If you weren’t an author, what else would you see yourself doing as a career?
Well, I haven’t always been an author. I was a Textiles, Clothing and Design major in college and my career before writing was as a buyer or manufacturer’s rep for things like housewares, gifts, women’s clothing, and gourmet foods. I worked lots of retail jobs from sales associate to managers. As my husband moved up in his career, his jobs were less flexible and didn’t allow him to help me manage our kids, so we decided I’d stay at home and run our household. It was during that time that I wrote That Boy.
Do you get a lot of writers block, and if so, how do you deal with it?
Honestly, no. I may get stuck on a certain scene, but I just set it aside and work on another part. By not trying to force it, I find my solutions come naturally. I also find that even if I step away from whatever I might be stuck on, my mind is still working it out. Scenes often come in way of dreams for me.
How do you write? Does it have to be total silence or can you write in total chaos?
It depends on how persistent the chaos is. Usually, if I’m interrupted, it’s from a family member or just things going on around me. I can write then because they sort of cease to exist when I’m into a scene. Other times, I know it’s best to just close my computer and go back to it when I can concentrate. Sometimes scene ideas come to me in the midst of chaos. In songs I hear. In something I see or observe. From dreams. When inspiration strikes, I write notes into my phone and then email them to myself. So to answer your question, I can write about anywhere. I just do it in different ways. When I’m editing and fine tuning, I do have to fully concentrate for that.
How does writing as a teenager/ young adult impact your life in the real world? Do you find yourself so involved in the characters that it helps or hinders your real life relationships?
I’d say the fact that I have two teenagers keeps me current on what real world teens are experiencing. I have never used specific story lines from their lives, but I did use a lot of the emotions I observed and tried to transfer those to my characters. Particularly ones involving boys, relationships, love, and sex.
What is the best things and worst things about moving away from Texas?
Florida is warmer and the gulf coast is gorgeous. Worst thing is that it takes way longer to fly places and I’m further from my kids.
How long did it take you to write your first book? And after it was completed how did you go about getting it published?
I worked sporadically on That Boy for about six years before I self-published it. As for how I went about it. I tried to get an agent. I’m not a form/rule follower, so sending queries and all that stuff you need to do was not my strong suit. I got lots of well-deserved rejections based on those things. So I put it aside and started working on what happens to the characters next. (Which became part of That Wedding) My husband came home one day and handed me a copy of The Wall Street Journal, which had an article about Amanda Hocking’s self publishing success, and he said that I should do it myself. If nothing else, to prove to my children that I could finish a project that started. So I hired an editor, a formatter, a website designer, and did it. That was May 2011. Thirty-six people bought the e-book in the first three months. I was thrilled that people I didn’t know were buying it — because I didn’t tell anyone that I published it. So I decided to actually try to market it, got a blog, on goodreads, etc. And the rest is a lot of long hours. I’ve never worked so many hours in my life, but I’ve also never got so much fulfillment out of a job.
What influenced you to be come a writer? If your books make it to TV, could see yourself writing your own scripts? Why did you choose to do this and not go down a different path? If you do see yourself doing something else, what would it be?
I have never really written an actual script, so I think I would leave that to the experts. I hope if they ever make a TV series or movie I am able to negotiate some control over all of that. I don’t see myself doing anything else.
Will you venture out to any other genres?
Well, I already have. The continuation of The Keatyn Chronicles and Vegas Love are contemporary romance. The That Boy series is new adult romance.
Here’s my question and it’s an honest one. I know that authors don’t make a lot of money (unless you strike gold like JK Rowling). How do you balance your generosity with actually making a living? You are one of the MOST giving authors that I have ever met. I would bet money that you give all of your profits back to us. And you don’t actually have to answer this…it’s a nosy question but I am just proving my point. LOL.
First of all, thank you. I’ve always tried to give back. Through That Boy book sales, I’ve donated over $20,000 to my alma mater, my sorority, and the Make-A-Wish foundation. I feel blessed to be able to do something that I love and earn money doing it. So giving back is a big deal to me. And recording the songs for Twisted Dreams was something I did to specifically give back to the readers of the Keatyn Chronicles. My husband thought it was a venture that would have a bad return on investment, and he was right, but I’m still glad I did it. And as far as earning a living, I just keep trying to get my name out there and hope something eventually sticks. Someday, I hope to have enough sales of a book to hit the NYTBS List. That would mean a lot to me but, in the meantime, I’m having fun.
What started your interest in writing? Is literature something you loved as a kid or developed with age?
I’ve always made up stories, songs, and art. When I was in middle school, I wrote a musical set to Beach Boys music which I also acted out to entertain myself. I always checked out as many books from the library as they would allow me to and as an adult I could easily read a book a day. I didn’t do that well in English, mostly because they made us write about stuff I didn’t care about, so being a writer was something I never considered until later in life.
What inspired you to write That Boy? Are the characters and their relationships based on some one in your life or that you know?
I had a series of three dreams about the same characters that I felt compelled to write down. Those scenes became the core of the story.
How do you do it all, between writing, your family, us crazy ladies, you seem to keep everything pretty well balanced.
I work really long hours.
How does your family feel about all us fan always begging you for more books and your time?
My family is extremely supportive. My kids are also both in college and not living at home, so I have more free time than ever to spend on my writing. My husband deals with financial part of my business and both of my kids work with me as well.
How do you form a book/series from a starting idea without having any clue as to how it will end or if you do know how it will end how do you fill in the content between start and finish?
I always know how it ends and usually major scenes in the middle.
I’m thinking about writing a book, how do I do it? or I’ve written a book and want to sell it to a publisher, how do I do it? or I’ve written a book and want to self publish, how do I do it? What do I need to know?
You need to know that being an author is a lot of work, no matter what path you choose. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You should write because you love it and create stories you are proud of, because once you release it to the world it will be subject to critique and you have to be able to deal with the good, the bad, and the just plain mean. The publishing industry is quickly changing and what I did when I started isn’t what necessarily works now. For those thinking about writing, I’d highly recommend structure and craft books by James Scott Bell. For those wanting to self publish, I’d recommend The Naked Truth About Self Publishing by a group of authors who I greatly admire.
I have an idea for a novel/have written a novel. Can Jillian help me write it/beta read it/edit it/tell me what she thinks?
If you have a great idea, you should write it yourself and reap the reward. Please don’t send any unpublished work or story ideas as they will immediately be deleted and Jillian will never see them.
What is something different you are interested in working on after the Keatyn Chronicles and That Boy series?
I have a whole file full of stories and ideas of things that I want to write. Some spinoffs. Some completely new characters. And some completely crazy ideas.
Will you be doing any book tours/signings anytime soon?
I have done over forty book signings in the last few years. You can always find out where I will be under the Meet Me tab on my website here.
When is your next book release?
I released a very complicated and detailed seven book series in two years. I put myself on extremely tight deadlines and worked many hours to meet those deadlines. Going forward, I won’t be announcing release dates until I have the book written and ready to go to the editor. I always post my future projects on the Home page of my website and let my newsletter subscribers know.
About The Keatyn Chronicles:
Where did you come up with the name Keatyn?
My daughter will never again allow me to see her list of future baby names. So you can thank her for the name Keatyn.
Still dying to know what the graduating class gave as their gift to Stockton.
The answer to this is in Book 9: Power.
Was any part of KC loosely based on your teen years?
Is each character in the series, for example Keatyn, Riley, Aiden, Vanessa based upon anyone in your life or anyone in general?
The short answer is no. But I think that you pull personality traits from yourself and others then they get all mixed up in the characters you write.
Why did you write about a stalker? Did you know that’s where you wanted your book to go when you started it? (I’m not a writer, so I wasn’t sure if you did a story board first.)
When I first started working on the series, I had a pretty firm grasp on K’s personality. I knew I wanted her to be taken out of her normal world and plunked down at an East coast boarding school. Sort of a high school version of Legally Blonde. Even though she was smart and beautiful, it didn’t mean fitting in would be easy. I originally thought I would have her go to school to sort of escape the pressures of being Abby’s daughter. But I knew that a girl like her would face a tough time with someone like Whitney and be like, Screw it. I’m going to France. There had to be a reason to make her stay. The stalker was that reason. It also served to be the pressure that forced her growth. The Keatyn you met in Stalk Me was a lot different than the Keatyn in Get Me.
Was there any really life experience put into the making of Keatyn?
Keatyn and I share a love of fashion. We both tried to script our lives. As for real life experience, I do pull emotions from times in my own life when I got my heart broken, when I was friend-zoned by my best guy friend, when a girl was mean to me, when I was the mean person, when my friends all were mad at me, when you kissed a boy I shouldn’t have. I think that’s why Keatyn is relatable. She faces many of the same situations we all do/did in our teen years.
What was your favorite part about creating the Keatyn Chronicles?
The characters. I really am attached to them. Almost to the point that I talk about them like they are real. When I’m shopping, I’m like, Oh, this is a Keatyn outfit.
How in the hell did you write Get Me in such a short time frame? I saw you mid July and you still had a long way to go.
I had been writing each future book as I was writing the current book. Before I ever released Stalk Me, I had major scenes written for each book as well as solid character profiles, plots, and story and character arcs. When I “started” the next book, it usually had most of the major scenes written and lots of word count. But in the case of that, I worked 18 hour days almost every day and many sleepless nights to get it finished on schedule.
Is the inspiration for the Keatyn Chronicles from someone you know or just your wonderful imagination? How did you come up with Keatyn as a character, what influenced you?
I’d say I was influenced by a lot of things. My love of reality TV, gossip magazines, celebrity red carpets, 80’s movies, poetry, and, of course, fairytales.
What made you come up with the idea of wishing on the moon?
I don’t know what everyone else did, but as a teen I always planned to be spontaneous. I would stand in front of the mirror and act out what I would say if a boy said this to me, or that. Or what I would say or do so he might notice me. Basically, I tried to script my life. So, I guess in that way, Keatyn and I were alike. Scripting your life also includes hoping, wishing, and praying to anything that might work. Keatyn was upset, the moon was there, so she talked to it. Wished on it. Hoped for something better.
What made you decide Brooklyn’s fate?
Although it was a shock to all of you, I always knew as I was writing his story what his fate was. I felt like it fit his character. And after losing a close family friend in a motorcycle accident as I was writing the book, I was more determined than ever to follow my original plan and not succumb to what I thought readers might prefer. It happens in real life. Sadly.
About my characters:
Which one of your boys is the most fun to write?
It varies. Although I tend to love to write cocky, confident guys.
When do I get to see my Phillip again??!! I miss JJ and the gang.
You will get to see them in That Baby. But be careful for what you wish for.
Who is your favorite character out of all the books you wrote? (Who is your favorite boy character from the Keatyn Chronicles?)
I don’t really have a favorite. I love them all. But I’d say that Keatyn and Jadyn will always be special because I’ve been in their heads for so long.
If you could be a character in any of your books, who would you be?
I think the fun thing about being a writer is I can be a different person whenever I feel like it. So I wouldn’t choose one. But it would be fun to shop like Keatyn for a few days.
How do you come up with some many ideas for your books, that keep your readers hooked?
Saying from my imagination and dreams sounds like a lame answer, but that’s where my ideas come from. Ideas usually start out as a scene with a few characters and grow from there. Putting a series together for me is liking putting together a puzzle. As for what keeps my readers hooked, I’m not sure. I try to write everyday life, friends, characters you can relate to, situations we’ve all been in. Then add some fantasy to it.
How do you come up with characters and ideas. You have a lot if unique romantic gestures. What sparked those? Where did those ideas come from?
They come from the storylines and sort of happen as I’m writing.
What happened to Captive Films?
Originally, I spun Captive Films off as a separate series because the characters are older and the content much more mature. And even though readers were asking for more Keatyn, many didn’t realize that there was a series that continued the story. So after trying to do it in a fun serial version (and failing) I decided to bring those stories back where they belonged. As single books within the Keatyn Chronicles. So if you read Captive Films: Season One, that is now Fame: Book 8. Captive Films: Season Two is now Power: Book 9. The series will continue through book 12 with Money, Sex, and Power.
I thought there were only 6 books in The Keatyn Chronicles? What happened?
There were always seven books in the first group of books where Keatyn is a teenager. But because Adore Me was originally brought out as book 4.5, it messed things up. Many vendors don’t show .5 books in series listings and Adore Me is an integral part of the series, so Adore Me was changed to book 5; Hate Me, book 6; and Get Me, book 7.
Will there be more books about the Crawford family from Vegas Love?