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.
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. http://www.gccrwa.com/silkensands/ 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.