After nearly two decades of success, J.T. Ellison, the New York Times bestselling author of more than 15 books and coauthor of the popular A Brit in the FBI series with Catherine Coulter, decided she needed a change of scenery. Ellison steps away for now from her series characters Lt. Taylor Jackson of Nashville Homicide and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens to take a look at the interior lives of ordinary people in Lie to Me (Mira, Sept.). Call it a domestic noir, if you will, as she chronicles the disintegration of an outwardly perfect marriage.

What made you leave your beloved cops behind?

I felt like there would be a bigger canvas to work with. I love writing about the police, but the idea of taking an ordinary person and putting them into extraordinary situations and seeing how they react intrigued me. There are some expectations when it’s a cop, but what if it’s your next-door neighbors? With Lie to Me, I hope readers will be drawn into that first chapter and not be able to put it down. The first line is “You are not going to like me very much.” It is a big departure for me.

Will this become a series?

No, it’s a standalone, and it’s a very big book and big shift for me. I am so appreciative of all the publishing people and booksellers who are going along with it and helping. Big thank you!

Will you be revisiting your Samantha Owens and Taylor Jackson series any time soon?

Absolutely. I am definitely not done with them, but just for now, I am stepping away. Things change; it will be a challenge to go back to them, but a fun one.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve always been a writer. I got my first rejection letter when I was 10 years-old. I wrote a poem on slavery for a school assignment, and my grandmother sent it to True Confessions magazine. This prepared me for rejection later.

What is it about mysteries and thrillers that led you to those genres?

I’ve always drifted toward them. I really like how people react to things. I like to put people in awkward situations and see what they do. Why do people choose to do bad things? What drives people to make decisions like rob a bank or kill someone? The psychology fascinates me. Where is a person’s moral compass?

Today, 10:45–11:45 a.m. J.T. Ellison signs ARCs of Lie to Me at the Harlequin booth (2921).