Interview with Jill James

Please help me welcome Jill James to my blog today. Jill has a new book, Love in the Time of Zombies, coming out soon and you get to see the cover here first. Also, Jill will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commentor, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win.

LoveintheTimeofZombies_500x750_2Tell us about yourself. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. In the fifth grade we were given titles and had to write short stories. I still remember The Runaway Chevrolet and The Peanut Butter Airplane. LOL I hope my titles are a little better these days. I write under the pseudonym, Jill James because my husband is a cop and we like to protect our safety. I live in beautiful Northern California with my husband, two grown children with significant others, and one Brainy Grandson.

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer? Yes, I was a junior accountant with a tax firm and Accounts Receivable with a trucking company until I was rescued by my future husband to be a stay-at-home mom, wife, and writer.

What genre(s) do you write in and why? I have learned to never say never in regards to my writing. I used to say I would never write contemporary romance. Oops! I have a novel and a series in that subgenre. I used to say I would never write in first person. Oops again! I’m writing an urban fantasy in first person right now. I write contemporary and paranormal romance. It will probably always be romance, my favorite. I’m a sap for a happily ever after.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite? I have five published books. 1 almost at the publishing stage. And one under the bed never to be seen completed manuscript. My favorite is Dangerous Shift. That is truly the book of my heart. It wrote itself. I wrote 50,000 of its 76,000 words in two weeks.

Tell us about your current series/WIP. My current WIP is a soon to be published urban fantasy; Love in the Time of Zombies. Emily Gray is a rich, neglected wife in San Francisco until the day the Z virus took away all she knew and loved. She discovers her purpose, her power, her strength in the days that follow. She also learns of what love really is with Seth Ripley, a truck-driving poet. Love in the Time of Zombies should be out by the end of March.

What inspired your latest book? I’ve been on a zombie reading/watching kick for about 18 months. I seen good and I’ve seen bad. I believe if you can have zombies after your flesh, baddies after your limited resources, and living with just your wits and skills, and you can find love, how hard can it be in the normal world. Your own someone special is out there, go find them.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? Most of my stories start as dreams. My dreams are mostly like films that run all night long. When I wake up I have a whole story ready to be on paper or computer screen, as it may be.

How has your experience with self-publishing been? As a whole, it has been great. I love getting the book covers I want, writing the story the way I want it told, and knowing that I have control of my future.

author_avator_2What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish? It will be a roller-coaster ride. Some days you will dance with happiness over 1 sale and some days you will bang head to desk because of some mix-up that made your book unavailable during a massive promotion.

What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing? The hardest part has been making my own deadlines. It is too easy to say “Oh, I’ll just add another week, even though I told everyone it would be out this week.” The easiest part has been learning formatting (I do my own. Print and eBook). It started out hard but I did computer programming in college and although none of those programs are used any longer, the skills are still there.

What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish? Learn. Learn. Learn. Listen to anyone who is already doing it. Try doing it yourself. Learn what you can and can not do. Learn what you want and don’t want to do.

How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book? Very likely. I will use friends’ last names or first if I really like the name, but not their personalities. I will use conversations I overhear at Panera Bread or Starbuck’s where I write. If you tell me a funny story, be warned: it could end up in a book.

What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why? Hands down, conflict. I live in a family with an abundance of alpha males. I hate conflict. So it is really hard for me to add that element to my stories. I have to really work to have conflict and to resolve it realistically. Because my answer is to cry and walk away. 🙂

Are you a plotter or a pantser? A total anal-retentive, plotlines, plotting charts, white boards, index cards, plotter. The more, the better.

How far do you plan ahead? I usually plot out the planned books for the coming years. It can change from time to time if some opportunity comes up. But toward the end of one year I will plan the next.


36 thoughts on “Interview with Jill James

  1. Jill, I’d be interested to know if your readers have followed you to the different genres. I know some only read in one and so you can lose them when you move to another.

  2. Hi Jill, It’s nice to meet another author who writes their “dreams,” although I have to admit I’m much more of pantser when it comes to writing. After I have rough draft I go back revise and utilize that which I have learned as a writer. My walls are filled with pictures depicting places and people. Are yours? I know you use story boards. Thanks for giving such a wonderful interview. V

    • V, I’m very much a plotter. My first draft is pretty close to what it will be when finished. I may add some more details or straighten out a mixup of what happened when, but that is about it. I do get pictures on the internet of my hero and heroine so I can visualize them while writing. Right now I have Allysa Milano and Alex O’Loughlin for my Emily and Seth characters.

  3. I keep thinking about SP, but can’t get up my nerve! I love the movie Zombieland, but haven’t read a zombie book yet!

    • D’Ann, I kind of fell into self-publishing. I had a friend who got back a “good” rejection letter. And what an oxymoron that is! So since she was going to self-publish I thought I would give it a try. I’m published with a small e-press and I discovered I have to do so much promotion on my own, that self-publishing wouldn’t be much different.

  4. Waving, Jill. After all these years it is so fun to get to know you better. It sounds like you keep yourself very busy. Your Zombie books sounds interesting. I’ve been expanding my world and reading zombies, werewolves and vampires lately since my CP writes them It’s fun to add new genres to my reading list.

    Good luck with your new book sales.

  5. Wow, I just love,love your title! You gave some great advice and I can see you really enjoy your work.I admire your tenacity and I am interested in reading your book!Best of luck!
    Debra Jayne East

    • Debra, thank you very much. I went to college to learn computer programming so some of the elements of self-publishing are easy for me. If I didn’t love writing so much I probably would have become a web designer or ebook formatter.

  6. Jill, After recently finding myself hooked to the Walking Dead series, I’m really looking forward to reading your next release: Love in the Time of Zombies. Great post! 😀

  7. Hi, Jill! I’ll have to put ‘Love in the Time of Zombies’ on my TBR list. I’ve been hearing a lot about zombies lately, but I’m clueless as to the attraction. I love paranormal so I’m curious. Good luck when you release. 🙂

    • Thanks Dawn Marie. I’ve heard it is popular with zombies when people are down and depressed, but I don’t think so. I think it has a lot to do with beliefs of life and death. What happens after we die? What if we die and don’t die at the same time?

  8. I haven’t tried the zombie romance stuff yet but I might give it a try with the hero in your book being poetry-writing Seth Ripley. I can’t resist an alpha male who writes poetry – hence the man I married 😀

  9. great interview. i guess a lot of us work on our manuscripts while asleep. 🙂 altho i mostly try to sleep thinking of a specific plot problem as opposed to dreaming the novel start to finish. hmm, thinking up zombie titles are fun–the first zombies detective agency?– but i don’t know that i could even guess how to start writing them…

    • Thanks, Nora. Cynthia asked some really cool questions. I read a great zombie book awhile back. What if a virus caused the zombies? What if a cure was found and you would remember being a zombie? How would you live with that knowledge?

  10. Waving a big hello to Jill. Can’t wait to read this next one. You are a very diverse author and your books are always great, no matter what the genre.

    You are so darn organized. May I borrow you? I take three days to breath and I’m swamped afterwards.

  11. Hi, Jill, Cool new book cover. Northern California is so beautiful. My son lives there and I long to return. His ex brother-in-law is California Highway Patrol. With your husband a cop, I see why you use a pen name. 🙂 I see northern CA being a good place to set your zombies! I love that your dreams are story length. Mine are only bits and pieces, although I usually dream of ideas for what I’m working on. Great interview.

  12. Sounds like a good book! How would I love someone in a time of zombies? I guess, fast as I can! I mean, we could be killed at any time. So you kinda have to live now and screw tomorrow. 🙂

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