Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ellison, Jenkins, and Littlefield

Crime Fiction?

Totally not my genre, but writers are -- and three crime fiction writers came to the Book Exchange on Tuesday night and kick started this season's author's receptions.

A very pleasant evening to be out and about with the temperatures around 60 and a feel of spring in the air, I arrived at The Book Exchange in time to eat the goodies always offered in the back of the business -- this time -- fruit, brownies, pound cake, ham sandwiches spread with cream cheese mixed with pineapple and pecans--- and then I took a seat saved by my friend Marilyn about four rows back, whipped out my Georgia Credit Union ballpoint and Mead college ruled spiral notebook for note taking, and took a listen.

The first author, JT Ellison, a tall blond with cute, trendy glasses, introduced herself by telling of how she arrived at writing crime fiction about serial killers in Nashville. After the brief biography, she told how, in an attempt to research her novels, she coerced her way into "ride alongs with police" and recently attended her first autopsy. Fairly successful as a crime writer, Ellison was openly transparent about the difficulties of writing and dealing with editors and noted that only once has one of the titles for her book actually been the title. She also said that she made a huge mistake once by leaving "a cliffhanger so big you can't wrap it up in the next novel." Her sixth novel in the Taylor Jackson series, So Close the Hand of Death, is the one touted on this book tour.

The second writer, the soft spoken Grant Jerkins, a rookie with only one published book, actually lives in Cobb County. Funny and self-deprecating, he cracked me up several times with his stories. He told how this is is first author tour and that he had one before in Athens, Georgia, where only one "crooked lipstick wearing matron" attended. She apparently kept calling him "Carl," but he didn't care since "she bought a book." At one point he attempted to summarize his work for the audience, but couldn't think about how to do it without going on too long, so his colleague Sophia Littlefield began reading the blurb reviews from the back of his book to prompt him. He grinned like a kid and commented "Sounds good" and "I'd totally read that." Unfortunately based on his calling his own work "dark, " I know that I won't read it even though I enjoyed his sense of humor immensely. He sold the movie rights to his first work, A Very Simple Crime, and his second novel At The End of the Road has its setting locally.

The third author, Sophia Littlefield, according to her peers, has nominations for every single award that "our" community offers, but I don't know that I heard that she won any. The most accomplished of the three, Littlefield exuded confidence in what she does. Her latest crime fiction drama, A Bad Day for Scandal, is apparently already "old news" since her current venture is a young adult novel titled Urban Fantasy. Its dystopian theme a shoe in for what's popular with that age, the novel is "The Stand" [Stephen King's 1978 novel] as one reviewer put it "in bras and panties." From what I could tell from Littlefield's commenting on her own work, it had zombies in it "well done."

*scratches head*

During the question and answer at the end of their talk, one serious reader of JT Ellison stood up and told her that "we needed to talk." Ellison, taken aback a little by her aggressiveness, said "you can ask me now" and even Jerkins noted, "I think you need to get it off your chest," and the audience member said, "in your work [I can't remember the name] you had John [one of the characters] keep a secret from Taylor." Ellison attempted to tell why, but the reader kept huffing and puffing about how "John wouldn't do that! John wouldn't do that!"

I love the passion that readers have for the characters they read about, and I imagine in a series especially, the readers feel they have a certain ownership of knowledge about the characters portrayed, but this woman was about to come out of her jeans over "John wouldn't do that!"

A humorous moment came later when someone asked Grant Jerkins about whom he would like to star in the movie for his book. A woman from the audience quipped, "I hear Charlie Sheen's available. " We all cracked up, but Jerkins got her one better by adding, "I heard that the top ten quotes today were half from Gaddafi and the other half from Charlie Sheen."


As always, I love listening to writers talk about their work whether I read them or not.

Coming up in April -- Terry Kay.

Him? I know.



  1. I copy edited The Book of Marie by Terry Kay. Name dropping is fun.

  2. I love listening to writers talk about their craft, no matter what the genre. Brownies always help, too.

    Never heard of Terry Kay. Should I twirl? :)