MLC: Do you remember the first mystery you ever read? If so, what was it, and what pulled you into it?
AUTHOR: It was Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. I was in high school and I loved it. Innately curious, I enjoyed how well the plot led me through a labyrinth of clues as Christie’s characters are marooned on an island and murdered one by one. It pulled me in and I wanted more.
MLC: When did you first decide you wanted to write a mystery, and what led you to that decision?
AUTHOR: I enjoyed reading the genre but I felt I often couldn’t relate to some of the characters of my favorite books. I wanted to read about people closely related to the environment I knew and understood. I’m the product of a multi-cultural city (New York City) and I wanted to show that in my novel.
MLC: Do you write in any other genres? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: Although I enjoy many genres, I write mostly mysteries. Surprisingly, I don’t enjoy writing mysteries in shorter formats. I prefer a more contemporary and personal style of writing in short stories or novellas.
MLC: Which comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
AUTHOR: Characters and then plot. People fascinate me and why they do the things, they do. Since, I’m writing a series, my characters are already established, so I put them into plots that bring out different aspects of their personalities.
MLC: When you are all wrapped up in the story, do you feel like you could solve the crime, or maybe even solve all the world’s mysteries?
AUTHOR: Not really. Maybe really small mysteries, like where I left my car keys. However, I did help a friend track down her young wayward cousin in Jersey. All the things I learned about investigation that I use for my books helped me. You’d be surprise how easy it is to track down a phone number. I felt pretty competent. As for the world’s mysteries, I’d rather leave that to the experts.
MLC: Do you write every day, or what kind of a schedule do you have? Do you write fulltime, or do you have a “day job”?
AUTHOR: I would love to write eight hours a day, but I do have a busy job. At the minimum, I try to write two hours a day and three to four hours on the weekend. If I’m in the last draft of my book, I tend to increase the amount of hours I work.
MLC: Other than your writing, what do you enjoy doing? What is the most important thing to you in your day-to-day life?
AUTHOR: One of the most important things for me in my day-to-day life is connecting with people, my family, taking in experiences and writing about it. I have hobbies and activities that keep me busy like jewelry making, crafts, swimming and the theatre.
MLC: Who are your favorite mystery authors? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
AUTHOR: Oddly enough, though I write in the genre of Chic Lit or cozy mysteries, However, I love hardboiled detective mysteries and thrillers. As I said before, Michael Connelly is my all time favorite at the moment. I love his Harry Bosch series.
When I first starting writing, I tried and failed horribly to emulate the writers like Connelly. I quickly realized I wasn’t coming from the same place to write like him, if that makes sense. I did learn from his style of writing.
MLC: In your present book, is this part of a series, or is it a standalone book?
AUTHOR: It’s part of the Maggie and Odessa Series. This first one was Pennywise and the second book is Drop Dead delicious. Each book can be read alone.
MLC: If you are doing a series, do you see an end to it sometime, or do you plan to go on for several years with it?
AUTHOR: I always see an end to things, though it may take some time to get there. I promised myself, that the characters in Maggie and Odessa series would move and change and be different people by the time the series is completed. I find that I fall out of love with the series characters when they don’t change or grow.
MLC: Do your characters ever drive you a bit crazy by going off in their own direction? If so, how do you rein them in, or do you just let them run off on their own?
AUTHOR: Definitely, my two main characters are very different from each other, with their own set of rules and sensibilities. I want to shake them. Sometimes, they don’t do what I want. I start off with this global idea of what is suppose happen with them but it’s always different by the time the story is done. I rein them in only when they go off plot.
MLC: Do you pattern your sleuths after yourself or someone you know? If so, do you let that person know they were your “pattern”?
AUTHOR: Most of my characters are patterned after friends and relatives or people I met. Sometimes the person figures it out. I’ve been lucky and most have a sense of humor about it. My sister was upset with me once, because she believed one of the unflattering characters was modeled after her. We had a very long, long talk about fictional characters and creative license. Happily, she got over it.
MLC: How long did it take you to get published? How many rejections did you have to suffer through first? Were you ever tempted to give up? What do you think made the difference when it was accepted?
AUTHOR: The books are self-published. I did try to go the traditional route and sent out letters for over two years and have rejection letters to prove it. I received lots of nice ‘Thank you’s, but no. I decided to go a different way. I know other self-published authors who seem content with the avenue they’ve chosen and I followed suit.
MLC: Do you ever attend any conferences? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: Because of my full-time job, it’s very hard. I have attended some local ones. They are very important for networking and I plan to make the effort to attend a few national ones next year.
MLC: Do you have to promote your own work, or does your publisher do that for you?
AUTHOR: I have a friend who is a published by a traditional publisher. Often we do many things together. In comparison, since she not one of the publisher’s top best sellers, she does just as much work as I do to publicize her book. She sets up her own book signings, her travel and some of her promotional materials. I do the same and sometimes in the same venues.
MLC: If you have to do marketing, what methods have worked the best for you?
AUTHOR: I find book clubs are wonderful, because you build a nice word of mouth and fan base. The internet is also a fantastic market place.
MLC: Do you have any idea how your book is selling?
AUTHOR: No, I try not to look or ask. It just makes me crazy.
MLC: What has been the best review you have gotten, and why?
AUTHOR: Probably from a reader. It was someone who’d read the series, enjoyed it and looked forward to the next book. It meant more to me than any literary critic. I know when I check out a new author, I try to read the fans’ reviews.
MLC: Have you won any awards, either as an author or for your books? Please tell us about them.
AUTHOR: None, but maybe one day.
MLC: Is there any one certain thing that a reader has written to you that made you just want to jump up and shout “Yes!!!!”?
AUTHOR: They want more romance. I was a little surprised at that, because I’m all about the mystery and not a romance novelist. Considering the genre I write in, which most would describe a Cozy Mystery, I could see more romance might enhance the story. It has made me put more in my books than I would have. It’s a good direction for my characters.
MLC: What is your next project, and when will it be out?
AUTHOR: I'm working on the next book in the series and a stand-alone book. It’s tentatively called Semisweet. The next book in the Maggie and Odessa series will be out next spring 2010.
MLC: If you could write anything at all, ignoring what editors and publishers say they want, what would it be?
AUTHOR: Truthfully, I don’t know. Right now, I’m writing what I want.
MLC: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring mystery authors?
AUTHOR: Read, read read. There are so many styles in the genre but you have to find your own. Find an author that you love and pick his or her book apart. See what works and what doesn’t. My work is similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I read every one and some twice. She was the style I liked and tried to emulate.
MLC: Do you have any teasers for your readers and fans about the next book?
AUTHOR: Semisweet is the third in the Maggie and Odessa series. A humorous mystery finds these amateur sleuths involved with a Bridezilla, murders and planning the perfect wedding. In typical Maggie and Odessa fashion, they do it with humor, smarts and a little pepper spray.
MLC: If a genie suddenly appeared and said they would grant you just one wish for your books, what would you wish for?
AUTHOR: That Random House wants to publish my series and send me on a paid world tour to promote it.
MMLC: Please give us your website url and your email address where people can contact you.
AUTHOR: The web site is www.jillbrock.net.
MLC: Thank you so much for giving us a little glimpse into your books and your life. We look forward to a lot more books from you.