Roger Jon Ellory was born in Birmingham, England, June 20th 1965 at Sorento Hospital. The hospital has now been demolished. There is no direct evidence that the two events were linked.
His father having already left before Roger was born, he was then orphaned at the age of seven. His mother, Carole - an actress and dancer - died as a result of a pneumonia epidemic that claimed more than a dozen victims in the early 1970s. In 1973 Roger was swiftly despatched to a boarding school and stayed there until he was sixteen. Upon leaving school he returned to Birmingham to live with his maternal grandmother. His grandfather had already drowned off the Gower Peninsula in the south of Wales in 1957. In April of 1982 Roger's grandmother died following a number of heart attacks.
At seventeen years of age he was arrested for poaching. He was charged, tried, and sentenced to a jail term which he served without causing too much trouble. Upon his release he vanished quietly into relative obscurity to pursue interests in graphic design, photography and music. As a guitar player in a band called 'The Manta Rays' he was partly responsible for their reputation as the loudest band south of Manchester and north of London. Following the untimely death of their drummer, Roger quit the music scene and devoted himself to studying obscure philosophies and reading. Through the complete works of Conan Doyle, Michael Moorcock, JRR Tolkien, numerous books by Stephen King and many others, his interest in fiction steadily grew, not only from the viewpoint of a reader, but a burgeoning interest as a writer.
Roger began his first novel on November 4th, 1987 and did not stop, except for three days when he was going through a divorce from his first wife, until July of 1993. During this time he completed twenty-two novels, most of them in longhand, and accumulated several hundred polite and complimentary rejection letters from many different and varied publishers. The standard response from the UK publishing trade was that they could not consider the possibility of publishing books based in the United States written by an Englishman. He was advised to send his work to American publishers, which he duly did, and received from them equally polite and complimentary rejection letters that said it was not possible for American publishers to publish books set in the US written by an Englishman. Roger stopped writing out of sheer frustration and did not start again until August 2001. One of his agents became an author, another retired from representation and moved abroad, the last one just stopped writing and calling.
In 2001 Roger took an office-based job for the first time in his life. He was shown how to use a computer, how to create a word document, and decided to use his lunch hours to start writing again. Between August 2001 and January 2002 he wrote three books, the second of which was called Candlemoth. This was purchased by Orion and published in 2003. How and why it was published is another story entirely, which if you ever go to one of Roger's events he will tell you! Candlemoth was translated into German, Dutch and Italian, and has now also been purchased for translation into Swedish, French and several other languages.
As of 2012, RJ Ellory had published ten novels, the most recent entitled A Dark and Broken Heart. Candlemoth, his first-published, was shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger, as was his fourth, City of Lies, in 2006. His fifth novel, A Quiet Belief In Angels was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection in 2007, and went on to win the Livre De Poche Award, The Strand Magazine Novel of The Year, The Mystery Booksellers of America Award, and the Inaugural Nouvel Observateur Prize. A Quiet Vendetta won the Quebec Laureat and the Villeneuve Readers' Prize. A Simple Act of Violence, Ellory's sixth novel, won the UK Crime Novel of the Year 2010. He has been nominated for a further seven international awards including three Barrys, the 813 Trophy, and the Europeen Du Point. He has also written the screenplay of A Quiet Belief In Angels for Oscar-winning director, Olivier Dahan. His books are now available in twenty-four languages. He is published in the USA by Overlook Press, and they have released 'A Quiet Belief In Angels' (2009), 'The Anniversary Man' (2010), 'A Simple Act of Violence' (June 2011), 'A Quiet Vendetta' (January of 2012), and will be releasing 'Candlemoth' in the spring of 2013. All of Ellory's works will be released by Overlook Press in the foreseeable future. He is also the singer and guitar player of the band, 'The Whiskey Poets'.
On numerous occasions people have tried to identify Roger's work with a particular genre - crime, thriller, historical fiction - but this categorisation has been a relatively fruitless endeavour. Roger's ethos is merely to work towards producing a good story, something that encapsulates elements of humanity and life without necessarily slotting into a predetermined pigeonhole. He attempts to produce an average of forty thousand words a month, and aims to get a first draft completed within three to four months. His wife thinks he is a workaholic, his son considers him slightly left-of-centre, but they put up with him regardless. His son has long since been aware of the fact that 'dad' buys stuff, and thus his idiosyncrasies should be tolerated.
Roger doesn't read anywhere enough books, doesn't watch enough movies, and keeps trying to remedy these omissions. To date he has routinely failed.
Recently he read a book called 'How Not To Write A Novel' by David Armstrong. His favourite quote from this book went along the lines of 'The harder you work the luckier you get'. He agrees with this principle, and thus has no intention of retiring from anything, ever.
He's just going to keep on writing, and he hopes people keep on reading, and now there are people showing up to readings and signings that he has never met before, he feels that his purpose as a writer is at last being accomplished.