Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Interview with Jill Nelson!
Jill Nelson, new author of the To Catch a Thief series, has created a unique and fun filled story brimming with intense, interesting characters and heart-pounding suspense that will leave you guessing until the very end!
Betsy: Welcome Jill! Thanks for joining us today. What inspired you to write Reluctant Burglar?
Jill: A literal dream. I woke up one morning, all tense, after a dream about a woman who had sneaked into someone’s house to return a genuine painting in place of the forgery that was on display. I didn’t know much about her except that she was an expert at what she did, and if she was caught, disaster would strike many people. That bit of back-story is on my web site. What’s not there is the wrestling authors do to make impossible scenarios plausible. What occupation could I give my heroine that would make thievery honest? And what situation would she need to face to put her in the dire dilemma of my dream? The answers that came to me are found in Reluctant Burglar.
Betsy: Wow, that's great! I understand there are two more books coming up in this series. Can you give readers any hints or tidbits of what is to come?
Jill: The action of Reluctant Burglar stays primarily in Boston—home stomping ground to museum security expert Desiree Jacobs and FBI agent Tony Lucano. But in Reluctant Runaway, we head for Albuquerque, New Mexico, to investigate stolen Native American artifacts and a missing young mother. Did post-partum depression drive the woman to run away, or was she snatched by a sinister cult? Runaway comes out next March. For Reluctant Smuggler, next August’s release, we go south of the border to Mexico, where Desi and Tony take on a drug lord involved in a deadly art for drugs scheme.
Each book explores a different genre of art. Burglar focuses on the European masters, Runaway looks at American and Native American artists, and Smuggler spotlights Hispanic art. Plus there is a spiritual thread distinct to each title. Burglar is a story illustration about learning to trust God’s higher knowledge, rather than our own wisdom and understanding. Runaway digs into generational consequences to our choices—for good or for ill—as well as how to discern truth in a deceitful world. Smuggler conveys the essential role of hope in the well-being of our human spirits.
Betsy: They all sound great! Can't wait to read the rest! Jill, when did you first feel the call of God on your life to write?
Jill: I can’t say I was consciously aware of a “call” when I penned—er, penciled—my first novel in sixth grade. It was a mystery with a ridiculous plot, but I finished. I’ve come to learn that actually completing a book, regardless of its quality, is a huge watershed in a writer’s life. Next, I tried my hand at writing articles, essays, short stories, and poetry, and had many things published. I even achieved a Bachelor’s degree in literature and creative writing, but I still can’t say I recognized a “call” to go with the gift. In fact, free-lance writing pretty much died out of my life for many years when my four children were little. But kids grow up, and so do their mothers—spiritually speaking—and that moment of answering a recognized call came about six years ago. I started writing again, and I haven’t stopped since. Now I’ve had the joy of holding my first published novel in my hands and sharing that moment with God alone. When my box of author copies for Burglar arrived, none of my family was at home, so it was just me and Jesus. We had a hoppin’ good time!
Betsy: I bet you did! So what advice or "lessons learned" can you share with aspiring authors today?
Jill: Finish what you start. Then go on to write something else—and finish it. Then finish the next one. Too many incomplete manuscripts hibernate in desk drawers. During the process of all this starting and finishing, let better writers than you look at your work and tear it up. Then go ahead and put it back together again, another step improved, and keep on writing. If this middle-aged mom from deep rural Minnesota can achieve her dream, no one should ever say never. With God, all things are possible. I write Mark 10:27 on every book I autograph.
Betsy: What was the most fun scene for you to write in Reluctant Burglar?
Jill: I had a blast with the interplay between Desi and her best friend Max, and the constant grinding of rough edges between Tony and his partner, and of course, the delicate dance of emotions and trust issues between Desi and Tony. But as far as any one scene goes, I think it’s the one where Desi returns to her hotel room after her dumpster episode, and Tony gets such a charge out of her Bugs Bunny pajamas and the hair that looks like she “dried it standing sideways in a gale force wind.” Then his amusement turns to despair when he realizes she’s still not going to come clean with him about the trouble she’s in. For those reading this interview who haven’t read the book, don’t get the wrong idea about a scene in a hotel room between unmarried protagonists. Other people are there. That whole room crackles with emotion. Everyone is at odds with each other.
Betsy: And it was a great scene! I can easily see this novel series becoming a movie one day! What are your thoughts on that idea?
Jill: The entire To Catch a Thief series is written cinematically. My primary intention is to offer readers good, clean, fun fiction, but I chose a cinematic approach because today’s movie-going society finds the style both appealing and palatable. For me, it’s also fun to write. Would I like to see Reluctant Burglar and the others as movies? Oh, yeah! Very appropriate that a move-buff heroine like Desi should have her own films. LOL. Whether this happens or not, God will arrange in His time. I’m at peace with that.
Betsy: What are some of your favorite books to read over and over?
Jill: The Bible (I suppose that one goes without saying.)
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and her Mark of the Lion series
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
Color the Sidewalk for Me by Brandilyn Collins
A book that I doubt I’ll have the time and endurance to tackle again, but which made a major impact in my youth: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Alyosha became something of a role model.
Betsy: All great choices! Can you share a little of your own personal faith journey with us?
Jill: I made a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at Bible camp when I was eleven years old. I wish I could say I stayed faithful to that commitment from then on. My upper high school and college years got rather rocky. Bad choices and rebellion sent my life careening in a direction that could have been fatal many times over. But God was faithful, especially when I wasn’t. His hand stopped the enemy’s plans again and again. I see that now. At the time, I was blind. He maneuvered the course of events so that I got out of the orbit of a certain group of friends. That same year at age 23, I returned my heart to him. I wish I could say that it stayed there. Again, things happened, and instead of continuing to trust God, bitterness made my heart cold. I felt like I had fallen asleep spiritually. But in the fullness of time, at the right moment, the Holy Spirit quickened me again. There is a sense now that enough of the arrogance of my youth has been cut away that I won’t again cease depending on Him. And He has given me the desires of my heart in so many ways. Sharing His love through a career as a novelist is only one of them.
Betsy: That's amazing. Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Jill!
Check out Jill Nelson's website at www.jillelizabethnelson.com
And hurry to bookstores TODAY to buy "The Reluctant Burglar", Book 1 in the To Catch a Thief series!