Award-winning author and writing teacher, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith. Jill is a popular speaker for conferences, writers groups, library associations, civic and church groups. She delights to bring the “Ahah! Moment” to students as they make new skills their own. Her bestselling handbook for writers, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, is available at http://amzn.to/IvQTkj. Her current release is Shake Down from Love Inspired Romantic Suspense.
Leave a comment at the end of this interview for a chance to win a copy of Shake Down.
SS: How long have you been writing?
By the time I was in the 6th grade, I was a voracious reader. My teacher that year was a kindred soul. Daily, she would perch on a stool at the head of the class and read the most delightful stories to us. Somewhere in the process of that exposure, it dawned on me that I wanted not merely to be the person who received pleasure from a good book but the one who gave that pleasure to others. That year, I wrote my first novel--a mystery, of course, but the world is grateful that not a shred of it yet exists. ;-) However, from then on the fire was lit. At times, the blaze has dimmed to embers, but it has never gone out.
My writer's journey has taken me in many different directions. I've walked the roads of journalist, essayist, columnist, essayist, poet, story teller and book reviewer. My current path is the one I've coveted all along--novelist. My Guide and Mentor in all my travels is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It's a wonderful journey!
SS: 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?
No, I don't write full time--yet. I'm a dual career writer at the moment. By day, I'm the manager of a 36-unit Housing with Services apartment building for seniors. I love my work and serving the elderly. Writing is my night and weekend job.
SS: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a "real author."
My moment happened just after the desert course at a writer's conference banquet in 2005. We were supposed to have our cell phones turned off, but I didn't dare comply. All afternoon I'd been expecting the call from my agent with the results of the publication board meeting at Multnomah, where they were considering my manuscript, Reluctant Burglar. The phone rang, and I slipped from the room, barely able to take in a full breath.
"Are you sitting down?" my agent said in a somber voice that telegraphed another rejection.
My heart sank, and I swallowed deeply.
Then she yelled in my ear: "They're offering you a three-book contract!"
What a wonderful occasion!! Not only had my dream of becoming a novelist come true, but sharing the moment with fellow writers was an incredibly sweet gift from the Lord.
SS: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author?
My husband. Definitely. He's been patient and encouraging every step of the way. He's an extrovert and loves to talk when he comes home, but when I'm writing--particularly when I'm on deadline--he is conscientious about not interrupting me. Quite a sacrifice from him!
I think if my dad had lived to see my books published, he would also have been a big supporter. In my embryo days of high school scribbling, he was my biggest fan. He passed away when I was 18. Reluctant Burglar is dedicated to his memory.
SS: How does your faith play into your writing?
Since my faith permeates every area of my life, writing is no exception. Some stories contain a more overt gospel message, others more subtle, but I strive to honor God in everything I write. I see no point in any activity that doesn't do that.
SS: If you couldn't write, what else would you do?
I'm already preparing to do it--go on the mission field. This fall, I will be resigning my position as housing manager. My husband (who is already retired) and I will then head for Thailand for a four month stint at a mission training center that serves ministers in numerous countries throughout Asia. We're getting very excited!
Fortunately, writing is a career I can pursue anywhere on the planet, so I won't have to choose between being a missionary and writing. In fact, writing income will help support us on the field.
SS: Tell us about your current book release.
Shake Down tells the story of two people driven by nightmare family legacies that converge dangerously on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Here's the back cover blurb:
House of Secrets! To clear his imprisoned father’s name, Shane Gillum must find evidence hidden in a Martha’s Vineyard cottage. But he arrives to find the “vacant” property being prepped for sale by real estate agent Janice Swenson. Is she tied to the notorious owners? Or is she in over her head as the “accidents” on the property grow increasingly dangerous? And who is the saboteur targeting—Shane with his search, or Janice with her dark, hidden past? With so much at stake, trusting Janice is a huge risk . . . but keeping silent about the cottage’s mysteries could mire them both in a deadly scheme.
SS: Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
Probably Janice. Her backstory is so awful--unimaginable to most of us. I enjoyed writing her as a character to be admired, not pitied. She was something of a mystery to be plumbed, even for me. I actually didn't know until toward the end of the first draft how her story would ultimately dovetail with the discovered diary of an ancestress and what impact the choices of her forebear would have on the modern-day woman--or upon her and Shane as a couple. My readers will tell me if I've drawn the threads together effectively.
SS: Now let's get a little personal. Name something on your "bucket list" that you haven't done yet.
Visit my sister in Alaska. Never been there, even though she's lived there for years. I will fulfill that goal this fall. On our way to Bangkok, we're going to take a detour to Alaska and spend Thanksgiving with her family.
SS: Where can readers find you on the internet?
I'd love for readers to visit me on the web at http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com. My web site contest page offers a monthly opportunity to play a game for a chance to win a copy of my latest release. Readers can also meet up with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JillElizabethNelson.Author.
If you would like to win a copy of Jill's book, Shake Down, leave a comment, along with your contact information. We'll draw a winner on Monday! Thanks for visiting the Suspense Sisters blog.