Friday, September 8, 2017

Robert Ellis: CITY OF ECHOES, Writing Your First Novel



READER: OMG! I just read CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS back to back for the third time. I took notes and have started writing my first novel, but can't seem to get anything done. Running errands that don't need to be run, cleaning closets that don't need to be cleaned ... You're working on your eighth novel, the next Detective Matt Jones thriller, so I'm sure you know where I'm going with all this. I've spent two weeks doing everything except writing. Is this writer's block? And if so, how do I get rid of it so I can start and finish my first novel?

ROBERT:  T. Jefferson Parker once told me that the way to keep cool while writing is to realize that it's only possible to write one page at a time. So my advice is to take a deep breath and think about what Parker is saying. One page at a time. Once you come to(!), you need to trust the research you've done, and your story's outline. But even more, keep in mind that a chapter is only one small block, usually just a single idea, in the building of your finished work.

CITY OF ECHOES is an epic thriller. The last third of the novel is laced with twists and turns. My readers expect this when they sit down with any of my novels, so I'm always looking for ways to make sure the reading experience is as intense as possible. This means that for any single novel, I'm actually writing three. In CITY OF ECHOES there is the world as it appears to Matt, the world that it could possibly be, and then with the resolution, the world as it really is. Lifting the veil between the way the opponent wants Matt to see the crime, and Matt's discovery of what actually happened -- making all that work is always the big challenge, but also, the most rewarding part of writing.

If you trust your research and your outline, I think you'll find that your writer's block is nothing more than a distant memory.





***
ROBERT ELLIS WRITERS BLOG

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Robert Ellis: CITY OF ECHOES Kindle Book Deal Last Day!



From Bookbub:
"Perfect for fans of Michael Connelly: A grisly kill on Hollywood Boulevard leads homicide detective Matt Jones down an intense path of corruption and violence in this thrilling "powerhouse of a novel" (Booklist starred review). With over 1,200 five-star ratings on Goodreads!"

Amazon's Kindle Book Deal ends today at Midnight! Hope everyone took advantage of this wonderful price cut!
Hope you guys enjoy the read!

 










ROBERT ELLIS WRITERS BLOG

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Robert Ellis: THE LOST WITNESS, Publishers Weekly Starred Review



LENA GAMBLE RULES ...
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
December 2008

 
STARRED REVIEW. In Ellis’s scorching sequel to City of Fire (2007), LAPD robbery and homicide detective Lena Gamble is surprised when she’s handed a particularly horrific murder case. Her trusted supervisor, Lt. Frank Barrera, even warns her that it may be a trap. A dismembered female body found in a dumpster in Hollywood offers little in the way of clues until an anonymous witness delivers the Jane Doe’s driver’s license and a flash drive showing the victim’s kidnapping. Gamble follows every lead even when her own bosses spy on her and warn her off investigating the son of a powerful pharmaceutical company owner and a physician who knew the dead woman. Finding the missing witness before the killer finds her may be Gamble’s only hope of solving this deliciously twisted crime novel in which nothing is what it appears to be.

Ellis succeeds masterfully in both playing fair and pulling surprise after surprise in a story that feels like a runaway car plunging down a mountain road full of switchbacks.


THE LOST WITNESS on Amazon



R O B E R T   E L L I S   W R I T E R S   B L O G
www.robertellis.net


Monday, August 14, 2017

Robert Ellis: THE DEAD ROOM, Did you expect it to be so successful?



Reader: THE DEAD ROOM is your most popular novel. More writers have ripped off this title than any book I've ever heard of, including the romance writer, Heather Graham, who should have known better. A movie came out last year, a really bad movie, ripping off the title. In my bookstore, THE DEAD ROOM by Robert Ellis, is still the best selling thriller they've ever had on their shelves. Did you expect this kind of success when you wrote this novel?


Robert: If you had asked this question last week or even last month or last year, I would have said that THE DEAD ROOM was definitely my most popular novel. But now, with CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS, that's just not true anymore! CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS are actually a single story that took two books to tell. Once everybody figured it out, these two novels caught fire and changed everything for me.

Don't get me wrong, the Lena Gamble novels are my most critically acclaimed work to date, and I'm so proud to have created these stories and this wonderful female detective. If I was writing detective fiction like Michael Connelly, I would have continued with Lena's character until the end. But I write thrillers, not detective stories. Thrillers work and move so much differently, and it's just not possible to continue with a single character for very long. Once a character gains experience, they lose vulnerability, which is the key to anyone who writes and reads and loves a great thriller. While I may find a way to work Lena back into a story with Detective Matt Jones or even the defense attorney, Teddy Mack, someday in the future, it's still not on the map.

But getting back to THE DEAD ROOM, I believe that in crime fiction there are only a few writers pushing the genre forward. I dedicated THE DEAD ROOM to my father because he introduced me to one of them, Thomas Harris, and his masterpiece, RED DRAGON. THE DEAD ROOM will always  be special for me because it was more or less an attempt to push the ball one step further up the mountain. From the overwhelming response, we succeeded. But even more, the story is set outside Philadelphia in the towns and neighborhoods where I grew up, so it feels very personal. And then, of course, LAPD Detective Matt Jones brings it all back in THE LOVE KILLINGS by returning to Philadelphia for another series of  particularly gruesome murders in places I walked as a child and young man.

THE DEAD ROOM will always be special, but right now, everything on the stove has come to a boil because of CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS. While some critics believe that the Lena Gamble novels, CITY OF FIRE, THE LOST WITNESS, and MURDER SEASON are my best work, LAPD Detective Matt Jones in CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS are my two favorites right now. And yes, I'm working on Matt Jones's third case as we speak and it's going well!




R O B E R T   E L L I S   W R I T E R S   B L O G

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Robert Ellis: HOUSE OF CARDS & THE LOST WITNESS



Reader: Two quick questions. First, why do your characters sometimes smoke cigarettes? And second, in your novel THE LOST WITNESS LAPD Detective Lena Gamble shares cigarettes with her partner, Stan Rhodes. Your novel was the bestselling work of crime fiction in Southern California that year, as all the Lena Gamble novels have been, so there's no doubt about it that these scenes were lifted by the people who are writing HOUSE OF CARDS. Does that bug you?

Robert: To your first question, I call it emotional punctuation, and I've used it in all of my novels and screenplays. Not just cigarettes, but nicotine gum, alcohol, and especially, a piping hot cup of coffee. I use them as a way to underline the trouble my characters are in. The need for a crutch of some kind. A moment to say, hey, wait a minute, I'm in too deep. How am I going to get out of this jam!

As I think about it, none of my characters are smokers, per se. Everyone of them quit at some point in their life. But that makes the emotional punctuation even stronger. When Matt Jones hits the wall (as is his way!), sometimes the trouble he's in is so big, he needs that crutch. I should add that Matt's never lit up without thinking about the five reasons he shouldn't (and the five reasons he quit)!
House of Cards "Smoking Scene"

As far as HOUSE OF CARDS goes, you're probably right about the timing. THE LOST WITNESS came out before the TV show and Lena and Rhodes shared cigarettes. The novel was a bestseller, particularly in Los Angeles. At the time, mystery bookstores owned the city and THE LOST WITNESS was No. 1. If someone from the show read the book and liked it enough to be influenced by it, I take that as a compliment. THE LOST WITNESS is still one of my favorite books, so I'm not bummed, it's all good!


THE LOST WITNESS on Amazon 

















R O B E R T   E L L I S   W R I T E R S   B L O G
www.robertellis.net