Friday, December 7, 2012

Interview with Jill Elizabeth Nelson


Today the Suspense Sisters host an interview with award-winning author and writing teacher, Jill Elizabeth Nelson. She says she writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith. A popular speaker for conferences, writers groups, and civic and church groups, she delights to bring the “Ahah! Moment” to her students as they make new skills their own. Her current release is Betrayal on the Border from Love Inspired Suspense.

S.S: How long have you been writing?

My writer’s journey began as an introverted child with her nose constantly in a book. In the sixth grade, I was blessed with a teacher who perched on a stool at a certain time each day and read to the class from the most imaginative stories. Something in this process of hearing a story awakened a realization in me—I didn’t merely want to be a person who received pleasure from a good book; I wanted to be the person who gave that pleasure to others.

I knuckled down right away and wrote my first novel—a perfectly awful mystery about a group of kid sleuths. Not a shred of that manuscript yet exists, and the world is grateful!

In between then and now, the dream of becoming a published novelist was born and died several grizzly deaths, until finally my “fullness of time” came. When doing speaking engagements about my books, I tell folks that if God can bring a dream to pass for this nobody in particular from nowhere special, He can and will do it for you!

S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?

I work full time outside the home, as well as holding down a writing career. At the day job, I’m the housing manager of a 36-unit senior apartment building, and I double there as the secretary (ahem—to be politically correct, the administrative assistant) to the CEO of the health care continuum that includes my apartment building. Madison Lutheran Home is the parent company of the hospital, nursing home, clinic, and senior housing complex.

I love being a writer. As related in my above answer, becoming a novelist was a long-held dream; however, I do enjoy my day job. It’s very fulfilling to feel like I’m helping people lead a better life longer. At Hilltop Residence we provide the best of both worlds—a complete private apartment (not just a bedroom), along with the services that help people age in place. We call it independence with peace of mind. Anyone ready to apply for residency? LOL.

S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?

I think it was when I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (it was American Christian Romance Writers then) and no one laughed me out of the group. In fact, they seemed to “get” me in a way that I hadn’t realized I was hungry for. Wow! I realized there were other people out there who thought like I did—inventing characters and situations in their heads—and it was okay. Normal, even. Novelists are supposed to think like that. Whoot! Whoot!

S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author? 

Currently, it’s my husband. Oddly enough, he’s not a book reader. Magazines and newspapers, yes, but not books, especially novels. All the same, he gets super excited every time I get a new contract, have a book come out, or win an award.

In the past, in fact all the way back to my childhood, my biggest cheerleader was my father. As I was growing up, he never had anything but encouragement for my writing aspirations, though I often doubted myself.

Sadly, he passed away when I was in my freshman year in college, but I dedicated my debut novel to him in the following words: To my dad, Robert Field, who always thought I could make it as a writer. He is no longer on earth to see this day, but I trust he knows in heaven.

(Sheesh! I’m kind of tearing up just reading those lines again.)

S.S:  Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?

As I related above, my first [dreadful] novel was a mystery, which is a genre closely related to suspense. Tales of mystery and suspense have always been my preferred genre to read and to watch as movies or TV shows, so it’s come naturally to me to write suspenseful stories.

However, I do write in other genres. I have an unpublished contemporary women’s fiction manuscript that I hope sees the published page one day. I also have a high fantasy series that truly are books of my heart. I’m convinced these will one day be published, even if under a pen name, so as not to confuse the readers who expect suspense from Jill Elizabeth Nelson. 

S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?

My faith plays into everything I do. I never leave God out of anything. He is in me and I in Him. Forever. Amen!

Every writer has a worldview and that view cannot help but creep into our stories. My life is centered around Jesus Christ. He is the most precious thing to me. That said, I don’t feel the need to make my stories evangelistic tracts. Such an approach would defeat the purpose of a novel, which is to tell a story. But the best stories convey truth wrapped in a package that stirs our souls. No wonder Jesus chose parables as one of His favorite ways to communicate with people!


S.S:  Tell us about your current release, Betrayal on the Border.

I had a great time writing this story about my ex-Army Ranger heroine and her investigative reporter hero. Here’s Betrayal on the Border in a capsule:

Former army communications specialist Maddie Jerrard may not remember the details of the deadly mission on the Texas-Mexico border, but she knows one thing. She's not the one responsible for the massive ambush that left only her and investigative journalist Chris Mason alive. Maddie is sure the culprit must be the only other survivor—Chris. Yet with suspicion—and danger—targeting them both, and a killer on their trail, partnering up is the only solution. But as Maddie and Chris get closer to uncovering the truth, they'll have to trust each other to make it through alive.
 
S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?

A couple of things: It’s never too late to learn to trust again, and God can bring good out of the blackest situation. Maddie starts out thinking the situation is hopeless on both of these counts. Gradually, despair fades before renewed faith—a journey through which I hope my readers find encouragement and enjoyment.

S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

Well, Maddie, of course. An early reviewer put the matter nicely, calling her an “intriguing role reversal.” Writing a hero capable of coping with this female ex-Army Ranger with his manhood intact was a fun challenge. Apparently, I did okay at it. The same reviewer called Chris “a hunky hero who is man enough to follow a capable woman.”

S.S: What are you working on now?

I had a call from my agent a few days ago. Love Inspired Suspense is contracting me for two more books. I don’t yet know when they release.

The first of the two, tentatively titled Shadow of Suspicion, features as the hero a secondary character from Betrayal on the Border—David Greene, a man suspected of murdering his girlfriend. The trouble is, even David doesn’t know for sure he’s innocent. Back when the murder happened he was a heathen with an attitude and a drinking problem. He was found passed out cold beside the dead body and no recollection of events.

The tragedy threw him into the arms of the Lord, but unless he can prove his innocence to himself and to a public that has already judged him, he might as well graduate to heaven for all the life he’ll be able to enjoy. His determination to uncover the truth endangers himself, as well as a woman he is growing to love and her young daughter.

Then the following book features a secondary character from Shadow of Suspicion, a beautiful but troubled woman seeking to overcome a dark and sad family heritage. I’m excited to write about the setting on Martha’s Vineyard. My readers and I will have lots of fun with rumors of pirate treasure and secret pasts.

S.O.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?

Readers can visit me on the web at: www.jillelizabethnelson.com or look me up on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JillElizabethNelson.Author or Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JillElizNelson. I love to hear from readers.

GIVEAWAY! I’d like to give away a copy of Betrayal on the Border to someone who responds to this blog post with a comment related to one of my answers to the interview questions.

26 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading your interview. My goodness, I have no idea where you find the time nor the energy for all that you do. I'm looking forward to your new releases with love inspired suspense. I have a monthly subscription and love it. 4 new wonderful books every month. Please don't register me for the drawing as I have the book. Blessings, Susan Fryman

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    1. Thanks for your faithful support, Susan. I'm so glad you enjoy the LIS books. :-)

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  2. Jill - I so agree with what you said here: "A couple of things: It’s never too late to learn to trust again, and God can bring good out of the blackest situation." I have found this out the hard way and am in some situations right now that I needed reminded of this again.

    I have read your novel, "Calculated Revenge" and loved it. I would enjoy reading another of your books!

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    1. Hi, Shelley: So glad I could say something that resonates with you. I, too, have learned this lesson the hard way . . . more than once. I guess trust with people and God continuing need refreshing and deepening.

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  3. I really enjoyed your interview. I am a huge fan of your work. Do you have any advice for beginner writers?

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    1. Hi, Homeschool Mama. Good for you! I hope it's going well. I didn't find much time to return to my passion for writing until my kids were old enough to be fairly independent.

      My main piece of advice to beginners is WRITE! Write as much and as often as you can. Try your hand at different kinds and styles of writing. See what fits you best.

      Then start sending out small pieces. You'll get a lot of rejections at first.

      While you're doing all of this, educate yourself on your craft. There are classes that can be taken on-line. If you become a member of Amercian Christian Fiction Writers or any of a number of other organizations, they usually offer classes by and for their members.

      And a final piece of advice, begin to hobnob, schmooze, and otherwise interact with fellow writers--this can be in person or on-line, through one or more of those organizations I mentioned, and particularly through attending writers conferences.

      I don't think I would be published now if I hadn't started attending conferences. I snagged a scholarship to attend my first one. God always made a way.

      Blessings on your growth and education as a writer!

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  4. On April 31,2011 I was taking my then 12 year to a baseball game on a Sat. morning on the way there a car that was 3-4 cars in front of me wanted to turn into a store and everyone stop and a lady came from behind me going 45mph she hit me I as I was stop into the tree trimming tree that was in front of me .I threw out my arm to protect Micah from going forward . I am not suppose to be alive .BUT GOD had a different plan I have there is severe muscle sprain in my neck and back from it . I try and think of what would have happen if I was not between that lady who hit me and the truck she would have died right then or if it was a older person or couple they could have die as well .That is what helps me get through this .God had his hand on me and my son that day that is for sure .I believe I am healed no matter what my body says God said I am so I am.Would love to win a copy of your book please !! Thank you ,Dana Spille jashbk@earthlink.net

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    1. Wonderful testimony, Dana, and an awesome attitude! I agree with you that God is restoring this situation entirely, including your physical health. Blessings!

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  5. Hello Jill, I enjoyed reading your interview. Writing a book in 6th grade? WOW! I think I would have kept that forever, just because was my first. Glad your dad always supported you in wanting to write and sorry he isn't around to see your success. You sound like a very busy lady with tending an APT. complex(which I assume would involve a lot of time. And, still finding time to write. Good for you. I would love to win your book. It sounds very interesting to me. Thanks for the chance. Also, to my Suspense Sister friends.
    Maxie ( mac262@me.com )

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    1. Hi, Maxie. So glad you dropped by. I agree the very early manuscript would be a cool keepsake these days, but back then I wasn't thinking about it in those terms. The book didn't survive our family's several moves along the road of life. :-)

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  6. Jill, I love that you work with seniors! I enjoyed learning that about you! That's awesome! It's amazing that you do something besides write! You are one busy woman! I look forward to reading this book.

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    1. Hi, Valri. Yep, I'm busy, but God bestows the grace. So true of us all, I think. Thanks for dropping by the blog and leaving a comment!

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  7. I also think its great you work with seniors.Have always tried to be around them to learn from them as I feel they have alot of wisdom from experience.I also love it when authors portray God in their stories as the center of all help and peace in the story..God bless you Donita donitacorman@yahoo.com

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    1. Hi, Donita. Great to "meet" you here. Yes, working with seniors is a wonderful blessing. A challenge at times, too, but I think that's true of any profession. I enjoy it. It's an honor to serve them.

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  8. I love christian fiction but suspense is my favoraite. I love to read how the authors faith plays out in the charcaters. You never know their veiw can can open the world of the bible to you. Thanks you for useing your faith in everything you write.
    inspiremichelle@yahoo.com

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    1. Stories are a very cool way to convey nuggets of Truth. People open their hearts to stories and can be greatly impacted. Being a writer is a wonderful opportunity, and I thank God for using me this way. Thanks for dropping by the blog!

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  9. I loved hearing about your novel as a child. I wrote one one in 2nd or 3rd grade. All I remember is the title: The Mystery Of The Five Pigs. And it's even more of a mystery now I' m sure since I have NO CLUE what it was about. ;) Your current book sounds like a really good one. I'd love to win.

    Pen
    pmettert @ yahoo dot com

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    1. Oh, cool, Pen! You wrote a book in your childhood. Love the title! ;-) Mine was The Mystery of the Thirteen Story Mansion. How absurd is that?! So great to "meet" you here!

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  10. Great interview! I also loved hearing about your writing experience as a young girl and how your dad was your biggest supporter and now your husband is even though he is not a book reader. It is so important for our hubbies to support us in whatever it is that we want to do. I would love to read your current book and thank you for the giveaway.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    azladijo(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Hi, Jo. Yes, our mates are intended by God to be our biggest supporters. I try to mindfully work at that role. Thanks so much for dropping by the blog!

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  11. This looks like a great read and I can't wait to pick it up!

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    1. Hi, and welcome to Suspense Sisters blog. Glad you stopped by!

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  12. I love that your husband supports your writing efforts. My husband has always been my biggest support in any of my efforts, and I love him for it. I would love to win a copy of your book.
    linlee822@gmail.com

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    1. Hi, Linda. Yes, I'm so glad my husband is supportive and understanding, particularly when I'm on deadline. He doesn't get much interaction with me when I'm on the spring to the finish line with a manuscript. Glad to hear that you also have a supportive hubby. thanks for dropping by the blog!

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  13. I love that your husband is such a support for you and that your dad was your cheerleader. You are so blessed to be supported by the men in your life.
    Shirley
    beekeeper5(at)bellsouth(dot)net

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  14. I love this interview. It truly encourages me to continue to write songs and stay focused because God will make room for your gift. I love when you said we need to stay wrapped in Jesus Christ. Thanks so much. I love suspense and I love reading. I will pray God continues to bless you because it eventually blesses us as the readers.
    Debora at deb37beny@comcast.net

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