Yes, I'm back and bringing with me another spotlight interview. Today, I have the pleasure of spotlighting not only a great author but also a client and friend. :)
Jill Elizabeth Nelson's debut novel, Reluctant Burglar, released in September 2006, and received a Top Pick ranking in Romantic Times magazine, as well as many other rave reviews. Reluctant Runaway, book two in the To Catch a Thief series of romantic suspense, released on March 20, 2007. The third novel in the series, Reluctant Smuggler, is scheduled for a January 2008 release. Jill speaks to general audiences about international art theft, to readers groups about her novels and the Christian fiction market, and to writers on craft. She has appeared at book signings all over Minnesota, in Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Texas. Her articles, essays, and book reviews have been published in print and on-line magazines, as well as book anthologies. Jill and her husband Doug enjoy the quiet pace of life in rural Minnesota, where they love to go camping and horseback riding with their four grown children and extended family members. For book excerpts, a monthly contest, and a fun video trailer of Reluctant Runaway, check out Jill's web site at http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com.
1. This is book #2 in your To Catch a Thief series, continuing the story of Tony and Desi. This time you're delving into the world of stolen Indian artifacts and tribal secrets. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
Each To Catch a Thief book has an art theme. In Reluctant Burglar, it was the European masters. In the sequel, it followed naturally to go with American art, and more specifically, Native American art. Plus, I'm a Tony Hillerman fan. He writes nail-biting mysteries involving Navaho tribal culture and tribal police, so I knew there was rich material available in the New Mexico-Arizona area. Not wanting to imitate Hillerman, however, I looked for a different angle. When I ran across the bizarre speculation about the ancient Anasazi (ancestors of the Pueblo Indians), I knew I had my unique twist for Reluctant Runaway.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Tony and Desi? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
I tend to write characters I wish I was like, rather than characters I am like. Desi is athletic and outspoken. I'm more quiet and sedentary. She's the kind of person who delivers the sassy one-liners I only think up after the situation has passed. Sometimes that's frustrating; other times I'm glad I was a doofus and didn't make a smart aleck of myself.
However, Des and I are both highly organized and task-oriented personalities. I'm learning to hang loose a little more, instead of stressing myself out to be perfect and meet everyone's expectations (primarily my own). In that sense, I've joked with friends that I'm a "recovering Desiree."
She and I both love classic movies, but she's watched some I've never seen. I had to go out and buy or rent a few just to catch up with her!
3. What themes exist in Reluctant Runaway that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
My heart originally was in telling a story about the universal need to belong, and that theme does come through in Runaway. A theme that surprised me, and in fact almost overshadows the belonging theme, is the affect of past generations on the current one. The choices of our ancestors, for good or ill, do affect us today. In order to cut off the evil influence of past wrong turns, we sometimes have to make difficult and sacrificial decisions to change course. The reward is to see a positive impact on the next generation.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
I especially enjoyed writing Indian culture to the best of my ability. I hope those who live the culture might find something true to life in it.
Pulling all of my plot threads together at the end had me gnashing my teeth at times, but I'm grateful to awesome editorial input for helping bring it all together and make sense. A grand sort of sense, I hope, as the reader carries away some thought-provoking nuggets of truth to apply to their own life.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
Reluctant Smuggler, the third book in the To Catch a Thief series, goes south of the border to explore Hispanic art and the black market traffic in antiquities unearthed at archeological digs. Gang culture, the slave trade in women kidnapped for prostitution, and "art for drugs" deals all feature in a plot that keep Desi and Tony hot-footing from one lethal situation to the next. Smuggler releases in January 2008.
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Thank you, Jill, for being in the spotlight today. Readers, don't forget to comment for your chance at a free copy of this book. And word has it that there is a scene in the book that was inspired by my very own Tiki-bird slippers. LOL! You don't want to miss this one. :)