Catherine Coulter and JT Ellison: Co-writing (potential) jewel thieves!

We’ve long been fans of Catherine Coulter’s FBI series, so when we heard she was writing a spin-off series with J.T. Ellison, we had to know more! We caught up with the ladies to hear all about the Top Pick! rated The Final Cut, writing together and stealing those jewels.


How did the decision to co-write a series come about?

Catherine: A year and a half ago, I realized I wanted to write another series, no, not stop the FBI series with Savich and Sherlock, but I had this other character in my head and he was yelling at me, Hey, my turn! His name is Nicholas Drummond, and he's an inspector with Scotland Yard. More than that I even had the series name — A Brit in the FBI.

Not only was Nicholas alive and well in my head, so was his American mother and his Brit dad, and even his butler, Coombe. It was getting really crowded in there. But I knew I couldn't write two big books a year, so what was I to do?

I  called Clive Cussler because he collaborates with three or four other authors besides his son and he was kind enough to let me pick his brain, e.g. how he got started, his process, sometimes good, sometimes with lots of pot-holes. The most important thing he told me? Don't be surprised by anything. I didn't know what he meant then, I do now. I thank him very much for all the excellent assistance. 

The smartest thing I did? I took my time since I knew this new writer would become an integral part of my life. Between us, my husband and I read maybe 20 books each by different suspense thriller authors. I honestly didn't care if it was a man a woman or an orangutan. Now here comes the serendipity: independently, both my husband I picked J.T. Ellison, an author I'd never heard of nor read before. I'll never forget standing in the middle of my office and shouting, "I've found her!"

What was the writing process like?

JT: Thrilling, humbling, exciting, challenging and downright fun. Catherine has a wonderful, fertile brain, and she’s so smart, she knows exactly what the reader wants. The Final Cut was my 12th novel, but it felt like my first many times, as we sailed into uncharted territory of joint creation. She had the characters and the basic series idea, we fleshed them out together and wrote a proposal/outline, then I got to work. I'd write, Catherine would edit, and we sallied forth.

You have to have a lot of faith and trust in your co-writer to do this, and from the moment I met Catherine, I knew I could trust her. She’s a writer’s writer, which I greatly respect. We have a similar work ethic — there’s no nonsense, no prevaricating, we just get down to it every day and make the words flow, and I think that was a big part of our success.

The Final Cut involves stolen jewels. What interesting factoids about famous jewelry did you learn while writing?

JT: Well, I'm a lay-expert on the Koh-i-Noor's journey through the ages now, and the curse surrounding the diamond. But it wasn't learning about famous jewels so much as it was learning ways to steal them. I'd originally planned to steal the diamond from the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels reside under the watchful eyes of the elite military Yeoman Warders, AKA Beefeaters. I'm rather confident I have a way to get myself into and out of the Tower of London with a stone in hand. Whether I could get out of London is a whole different story.

You’ve been a force in publishing for so long! What do you think the next trend will be?

Catherine: Well, now, the Great Karnak straightens her turban, presses hers fingers against her forehead and says, "Remember the talking portraits in Harry Potter? Well, in the future, you'll actually see the book happening in front of your eyes. If, for example, you don’t like who's playing  the actors/actresses you selected, you can simply change them. I picture a young Sean Connery playing Nicholas Drummond chasing down The Fox, master thief, played by Sandra Bullock. So sayeth the Great Karnak.”

The next trend? Who knows? Sorry, but Karnak's getting a busy signal.

If you’re as curious as we are, The Final Cut is out today! And for more mystery news you can use, be sure to visit our Mystery, Suspense & Thriller page.