Monday, September 10, 2012

Fabulous Interview with the Fabulous...Jillian Stone

Hellion: Jillian! It is such an honor to visit you, and I love your office. [glancing around at the various interesting instruments littering every available workspace, along with parts that don’t seem connected to anything, and something that looks alarmingly like a rocket] I’m surprised you let me come into your super-secret-agent workspace. JACK! Put that down! What did I tell you about touching?

Jillian: Ahoy there, Ms. Hellion and Jack! Yes, you’ve nailed it all right. My writer’s cave-like office is filled with brass clockwork gadgets and steam-powered gizmos for the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard to use in their crime solving efforts––like dry cell battery flashlights, or as the Brits call them: torches.

Hellion: I’m sorry about Jack. He usually does the interviews, and he also loved the first book in this series, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, but I won the coin toss. I would have left him at home, but he couldn’t bear to miss the landship and the submersible. Will he be able to see more of them?

Jillian: If you read the debut novel, An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, then you’ve met Rafe Lewis, the hero of A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis. But you haven’t met his estranged ex fiancée, Fanny, nor have you experienced them together––which is a big part of the fun of this book. Rafe and Fanny’s adventure is what I like to call a road trip romance that includes trains, a landship, a submersible and velocipedes (or as we know them, bicycles). Here’s the jacket blurb:

When Fanny Greyville-Nugent's father suffers a gruesome death in the clutches of his own machine, mourning his loss is not the beautiful heiress's only heartbreak. Scotland Yard is convinced her father was targeted in a plot to halt the rise of industry, and Fanny's former fiancé, the dashing and dubious detective Raphael "Rafe" Lewis, has been assigned to the case.
For the estranged ex-lovers, bringing the notorious assassins to justice proves as tumultuous as quelling pent-up desires. Fighting peril and passion at every turn of a dangerous journey from Edinburgh to London, they are pursued by an anarchist group hell-bent on destroying her father's mysterious entry into the London Industrial Exposition.
When an astonishing discovery about the couple's failed engagement surfaces, the sleuthing duo realize they can trust no one. Rafe confesses new details about his infidelity and Fanny risks all to avenge her father's murder. But will Rafe and Fanny triumph over the pain of their past?

Hellion: I know Mr. Kennedy’s book was the book that won the Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense. Can you tell us what it was like to enter that contest—and to win? Our bo’sun, Terri, was a nominee for the Golden Heart this year. We hear of so many great books that are nominated; some that win; and many more that go on to be published.

Jillian: Congrats to Terri! It’s quite an honor to final in the GH. An Affair with Mr. Kennedy was originally titled The Yard Man. I entered the 2010 Golden Heart after the manuscript had finaled in a number of RWA chapter contests. (A good way to get your manuscript ready for the Golden Heart.) I had been entering the manuscript in either historical or romantic suspense categories, and it had finaled a few more times in the romantic suspense category. I’m afraid that was the extent of my GH strategy! I was just floored when I finaled, but the dream to reality thing is really scary for me.

On my way to Orlando for the RWA Nationals, I changed planes in Dallas and noticed that I had received a call with a 212 area code, yes, that’s right––NYC. I pressed the return call button and it turned out to be Kensington with an offer on a different manuscript I had just started to market, The Seduction of Phaeton Black. So I arrived at nationals with a three book offer, and the GH award ceremony. At the end of a hectic week, I had won the GH and met the person who would become my agent, Richard Curtis.

All very whirlwind, and pretty overwhelming, but the glamour ends the minute you return home and start writing. I had never written books to a contract deadline before. Let me tell you, it’s been interesting!

Hellion: Ha, I know some of us can identify with that! In Mr. Kennedy’s book, one of his colleagues is Rafe Lewis, who I immediately fell for because he was dark, brooding, gorgeous, and a total ladykiller. Was this a correct deduction? What is the real Rafe Lewis really like?

Jillian: Rafe has secrets. Things he’s not sharing with anyone, including Scotland Yard. In An Affair with Mr. Kennedy you met his more public personae. In A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis, you will meet and get to know many surprising sides of Rafe. I can’t give too much away, as I do not want to be a spoiler!
Unknown to the publicat large, the dry cell battery is created in a secret laboratory funded by theWar Office. This is the first battery suitable for portable electrical devices,as does not spill or break easily and works in any orientation. A number of these prototypetorchlight devices are tested by Scotland Yard, whose Special Branch detectivesrespond favorably to them.
Hellion: My next favorite discovery is that the heroine was named Fanny, which isn’t too far off my own given name. A delicious man, a heroine who I could imagine to be a bit like me (hey, we all have our fantasies)—and voila, I discover they are reunited lovers. My favorite fantasy to slip into! Why did you pick this trope? Besides being natural to the story, do you favor stories with reunited lovers too? What do you think is the draw?

Jillian: OMG, it sounds like I hit on a couple of favorites of yours, and I do hope you enjoy. Pressure’s on! I think what I love is heroes and heroines with baggage, and if their less than perfect past involves each other––even better.

Hellion: Your series—and the other series you write about Phaeton Black—features many elements of steampunk. What elements will the readers be seeing in Fanny and Rafe’s book? And how do you create this magical-scientific world?

Jillian: Both series do incorporate elements of steampunk. Think of The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard as late Victorian period James Bond characters––with steampunk gadgets and vehicles. I do exaggerate some of the slightly futuristic gadgets, like the flashlight (torch) I mentioned earlier.

Hellion: Since we’re a group of scribbling writers, we love to hear Call Stories. What was your Call Story? And what piece of advice would you give fellow writers?

Jillian: I think I pretty much told my call stories. First, the GH finaling call, which is off the charts. Then the call in the Dallas airport on my way to nationals with the book offer. I probably could have flown to Orlando from Dallas without a plane! Then winning the GH. Anne Stuart opened the envelope and said: ”...and the winner is... and called my name. Really thrilling! Then a few weeks later, my agent called me with the news that An Affair with Mr. Kennedy had sold to Pocket––which was really awesome!
Known affectionatelyas "Roger" by Special Branch Yard men, the skeleton key is capable ofopening any lock regardless of make or type. This key has an interestingrole to play in the upcoming, A Private Duel with Agent Gunn.
Everyone says my call story is a fairy tale story. But there are problems with being a real life human being in a happily ever after tale. No matter who you are, you’re going to take your knocks as a writer. Too much good luck can cause resentments with critique partners and writer friends, and the snarky reviewers are...everywhere these days. Trust me, there’s good reason the rocky road to becoming a published author is so difficult––it’s preparing you for how tough it’s going to get.

Hellion: What’s up next for the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard?

Jillian: There’s an e-novella for Pocket Star coming out in early November, and another full length novel the end of November! A Private Duel with Agent Gunn. You will meet Agent Gunn in Rafe and Fanny’s story.
The Webley Mk I .455Revolver. Standard issue small-arm for Special Branch Yard men.
Hellion: Jillian, I just want to thank you again for letting me stop by and I hope you will stopy by again in November when Agent Gunn hits the str—JACK! Put down that gun—is that a gun? Whatever, I know it’s a weapon and for God’s sake, don’t point it at me! [there’s an explosion and Hellion screams as she and Jillian dive to the floor, unhurt; Jack is covered in gunpowder soot] I’m really sorry about Jack.

Jillian: Thanks so much for having me, Hellion. No need to apologize for Jack, as long as it’s Jack Sparrow. Do you think it’s the gunpowder that gives Johnny Depp those smoky eyes?

I have a question for readers. I am currently working on three more synopses for The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. When you read romantic suspense, do you like an equal mix of action, suspense and romance, or do you prefer the romance to dominate the story?
A signed copy of A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis to one lucky commenter chosen at random!


Maureen said...

Oh, wow! I must read this book! I think I have the first on my e-reader after your last visit!

Now, for me...I love action coupled with romance. Suspense I can take or leave, but I'm an old Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, so give me ADVENTURE! Plus some romance...


And I do appeciate your words on good luck and how it balances out...

MsHellion said...

I'm more romance than action usually (just in my general reading)--but I don't know if these books would work that way. I think yours are more realistic in a sense--because nothing drags me out of a story FASTER than to be on the run for my life with these characters and the hero inexplicably STOP in the middle of the road to have a heart to heart and kisses her "just in case". I just want to shout, "Not now, Stupid! You're being SHOT AT!"

So if you're being shot at and your life is danger, I prefer the romance to take a back seat, definitely. You can catch up later...throw around some sexy quips or something, but nothing that stops you in the middle of a chase. *LOL*

I felt a bit exhausted for Rafe and Fanny, because they were literally running the whole time. I was like, "I would have been shot by now and glad of it so I could get some rest." But they kept on...and it was exciting. I *LOVED* the extras: the submersible and the land-thingie. Basically a tank but not called a tank. *LOL* AWESOME.

I think you have the perfect blend of all three: action, romance, and suspense. Such fun!

TerriOsburn said...

I'm all about the romance but if the romance is intertwined with action and adventure, all the better. You've had an amazing run and I'd say your success is all deserved. Clearly you're one amazing writer. And to create a completely unique series these days is nigh impossible. To create TWO? Unheard of!

Well done and thanks for bringing the fun to the ship. (Or letting us come to the fun, as the case may be.) And thanks for the congrats. Totally agree, that GH call is the beginning of a mind-boggling ride.

Gjillian said...

Hi Maureen,

My editor helped with keeping the action and the romance balanced. It is so tricky because in a story like this, you have to give the hero and heroine a rest,let them develop the romance, and work through their issues! I cut several scenes and cut back several others. With this kind of extended chase scene, you also have to give the reader a rest!

Gjillian said...

Ms Hellion,

These Gentlemen of Scotland Yard pretty much fall into the Romantic Suspense category, but my publisher puts them in the historical category which puts them up against Regency character driven/high concept plots that all revolve around traditional romance tropes.

I hope my novels will eventually find their audience and catch on. Since I crossover several subgenres I think it takes time for readers to find me because they are coming from different subgenre categories.

Gjillian said...

Hi Terri,

You are so kind to say so! Actually, I am probably not going to continue to write two different series. My thinking early one was, well let's try this...lets see which series takes off...but then I didn't realize I wouldn't get out my writer's cave for two years! ;)

In another month or so, I will be able to come up for air, and then concentrate on writing one series at a time!

MsHellion said...

I think when they take off, they'll take off big. They're so much fun and they're so well-written! A lot of what I love about your writing is simply how you worded something--or the vocabulary used. It's so much fun to read and really adds a taste of the Victorian to the story. Lyrical and exciting at the same time.

Marnee Bailey said...

Hi Jillian!!

I loved your call stories! How surreal that all must have been. I really enjoyed An Affair with Mr. Kennedy so I'm looking forward to this next installment.

I prefer the romance to be at least a little bit more important than the suspense. But not by much. I like some action and I like some suspense. Okay, I like a lot of both. But, I think the romance still has to be the big thing.

Gjillian said...


Thanks, I do hope to continue writing more love stories and adventures for the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard. And did I mention they are fun to write?

Gjillian said...

Hi Marnee,

It is surreal, especially when it piles on like that. And that kind of luck never happens to me, so when it did, I was whirling!

I like to keep the romance at half and half, or better. And I do try to integrate the love scenes so that they are unpredictable but still believable!

TerriOsburn said...

I think there were issues with our domain provider and our site was down for a little while today. Thanks for hanging with us, Jillian. We always look forward to your visits. And thanks for letting us know you're not really Wonder Woman and will be cutting back to one series at a time. :)

Haleigh said...

I'm late to the party (surprise!) but wanted to say that both these series sound amazing, Jill! I'm always looking for good examples of mixing the romance with the action and suspense. I tend to focus on one at a time, so in the middle of the running and shooting, they stop to have a heart-to-heart, which isn't really plausible as . . . I can't wait to read this book and see how you to did it!

Gjillian said...

Terri: I always enjoy blogging on your site. Thanks to MsHellion for the invite!

Haleigh: I do hope you pick up Detective far as integrating action and romance, it is a bit tricky, I just try to make the most of the breathers in the action! ;)