By Dawn Ius
LJ Sellers is no stranger to thrill. She’s an adrenaline junkie who has jumped from a plane multiple times and even—gasp!—performed a stand-up comedy routine in front of an unsuspecting audience.
While many of her thrill-seeking adventures make it onto the page, Sellers hasn’t yet found a place for comedy in her novels.
“I admire authors who do,” she says. “There are moments where my characters may do something funny, and I can play up on that, but personally, I haven’t found a way to merge the comedy and thriller genres.”
Instead, LJ focuses on plot, which she admits is her favorite part of the creative process. As a self-defined linear author, Sellers carves out a rough outline and then begins with the first chapter, continuously plotting and writing until the first draft is complete.
“I love writing complex plots,” she says.
Actually, she loves writing—period.
Her latest Detective Jackson novel, DEADLY BONDS, releases this month, but she’s already written two books since completing final edits, and has started a new story. Prolific, certainly, but perhaps partially out of necessity.
“It’s a competitive market out there,” she says. “One of the only ways to stay visual is to write a lot of books.”
DEADLY BONDS is the ninth novel in the Detective Jackson series, a thrilling story that will show readers a softer side of her beloved rough and gruff character. Inspired by a new development in her life, Sellers introduces a young boy into Jackson’s, drawing from him many of the emotions she has experienced since welcoming a new granddaughter into her world.
“Whatever happens in my life often happens in Jackson’s,” she says. “Sometimes readers write to me and ask me to leave him alone—that he’s already been through so much. But I really felt that this story fit him, and I think readers will enjoy it.”
Reader satisfaction is paramount for Sellers, who dedicates considerable time to engaging with her fans. She often puts out a call for character names on her blog, and responds to reader feedback quickly and with sincerity.
“I love knowing that people have experienced pleasure in something I have created,” she says. “That somehow, I’ve made an impression on someone’s life. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue doing what I love to do.”
Even if that means working late into the night. Sellers generally crafts a first-draft book in six to eight weeks, working toward a daily goal of 2,500 words. Evenings are reserved for the “business” side of the profession—updating author bios, writing blog posts, and responding to readers.
“I like to be busy,” she says. “I’m kind of a go, go, go person.”
So much so that in addition to her Detective Jackson books, Sellers writes another series about Agent Dallas, a female FBI agent who infiltrates dangerous organizations. Each book starts with an adrenaline-raising adventure.
“Agent Dallas came from one of the Detective Jackson books,” she says. “I had so much fun writing her character, I envisioned a whole series around her.”
While balancing the two series is sometimes challenging, Sellers is committed to the task, writing so quickly, in fact, that her publisher can’t keep up.
“I write faster than Thomas and Mercer can publish,” she says. “So I self-publish some of the stories to keep readers engaged.”
The ability to write complex stories quickly is rare, but Sellers is disciplined and determined. Although she has a great home office, she can—and often does—write in various places. She doesn’t need to be inspired, doesn’t believe in writer’s block, and while she enjoys Diet Dr. Pepper, it isn’t vital to her creative process.
“I have perseverance,” she says, noting that it is this quality that landed her an encouraging phone call from an industry professional who later became her agent.
“I was shocked because he actually phoned me and told me not to give up, that he liked my writing, but he couldn’t sell the story,” she says. “Eventually, he worked with me to develop a story he could sell. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I was lucky enough to have someone encourage me early on.”
Her tenacity obviously paid off.
“You have to outlast the others,” she says. “That’s what I tell aspiring authors.”
And of course—you have to write.
L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series–a two-time Readers Favorite Award winner–as well as the Agent Dallas series and provocative standalone thrillers. Her novels have been highly praised by reviewers, and she’s one of the highest-rated crime fiction authors on Amazon.
L.J. resides in Eugene, Oregon where many of her novels are set and is an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. She’s also the founder of Housing Help, a charity dedicated to keeping families from becoming homeless. When not plotting murders or working with her foundation, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.
To learn more about L.J., please visit her website.