Saturday, August 27, 2011

Adventures with an International Flair: Jillian Chantal

Jillian Chantal is both a lawyer and a writer of romantic fiction (also, she's a super cool lady).   Most often she can be found either at her keyboard banging out words, working on a legal issue or just surfing the web and calling it research.  Her other guilty pleasure is her one-sided love affair with the actor Alan Rickman. She owns all his movies and would probably give away her cat for a chance to meet him (oh Snape, you handsome devil, you). 
Jillian is a member of the Gulf Coast RWA chapter. Her third novel, Redemption for the Devil, was released by Desert Breeze Publishing in July 2011. She graciously agreed to sit down and tell us a little about it.


In Redemption for the Devil, your heroine Mary Margaret Kincade undergoes a dramatic career change before being blind-sided by a man who is the opposite of everything she thought she needed/wanted.  Tell us about her journey.

Peg’s journey is two part, really. One is a physical journey that starts with her accepting the fact that her father is lost at sea and probably never coming home. She decides to make a new life for herself as she can’t bear staying in Cork where her odious cousin has taken over the family business as well as the home she’s always known. She musters her courage and sets off on a voyage first to England and then across the ocean. 

The second part of her journey is a journey of emotion/growth as a person. Peg always thought she’d live in her hometown of Cork, but when she leaves the safety of her known environment, she has to accept lots of new people with different beliefs into her life. She makes friends with a girl from Southampton who is a Protestant and a bit of a wild child. Peg finds that she can love her friend anyway despite her own strict Catholic upbringing and her belief that pre-marital sex is not acceptable. Peg eventually finds that she has grown and changed in her own beliefs as well as her ability to accept people who are not the same as her and don’t necessarily have the same moral code as she does.

Your hero, Liam Cormac, a member of the Irish Republican Army, is torn between duty and his heart.  How does he handle struggling with this conflict?

I don’t want to give away any plot points but suffice it to say he has a lot of angst. He’s been beating himself up for years over an incident that happened when he was a teen that hardened his heart. This story is about that frozen heart. Not only is Peg’s dad lost in the Arctic ocean, she meets a man who’s heart is as hard and cold as an iceberg. Her journey ties into both these men and what she has learned from one and will learn from the other.

Your story is set in the 1920s.  What were some of the fun things you gleaned from your research that you worked into Redemption for the Devil?

I really didn’t do new research for this story other than to check dates and historical detail on buildings. I love this era of history and have Irish/English ancestry so I’ve always been interested in the facts and fashions of the time period. The story was quite easy to write since I had all this info already in my head. Seances were all the rage in the late 1800s and early 1900s so I really wanted to work that in. 

One funny thing I did was write the story with Liam as the  bartender and Peg as the lounge singer. They crossed the ocean and I’m writing merrily along, sometimes even humming. Then, the big moment: I’ll never forget my thought (and I won’t type it verbatim as it was not a nice word) when I pulled the Mauretania into port in New York City. It was along the lines of, “Oh, pickle juice, the Volstead Act. Now what?”

The Volstead Act is Prohibition- the Eighteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. DUH. No liquor sales by law. What was I going to do with a bartender and lounge singer? My knowledge of the era surfaced from my little pea brain and thus, I was not going to be embarrassed and hauled off by the historical police. I was gonna solve this issue, by golly and I did. I decided to send Peg to a speakeasy! Chicago! Gangsters!

I wiped my brow in relief and kept on going with the story.

Describe your writing process.   

Usually the first thing I get is the hero’s name. Then the idea of the basic story comes. I make a sound track of songs that I think relate to where I think the story is going. I’m a complete pantser and have written many manuscripts with a one sentence premise. 

Once I have the soundtrack, I immerse myself in the songs. I play them in the car and at my desk. Then I start to write. I usually get five to six chapters in and then the ending comes to me and I’ll write the last two chapters. Then I go back and weave it together in the middle. 

What is the best writing advice you received?

Don’t try to use someone else’s process. I did try to change my process twice when friends told me how they write. I was stymied and all the joy was sucked out of the process for me. I told my friend, Cynthia Eden, about the new process making me freeze up and have no creativity and she looked at me and said, “then stop.”

I looked at her, light dawning and said, “I can do that?” LOL!

What is the worst writing advice you received?

That whole rule about not using adverbs and gerunds. Sometimes, they have to be used. People talk that way and you have to use them in dialogue and sometimes even in the narrative. (Gasp) They are parts of the English language for a reason.

What are you currently reading?

I’m a reviewer for the Season for Romance and I’m reading an ARC of A Vampire Christmas Carol; Ebenezer Scrooge, Vampire Slayer. It’s pretty good. The author has a good grasp of Dickens’ voice.

Are there any writing conferences in 2012 that you would recommend, and why?

The Silken Sands Conference sponsored by the Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA is my chapter’s conference and I somehow got roped into, oops, I mean nominated for, chairman. We have an exciting line up of editors and agents as well as some cool workshops. And besides, who doesn’t love the beach? It’s in Pensacola and is March 16-18, 2012. Registration is open now.  Another reason to come is that the winners of your very own chapters’ contest will be announced at ours. FUN!

Thanks for having me Heather. It was fun even though you asked me some tough questions there at the beginning. I hope to see a bunch of you at the conference.

You can find Jillian at her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Be sure to register for the Silken Sands Conference so you can meet her in person!

Enjoy this trailer for Redemption for the Devil. 


Arabella Stokes said...

What a great story! And it's time that the early 20th century got a little love from romance writers - it's such a fascinating period.
Can't wait for Silken Sands, too. You're doing a fabulous job, and it's gonna be great!

Jillian said...

Thanks for having me here, Romance Magicians. So excited to have been asked.

Thanks Arabella. I love the early 20th century.

Micki Gibson said...

Fantastic advice about finding your own writing process. And I'm really excited about Silken Sands too.

Heather said...

I am still struggling to find my writing process. Right now it involves playing a lot of Bejeweled Blitz and checking my email.

I attended the Silken Sands conference in 2010, and had a great time. Everyone is so friendly, the programming was excellent, and the venue couldn't be any better. When you consider the price for the conference, it is the best deal I've seen!

mtc said...

Terrific interview! Love "hearing" about your writing process. And the book is AWESOME!!! So proud of you!

Lavada Dee said...

Great interview. Your writing process is working well for you, great stories and you're getting them written even with a really REALLY busy life.

Jillian said...

Thanks Micki. Finding your own process is vital.

Heather, I get distracted too easily as well we need to work on that. Lol. And it was great becoming friends at the last Silken. Sands

Mtc. Thanks for thinking the interview was good and most of all for loving the book.

Lavada. Thanks. You're right. It does work for me. Someone else make think I'm nuts but that is okay, too. Lol.

StephB said...

Jillian, I enjoyed Redemption for the Devil very much. LOL!! About finding a speakeasy for Peg to visit. Well done, my friend. I think once you've tapped into basic experiences, you make them play out against any landscape as long as you do a little research.

My writing process is somewhat similiar. I like to have a soundtrack or that "one" song that embodies the couple. It really sets a mood for me in my head. Casting the characters, too another in the process for me.

Thanks for sharing. Great interview!

Jillian said...

Steph- thanks for stopping by, I'm glad you liked the book. I agree about tapping experiences. The era doesn't really matter. People are the same no matter the age they live in.

I also cast my characters. Liam was a young Alan Rickman and Peg was a young Maureen O'Hara. I like to picture them in my mind.

Lexi said...

I had the same experience, Jillian. Had to find my own process and then own it, not get sidetracked by the way others approach writing. I like that you absorb music as part of your process. Interesting!

Laurie Ryan said...

Ran right up against prohibition, eh? Nice work-around. And that's a wonderful cover.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Jillian - I've popped over from British Romance Fiction. Really enjoyed your interview and period of your book. And, yes, we definitely need to find our own best writing method and stick to it!

Jillian said...

Lexi- it's easy to think we're doing it "wrong" when others tell us their methods, right? We have to avoid that for sure.

Laurie- Yep, I slammed right into that wall of no liquor. It was a moment of panic, but I got over it. LOL!

Rosemary- thanks for popping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. The first two questions were kickers but it got easier after that-I was afraid to give away too much of the story. As to our processes, I agree, we have to finds what works and stick with it. Experimenting is not so good.

Cynthia Eden said...

Loved the interview! :)

Jillian said...

That would be find not finds on that last comment. Autocorrect is a pain! People will be thinking I can't write. LOL!

Jillian said...

Thanks, Cynthia. You see I quoted you, of course. That was some great advice. 2 words- "So stop" You're succinct, for sure. Almost Yoda-like. Love ya!

Carla Swafford said...

Great interview, Heather and Jillian.

Jillian said...

Thanks Carla and thanks for having me.

Ciara said...

Everyone's process is so different. I can't believe you start with the hero's name. I'm jealous. I just wrote an entire book with 'Hero' as a placeholder. LOL

Jillian said...

Ciara- I could never write a book with an unknown hero's name. I'd be lost and floundering. I admire that you can do it the way you do.

Jillian said...

Ciara- I could never write a book with an unknown hero's name. I'd be lost and floundering. I admire that you can do it the way you do.