Interviewing Jill Shalvis

26 Jan

It is with pleasure that I welcome author Jill Shalvis to Her Hands, My Hands.

A while back I dug a couple of Ms Shalvis older titles, Get a Clue and Long-lost Mom from the humongous TBR mountain range, and posted my reviews (here and here). That resulted in an exchange of emails with Ms Shalvis from which the following interview germinated.

Without more ado, here’s Ms Shalvis!

You have been a published author since 1996 and have built quite the respectable backlist during that time–all contemporaries, some with a more comedic slant and others with suspense, but no paranormals nor historicals. Have you ever been tempted to try your hand at either?

Actually, I wrote one paranormal for Brava called Out of This World, and it was great fun. But I have to say, for the moment, I’m enjoying writing the sexy contemporaries most. Instant Attraction really blew my skirt up, so I think I’ll stick with that for awhile.

How would you say your writing has changed in the past dozen years? (I.e., balance of dialogue vs description, showing vs telling, etc.)

I’d like to think my writing has greatly improved. So much that I tend to get hives when someone reviews an older book (as you know 😀 ). I don’t like to go there! I’m definitely in the zone now, stronger characters, faster dialogue and banter . . .

How has the process of writing changed in the same period of time? (I.e., more disciplined, more fluid, easier, more difficult)

Funny that you ask, because though I know I’ve improved, somehow the writing has gotten more challenging instead of simpler. Why that is, I have no idea other than my muse seems to enjoy messing with my head.

During the time you’ve been writing under contract, have you ever experienced the dreaded writer’s block? If so, could you tell us what’s the worst and how you got “unstuck” as it were?

I often get stuck. Either I’ve written myself straight into a corner, or I’ve eaten like crap and my brain won’t work, or I’m too overwhelmed with a storyline that isn’t working. Then I strap on a pair of skis or go for a hike with the dogs or watch the cat chase her tail or try to help a daughter or two with geometry . . . anything to get me out of my own little world. It always works like a charm.

You’ve said elsewhere that, as a writer, you are a pantser who would like to be a plotter. Could you elaborate on why? (I mean, if pantsing works for you… :cheeky :grin :: )

I guess the answer to this is that at heart, I’m an unorganized, undisciplined kid. It’s horribly discombobulating to try to write a 450 page book with those two character traits, let me tell you. So really, it’s an envy I have for all those writers who have it together enough to plan ahead, to have a full outline to follow. It’s got to be an easier way to go, and I would like an easier way. I really would.

In the Making Of… page in your website, you list the lyrics for “Whatever it Takes”, by Lifehouse, as the key to your insight into Cameron Wilder’s character. Does it often happen that way for you, that something unrelated suddenly makes a character click into focus? Could you give us other examples?

I don’t model my characters off real people, but I do suck in TV, movies, music . . . and oftentimes it’s one of those mediums that gives me something to gnaw on, and helps me define a character already in my head. (Like that song, which gave me exactly what I needed at that precise moment – a conflict for a main character, which I was missing).

Give us a snap shot of Wilder Adventures–the business that that Cameron, TJ and Stone Wilder run. What was your inspiration for it, a real business or entirely out of your imagination?

I made it up. It’s a place I’d like to visit, is all, an outdoor expedition/adventure company, with three wildly sexy men to pick from as an outdoor guide. Who wouldn’t want to go there? I set it in the mountains because I live in the Sierras and there is plenty of adventure to be found here. Figured I wouldn’t run out of things to write about. And hello, three sexy guys . . .

If there were no blurb nor cover for Instant Attraction, how would you entice someone to read it?

Well apart from the fact that it stars three wonderfully wild brothers who have a very real relationship in that they work hard, play even harder, and love each other through thick and thin and often show that love like real brothers do, which is to say not always politely, I would want the reader to know that this is the first book I’ve written that felt like a labor of love straight from the heart, from start to finish, and when I did write The End I didn’t want to let go.

Instant Gratification, Stone Wilder’s story, is the second title in the Wilder Brothers’ trilogy, and it’s scheduled to release in July. Do you have the title and release yet for TJ’s story?

I don’t have the title yet, but it will appear in April 2010, and I’m writing it Right This Very Minute.

Now for the impertinent questions! *evil cackle*

Good speller or are typos par de course for you?

Horrible speller. Horrible line editor. If I didn’t have spell check, my editor would probably kill me.

When immersed in a book, do you gobble it up in one sitting (or as close to that as life and family allow), or are you able to pace yourself?

Gobble. Hello, my name is Jill and I have no discipline or self-control. I open a bag of chips and have to eat the whole bag. Ditto a box of cookies. And especially ditto a book.

If you were an aspiring author today, would you do anything different than what you did back when you first sold?

I would maybe be a little more chill about the whole thing. You You have to be tough-skinned in this business. And perseverant. You have to be okay with people not liking your baby. You have to be able to write during lifes up and downs. But mostly you have to be happy with yourself and the stories you’re telling. That took me a damn long time to figure out.

Thank you so much, Ms Shalvis!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading Ms Shalvis’ answers as much as I did, and do remember to come back tomorrow to check out my review of Instant Attraction, Cameron Wilder’s story.

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