Interview with Jill James

Published 2013-08-21.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy in writing is being in what I call "The Zone." That is when you look up from your computer and hours have passed and you see pages of a book that you don't even remember writing and you read the words and you can't believe they came from you. It's like magic. That's when I know something special has passed between me and the story. I want that for the reader. To look up after hours of reading and to be surprised that they are home, to feel like they returned from a journey.
When did you first start writing?
In the fifth grade, I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Katherine Whitaker. She loved creative writing. Each week we had to write a story based on a title she gave us. I don't remember them all, but I do remember The Runaway Chevrolet and The Peanut Butter Airplane. Everyone else complained that we had to write two WHOLE pages of a story. I worried that the story I wanted to write wouldn't fit in two pages, and most of the time I was right.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Minus the short stories in grade school, the first complete novel I wrote was Books and Dreams about a heroine who wants to own her own used book store (must have been channeling myself. LOL) and a hero who wants to get away from the big city and his family and open his own law office. Unfortunately, they both want the same building. That story is hiding among the dust bunnies of my hard drive. :)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading. I learned to read at 2 1/2 years old and I haven't stopped since. I will read 2-3 books a week, more if I'm between books and actually sometimes more as some writers are putting out shorter books, nice reads to finish in a few hours or so.
Who are your favorite authors?
Some of my favorites are Allison Brennan, Roxanne St. Claire, Chelsea Cain, Tess Gerritsen, James Rollins, Rick Mofina, Robin Cook, Angie Fox, Carrie Ryan, J.A. Konrath, Blake Crouch. Also, the biggies of romance; Jennifer Blake, Shirlee Busbee, Bertrice Small, and Jude Devereax.
Do you remember the first romance you ever read, and its impact on you?
For my 13th birthday, my mom got me a romance novel and a bottle of perfume from Avon (the cosmetic people, not the publisher). The book and the perfume was Lily of the Valley. The perfume is long gone, but I still have the little romance book. When I read that, I knew that's what I wanted to write. I wanted to write stories with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
The internet. I'm a member of many groups, I love Facebook and Twitter, and I follow several blogs. If I spot the same book two or three times in a day or two, I'll buy it. I love covers first, then the blurb. I don't read samples because I'm a writer's best friend: if I read a page or two, I'm buying the book. I'm like curiosity and the cat, I can't not know what happens and how it ends. But I will never read the last page first. Big no-no! I like surprises!
What do you read for pleasure?
In reading, I'm all over the map; romance, thrillers, adventure, horror, science fiction, urban fantasy, and anything else that strikes the right cord when I see it. Romance is my first love, but I'll read almost anything at least once. As a kid, I would read the cereal box at breakfast to have something to read while I ate. LOL
How do you approach cover design?
Covers are very important. They are the first thing a reader sees. The cover has to convey what you will find inside. I work with a wonderful artist, Elaina Lee. I write up a short blurb about the book, tell her who the characters are, and the general feel I want to convey. I know lots of Indie authors do their own covers, but I knew upfront that graphic design was not my forte. I'm more than willing to let the artist do her job and to reap the benefits of her expertise.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has sent my stories to places I didn't even know existed. When I started out I just knew about Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Smashwords has made it possible for my books to be all around the world. Every month I get sales that I have to look up the country code to see where I've sold. I have sales in Singapore and The Netherlands. How cool is that?!!
What's the story behind your latest book?
I've been on a reading rampage for the past 18 months of seeking out every zombie book I can find. Thank goodness for Indie authors because they've written a lot of zombie books lately. Love in the Time of Zombies is my attempt at a romantic horror novel. Be warned there is a romance in this post-apocalyptic tale and be warned that there are ooey-gooey zombie parts in this romance novel. Zombie hunting isn't for everyone, but Emily Gray will do what it takes to save the world; one kill at a time. Throw in poetry-writing, truck driver Seth Ripley and who says you can't find true love at the end of the world?
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Latest books by This Author

Zombies in the Grass
Series: Time of Zombies. Pre-release—available March 9, 2021. Price: $2.99 USD. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
A drummer in a band before the zombie apocalypse, Danny Lopez now leads a band of runaway children in the Sierra foothills. Army captain Willa Zara has always followed orders. Will conscripting children be one order too many? When danger surrounds them on all sides, will their love be enough in the time of zombies? Zombies in the Grass is book 4 in the Time of Zombies series.
Time of Zombies Books 1-3
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 182,570. Language: English. Published: October 6, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Time of Zombies is the 3 full-length novels of the Time of Zombies series. Love in the Time of Zombies is Emily and Seth's story. The Zombie Hunter's Wife is Michelle and Teddy's story. A Time to Kill Zombies is Lila and Jack's story. In the ZA, survival is not enough. Love is as important as food, water, and shelter.
Ghostly Intentions
Series: Ghost Releasers, Inc.. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 51,710. Language: English. Published: June 5, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Megan Trent misses her dead husband, but he returns as a sexy ghost visitor every night. When events turn dark, she knows she’s can't stop the evil on her own. Jack O’Malley of Ghost Releasers, Inc. is her only hope. Sparks fly from the moment they meet, but Jack won't compete with a ghost. After her dead husband’s release, a dark power remains. Jack and Megan fight to save their lives and love.
A Time to Kill Zombies
Series: Time of Zombies. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 71,840. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
No law enforcement. No volunteer search parties. No AMBER alerts. How do you find a kidnapped child in the zombie apocalypse? Jack and Lila will risk it all, their lives and their love, to find their daughter in the time of zombies. Lies kept them apart. The truth will save them all. urban fantasy/romance/zompoc
The Zombie Hunter's Wife
Series: Time of Zombies. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 52,720. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
Michelle Greggs lost it all the day the zombies rose. Now she huddles behind cement walls, afraid to live life. Teddy Ridgewood's live for today attitude irks her, even while she can't deny the yearnings he causes in her, to live and to love. When a twisted preacher lusts after Michelle, Teddy will help her find the inner strength he knows she has to fight the evil and the undead.
Love in the Time of Zombies
Series: Time of Zombies. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 58,170. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
First influenza, then virus Z decimated the Earth's population. Now, Emily Gray is just trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. When she meets and falls for Seth Ripley she learns that just surviving isn’t enough if you don’t have someone to share the danger, your life, and your love.
The Reluctant Bride
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 18,210. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
Claire Woods and Jimmy Tyler were high-school sweethearts with a marriage proposal on prom night. Ten years later and they are no closer to the altar than that far away romantic night, thanks to Claire’s family. Traits run in families, divorce runs in Claire’s own. Jimmy Tyler will need help to get this reluctant bride to the altar. With family and friends they just might make it happen.
The Christmas Con
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 8,670. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
Robin Cappington is a reformed jewel thief, stealing from the thieves to return to the owners. She needs Ian Marr for a job. One catch; he’s the man who broke her heart and got her dad sent to prison. Forced to work together to steal back The Christmas Rose may be just what Santa had in mind for the two ex-lovers.
The Lake Willowbee Series
Series: The Lake Willowbee Books, Books 1 - 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 55,530. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
The Lake Willowbee Series Books 1-3 Divorce, Interrupted - Todd and Lisa's story Dare To Trust - Brady and Evie's story Defend My Love - Daniel and Megan's story All stories originally published as single eBooks.
Defend My Love
Series: The Lake Willowbee Books, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,140. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
Megan Kirby thought all she wanted was her freedom. Freedom to leave prison behind. Freedom to be the wife and mother she had been denied up to now. Daniel Kirby wanted his sweet, naïve wife back. Four years of prison took all that away. But, Megan wants the world to know of her innocence and for someone else to pay for her lost years.
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