with all the ingredients necessary for a tempting, tangy yet tasty, tantalizing thriller. It’s made with love using a dash of mayhem, a cup of Ellison’s version of “Mean Girls”, and of course it wouldn’t be complete without several slices and dices of murder only to be topped off with a British bad girl as the cherry on top. 5 stars❤️

    Sounds good!! Definitely going to read!!

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