AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: JILLIAN STONE
Author Jillian Stone has stopped by to chat with the bunnies at Joyfully Reviewd….
What is your most current work out?
A Private Duel with Agent Gunn, the fourth book in the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series released November 27, 2012, Pocket Books.
Tell us a little about A Private Duel with Agent Gunn and its inspiration?
Readers first meet Phineas Gunn in book two, A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis, and Finn has another supporting role in the novella, A Lesson in Chemistry with Inspector Bruce.
I refuse to be a spoiler and give too much away, but I have worked hard to create a take your breath away hero, who suffers from Soldier’s Heart, the PTSD of the Victorian era. What is great about Finn is his dogged determination to live with and work through his nervous condition in an era that understood almost nothing about the mental and emotional wounds of war.
In A Private Duel with Agent Gunn, Scotland Yard asks the undercover operative to get close to a ballerina and suspected jewel thief who may also be an anarchist sympathizer. And since she and Finn have a past (there was a brief love affair in Barcelona) Finn’s new assignment is all the more intriguing.
As the two race across the Continent—by land, by sea, even through the air by zephyr—it becomes uncertain who is keeping tabs on whom, and Finn and Cate must battle the sexual tension that snaps and sizzles between them every step of the way.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I have a definite idea of the storyline including most of the plot turns. I always remain flexible so that the characters can take the story to new and better places. The characters don’t have to be fully fleshed out, but I need to be able to hear their voice in my head to write dialogue.
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 an interest in all genres, but I particularly enjoy writing romantic suspense. I am currently writing a contemporary romance in first person, which is a huge challenge for me.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
My favorite characters are the ones I’m currently writing! After I finish a book it is difficult for me to start another right away. The characters are in my head for several weeks.
But I have to admit that Finn Gunn and Doctor Exeter are my two favorite heroes right now. I just turned in The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter to my editor. (Part of the steamy steampunk series I write for Kensington Brava.) My favorite heroines so far are Fiona Rose, from A Lesson in Chemistry with Inspector Bruce, and Anatolia “Mia” Chadwick, Exeter’s grown up ward.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Probably Phaeton Black, because he is a Byronic hero––an antihero that I took a lot of risks with. Here’s Lord MacCauly’s description of a Byronic hero: “a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection”
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Every character I write is part real person, part actor and part pure imagination. I tell everyone I meet that I use everything in my writing, so be careful what you tell me, it just might show up (in some twisted form) in my next novel.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Writing on demand, to deadline is something I continue to stress over. Mostly because I don’t believe that every word I type is brilliant. So I like to do a lot of rewrite which stresses me out when I get close to deadline.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I used to direct TV commercials. I spent years in advertising as a creative and at one point worked as a director for two different production companies.
What TV Show are you addicted to? I love being able to catch up on series I missed the first time around with Netflix. Right now I’m watching Friday Night Lights. I discovered Prison Beak and finally finished Lost this way!
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Coffee. Music. Exercise. Some of my best work comes from taking a break and going to the gym.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Tom Hardy has the intensity and the hotness to play Agent Gunn, and probably Keira Knightly as Cate Willoughby––her voice is right and she has a dancer’s body.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was on my way to the 2010 RWA Nationals because An Affair with Mr. Kennedy (The Yard Man) was a finalist in the Golden Heart. I had a layover in the Dallas airport and checked my phone messages. There was a call from a 212 area code, which probably meant that someone in NYC––likely an agent, had an interest in representing one of the manuscripts (I was circulating two different manuscripts at the time). Turns out it was an editor at Kensington with an offer for The Seduction of Phaeton Black and two more books. WOW! As it turned out, I had a lucky, lucky week in Orlando, as well. I spoke with a number of agents who were interested in representing me (all of a sudden) and my other manuscript, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy won the Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense. That is how I ended up with two contracts and an agent.
I know this sounds like some kind of writer’s dream, but I think all this early luck kind of hurt me as an author. Number one, I wasn’t ready for so much success at once. Two, I wrote five books in 24 months and am only now emerging from my writer’s cave of the last two years and beginning to feel human again.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I never read much romance before I started to write it. Odd, I know!
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books? Gee, I go pretty fan girl over Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon. I also love some of Laura Kinsale and Loretta Chase’s work.
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs what is it?
I still work as a freelance art director/graphic designer. I take advertising, design and copywriting assignments. I am actually looking forward to designing a cover for an indie book which I want to release in late fall 2013.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
I just saw Skyfall, which I loved.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
This coming year, my goal is to release at least one traditionally pubbed book, one e-pubbed book and one indie e-pubbed book.
How do you pick your characters names?
I am really peculiar about names. I sometimes change a character’s name several times at the beginning of a book. I use all sorts of online resources, including two sites that specialize in Victorian names.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Both scenarios can be great, as well as lovers with a past.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books.”
I don’t introduce myself as a romance author. I tell people I write romantic suspense which must be more palatable to the non-romance reader, because I rarely suffer even an eye roll. When I talk about The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard, they seem to get the Sherlock Holmes, gaslight romantic suspense thing.
I used to love to tell people I write erotica and watch their reaction. It was more fun before Fifty Shades of Grey made a bazillion dollars.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Something on the dark side, but not too bitter!