Jillian Stone was born a storyteller. A skill that got her into considerable trouble as a youth until she solved the problem by becoming an advertising creative. And the career did seem to suit her as she won many national ad awards including the Clio and the New York Art Director’s Club Gold. What more could she ask for? Create her own worlds? Become goddess of her own universe? Yes! So, she began to write fiction. Her Victorian Romantic Suspense novel An Affair with Mr. Kennedy won the 2010 RWA Golden Heart and sold to Pocket Books. Her sexy, supernatural Steampunk novel, The Seduction of Phaeton Black, won the 2010 Romance Through The Ages Erotica category and sold to Kensington Brava. Jillian lives inCalifornia and is currently working on the next adventure for both series.
See details below about a Giveaway of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy
Brenna Aubrey: You sold 2 trilogies within months of each other. Can you tell us a little about how that happened and what kind of change that brought about in your daily life?
Jillian Stone: In 2010 An Affair with Mr. Kennedy (The Yard Man) won the Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense. That same year, another manuscript The Seduction of Phaeton Black, won the 2010 Romance Through the Ages, Erotica category. After RWA Orlando, I signed with a terrific agent, Richard Curtis, and we ended up accepting an offer from Pocket Books for An Affair with Mr. Kennedy and Kensington’s offer for The Seduction of Phaeton Black. Both three-book contracts.
I have about ten more months to go to complete contracts with Pocket and Kensington. I write everyday and try for a minimum of a thousand words a day. I do worry about suffering a burnout. I can get really deranged when I have a deadline looming. I am also very protective of my muse. I come from advertising creative and know how tricky it is to mix the creative temperament with business. The only way to survive is to maintain your sense of humor. In my more irreverent moments I joke with my sister: “Yes, I am living the dream.”
Bren: You are a Golden Heart (among other contests) winner. How did contest participation play a part in your success? What are key things you learned from contest feedback?
JS: Contests played a huge role. I would have never connected with my agent or received the book offers without those contests. An Affair with Mr. Kennedy finaled 40% of the time in chapter contests, but it won the Golden Heart. The Seduction of Phaeton Black had only been entered in four contests before it won the Romance Through the Ages contest and got an offer from Audrey LaFehr (contest judge) Kensington
Bren: Your world-building is wonderfully real and detailed. Research, I’m sure is one factor. What resources do you rely upon most for research?
JS: I have a collection of research tomes that I am constantly adding to. Most of the research is on late nineteenth century London. I enjoy the darker, grittier aspects of London. Here’s a just few titles of my research books: MADAMS: Bawds and Brothel-keepers of London, Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld, Secret London, Underground London, BEDLAM: London and its Mad. Tip for historical writers: Subscribe to OED online and you get the historical thesaurus. Invaluable! And great for tossing in a bit period slang!
Bren: How about other aspects of world-building? How much do you rely upon before you even start writing?
JS: Before I write a word of dialogue I work on characters, a strong plotline and world building (order varies). I really enjoy the small details of world-building, weaving little nuggets and cool odd bits of historical fact into dialogue, character senses, internal/external daily life and atmosphere. The trick is to keep it all invisible to the reader (or close to it). I have discovered (by accident) it’s the small world-building details that create intimacy with the reader.
Bren: Do you “plot” or write by the seat of your pants? Can you give us a brief description of how you develop your novel from the ground up?
JS: I do quite a bit of plotting. I use sticky notes on my computer desk top. That translates into a five to eight page synopsis which I let percolate for awhile. I do a lot of tweaking to the synopsis adding plot twists, analyzing where the plot drags––maybe add some drivers. At some point I begin writing!
Bren: You have a background in marketing/design. How has that helped you in your development of a brand?
JS: An advertising background helped me make some important decisions right up front, like no multiple pen names. It’s hard enough to build name recognition for one author brand, let alone have two names to contend with. Exception: If you want to write both erotica and YA/Inspirational!
Bren: Speaking of brand… you have a little bit of a hurdle in that you write both straight Victorian historical and also Steampunk. How do you differentiate between your works and manage your brand?
JS: Since both series are set in late Victorian London, my strategy is not to differentiate the two subgenres but to let them compliment each other. Actually, there is a bit of edgy Steampunk in The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. The novels are not pure, straight historical––exactly. This gets me into a little trouble with strict historical reviewers who have enjoyed Mr. Kennedy (so far) but don’t quite get my Victorian retro James Bond flair! As more books release, I’m hoping readers/reviewer will begin to understand the tone a little better.
Bren: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you could give to a currently unpublished author?
JS: Write the story that burns inside you!
Bren: What’s next for you after your two trilogies are completed? Or am I jumping the gun by asking you that !
JS: I have a Miss Pandora’s Box-full of story ideas that I plan to unleash on the world…muah ha ha!
Could the crime of the century lead to the love of a lifetime?
London, 1887: Part stoic gentleman, part fearless Yard man, Zeno “Zak” Kennedy is an enigma of the first order. For years, the memory of a deadly bombing at King’s Cross has haunted the brilliant Scotland Yard detective. His investigation has zeroed in on a ring of aristocratic rebels whose bloody campaign for Irish revolution is terrorizing the city. When he discovers one of the treacherous lords is acquainted with his free-spirited new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud, his inquiry pulls him unexpectedly close to the heart of the conspiracy and into the arms of a most intriguing lady.
And Cassie is no Victorian prude. An Impressionist painter with very modern ideas about life and love, she is eager for a romantic escapade that is daring and discreet. She sets her sights on her dour but handsome landlord, but after she learns their meeting was not purely accidental, she hardly has a chance to forgive her lover before their passionate affair catapults them both into a perilous adventure.
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