AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: JILL ELAINE HUGHES
Today in bunny land we are interviewing Jill Hughes…..
What is your most current work out ?
I have three books out at the moment—Templand, The Domino Effect, and Zombie, Incorporated. All three fall under the New Adult genre, though I would say Zombie, Incorporated will also appeal to YA audiences.
For the purpose of this interview, we’ll focus on The Domino Effect. I self-published the book for Amazon Kindle and other ebook outlets. In the past, I’ve had books published by Ellora’s Cave, Ravenous Romance, Random House/Virgin Books, and Decadent Publishing to name a few places you might have seen me.
Tell us a little about The Domino Effect and your inspiration to write it:
The Domino Effect is an erotic thriller written for the New Adult genre. The heroine Nancy Delaney is 21 and a virgin, and she gets entangled with an older and very powerful man as part of a freelance journalism assignment. On the surface it might sound like another Fifty Shades clone—but I can assure you that’s not the case. The hero Peter Rostovich is a famous-yet-reclusive artist who is rumored to have ties to international organized crime. The heroine meets him to prepare for an article she’s hired to write about him and his work. In her efforts to uncover the truth about a man notorious for toying with the press and hiding the true (likely shady) sources of his vast fortune, Nancy becomes romantically entangled with her interview subject, and then caught in the middle of an international crime network that wants her either enslaved or dead.
I wrote The Domino Effect while I was pregnant and working full-time as a journalist. I was hormonal and hungry the whole time, and I guess you could say that really comes across throughout the book!
I’ve been a professional writer and reporter ever since I was a college student majoring in literature, so there’s a lot of me in Nancy Delaney. Like Nancy, I worked hard to put myself through school on a combination of scholarships and odd jobs. And also like Nancy, I have encountered my share of high-powered and/or artistic oddballs thanks to my choice of career. I also had more than a few affairs with mysterious international men (none of mine ended well, though). Not only that, I’m a world traveler myself, and my combination of hard-hitting reporter with a broad worldview has always made me a sucker for the international thriller genre. (Think authors like John Le Carré, Steig Larssen, and Lee Child). So I thought I would put a new twist on the classic “hot billionaire CEO” erotica/bondage genre by writing a New Adult heroine (Nancy is 21 and still in college) who gets entangled with Peter Rostovich, a mysterious billionaire artist who may or may not have ties to international organized crime. Nancy loses her virginity and her innocence thanks to her chance encounter with Rostovich—-but her adventure and journey through the underbelly of the sinister human-trafficking world serves not only as her sexual awakening, it also puts her on track to become one of the world’s most sought-after journalists.
Meanwhile, the character of Peter Rostovich isn’t based so much on reality (i.e., my own life experience) as on a fantasy ideal. Peter is elusive, sexy, creative and powerful all at once—you never quite know what you’re getting with him, and that’s what makes him so appealing. At one point in the book Nancy describes her constant attempts to find out what really makes Rostovich tick as “like trying to trap an eel.” A reclusive artist who has somehow been able to blend a successful art career with shady international business dealings (Nancy’s attempts to uncover what exactly those business dealings are is a major plot point), Rostovich is an expert when it comes to staying one step ahead of the media, who are as fascinated with him as he is resistant to their constant attempts to discover exactly who and what he is. Rostovich enjoys toying with reporters, women, and anyone else who tries to crack his very tough nut—-think Joaquin Phoenix, except he’s an artist from the Ukraine instead of an American actor. You could say Rostovich is also a more elegant, sexier version of Andy Kaufman—turning his life into an elaborate ruse that is a work of art in and of itself. Oh, and did I mention in addition to being tall, dark and handsome with a sexy foreign accent, he’s also into bondage?
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I do a little of both. I always have a broad general idea of what kind of story I’m writing, but I do find the characters often take over how the story actually develops. I often wonder if my fingers get hijacked by the voices in my head as I’m typing!
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I have always written in the erotic romance genre, though up to now I’ve done it under a pen name—“Jamaica Layne.” The Domino Effect is the first book in that genre I’ve published under my own name. My first published novel, Market For Love (now out of print) was an erotic romance released by Random House/Virgin Books and was a straight erotic romance. Though The Domino Effect is my first erotic thriller, a lot of my readers of my past books have said that my storylines kept them on the edge of their seat, so I think it was inevitable I moved into the thriller genre, especially since I love reading thrillers.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
My favorite character from any of my books by far is Peter Rostovich, the hero of The Domino Effect. I’m convinced that the pregnancy hormones raging through my body when I was writing the book helped create him! He’s mysterious, creative, artistic, dark, sinister, and always keeps you guessing. He’s alluring and worldly, yet with a gritty bad-boy streak that you want to know more about!
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
I’d also say Peter Rostovich. While he’s my favorite character that I’ve ever created, he was also a tough one to write because his mystery is a big part of his appeal. Peter reveals very little about himself—most of what we know about him is what we hear from other characters. But nobody is sure they know the “real” Rostovich, and he makes planting false information about himself with others and the media part of his quirky brand of art. Rostovich is a performance artist of sorts, who has made toying with the media part of his “act.” I had to walk a delicate line when crafting him, giving you backstory from third parties while delicately reinforcing what they say about him here and there in his actions. The mystery is what will keep you turning the pages.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Sometimes, certainly. Though The Domino Effect is very different from my humdrum life as a suburban mother! But I am a professional journalist, just like heroine Nancy Delaney, and I’ve encountered some unusual characters in my work. My earliest assignments as a journalist was reviewing art shows, which is where I met some very strange male artists who served as a partial inspiration for Rostovich. I also made extra cash as a young adult by posing nude for painters and sculptors, and those experiences also helped inspire this book.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
I think it’s the pressure to always be “on” even when you aren’t in the mood to write. Writing is my full-time job and livelihood, so I can’t take a break just because I don’t feel like writing! (If I did, my bills wouldn’t get paid).
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
My original college major was architecture. I switched to English Literature/Creative Writing when I realized I wasn’t cut out to be an architect!
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I like trashy reality shows like Hardcore Pawn and Hoarders.
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
Breaking Bad! And Downton Abbey.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I need a Diet Coke and a walk around the block!
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Not usually. I require complete silence to write. But I do sometimes listen to music to unwind.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I’d pick Jennifer Lawrence to play Nancy Delaney, and Bradley Cooper or Daniel Craig to play Peter Rostovich.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I got my first book contract almost ten years ago, so it’s hard to remember how it happened. I think I was at work so I couldn’t tell anyone right away.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I think I was around eleven. (I was an early bloomer.)
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Sara Gruen! And Jennifer Weiner.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I write full-time!
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
One of the best films I’ve seen recently is An Education.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m currently working on the sequel to The Domino Effect, which is tentatively titled The Butterfly Effect. It’s the second book in the series and will pick up right where the first book left off.
How do you pick your characters names?
I choose whatever name comes to mind first.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I like a bit of both. Instant physical attraction, but the emotional/spiritual part takes time.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side –
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Ranger or Morelli
Morelli! Because I like the Italian cops!