10Qs for Jill Paterson. I met Jill during our Blog Tour de Troops in November 2011. During the Memorial Weekend, authors made free ebooks available to our service men and women. The Tour was a collaboration between authors and bloggers. The bloggers posted book reviews and the authors donated their works. All readers benefited from the wealth of blogs and the exposure to new books. My contribution were two book reviews. One of those was Jill’s “Murder at the Rocks.”
Jill Paterson was born in Yorkshire, UK, and grew up in Adelaide, South Australia before spending 11 years in Ontario, Canada. On returning to Australia, she settled in Canberra.
After doing an arts degree at the Australian National University, she worked at the Australian National University’s School of Law before spending the next 10 years with the Business Council of Australia and the University of NSW, ADFA Campus, in the School of Electrical Engineering.
Jill is the author of three published books. The Celtic Dagger, Murder At The Rocks, and Once Upon A Lie which are all part of the Fitzjohn Mystery Series.
1: Are your books a continuous story such as Harry Potter or, are they stand alone books but featuring the same characters? Do any story elements continue in another book?
Although the Fitzjohn mysteries are a series with the same detectives, they aren’t a continuous story. Having said that, however, they do have story elements that carry through to the next book. One of these is Fitzjohn’s love for his orchids, a legacy from his late wife, Edith. And then there’s his continuing problem with, his nemesis, Chief Superintendent Grieg. His rather attractive niece, Sophie, also keeps Fitzjohn on his toes. A university student, her exuberant campaigning on campus lands her in gaol, in my third novel, Once Upon A Lie. At that point, Fitzjohn doubts he would have survived parenthood.
2: Lately a lot of prequels have popped up on both the book and movie market. Have you ever considered writing one?
No, I haven’t because I wouldn’t have thought that my mystery series would be a good candidate for a prequel. Fitzjohn is in his element now as a highly successful detective. Having said that, I suppose In a prequel, he could be a highly successful constable!
3: Have you ever considered writing a teen book?
I must admit, it’s never crossed my mind, but if I did attempt to write a teen book, it would probably be a mystery story. Mysteries seem to be popular no matter what the age group. I remember reading The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton when I was very young.
4: When you start your research for a book, do you use pen & paper to jot down thoughts or do you use a computer?
First I do a lot of thinking. Much of it when I first wake up. I think my mind is very clear at that time of the day. Not only do I think about the plot, but what sort of characters I’m going to introduce as well as giving some thought to their names. After this thought process, I make written notes, and when everything is set in my mind, including a fair idea of what the ending will be, I start typing on my computer. I don’t always start at the beginning. In my present WIP, I’ve started with a scene that’s now a quarter way through.
5: Do you have any specific writing rituals?
I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose I do. Through necessity, I organise my writing around other family commitments so for me that means writing in the morning and/or afternoon. It’s probably not in my true nature, however. If I had a choice, I’d be nocturnal like my cat, Fergus. He’d love that.
My other ritual would be that when I finish writing for the day, I decide what part of my manuscript I’m going to work on the following day. That gives me a goal, and I know I won’t stop until I’ve got there.
6: Movies based on a book can be great to visualize the story but they can also be a disappointment. What movie based on a book disappointed you?
I remember it well. It was called City of Joy and starred Patrick Swayze. The book was the story of a priest who worked for the desperately poor in India. Based on a true story, I believe. I’d enjoyed reading it so much, that I was delighted when I found they’d made a movie of it. I was disappointed, however, because the movie beared almost no similarity to the book. It’d been turned in to a love story. I might have enjoyed it if I hadn’t been expecting something else.
7: Have you ever used characteristics from someone you know in one of your books?
Not intentionally, but I suspect that I have, and do. I think it’s unavoidable because the idiosyncrasies and habits of those around us, become embedded in our brains, don’t you think? Even someone we’ve come across by chance and never meet again can leave an impression that sticks like glue. One such person who comes to mind was a delightful, eccentric, lady of 92 I met while shopping. Not only did I learn that her cell phone had been stolen by a friend, and she’d had the raincoat she was wearing since she was 13 years old, but also her complete life story. How could she not appear in one of my books, one day!
8: What inspires you most to write? Breaking news? Nature? People? History?
The first three, I think. With breaking news, there’s always the possibility that an idea for a plot or subplot will spring to mind. In fact, breaking news is what sparked my book, The Celtic Dagger. A car, belonging to a scientist had been found on a bridge with the keys still in the ignition. At the time, it was thought that this scientist had jumped! Unfortunately, I never heard the outcome, but I did start writing my book. Funnily enough, my scientist turned into an archaeologist and The Celtic Dagger in no way resembled my initial idea, but the breaking news was what sparked it all off.
I find nature inspiring because it provides me with the most peaceful time of day. The early morning when I take my camera and go walking in the fields behind my house. The only sound is that of the birds of which there are many, and perhaps a gentle breeze rustling through the trees. The kangaroos stare at me and when the ducks and water fowl, at the lake, see me coming along, they beat their way out of the water expecting bread. Unfortunately, I’m only armed with a camera. You would have to get inspired with all that first thing in the morning.
People are always interesting because each and every one of them is unique. You only have to sit in a coffee shop and watch the body language.
9: What was your favourite subject in school?
It would have to be History. I enjoyed English history the most. In university, I studied Russian history, and it just happened to be during the time of the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. History was in the making, and changed daily.
10: A billionaire gives you a million dollars on the condition that you may spend it but not accrue any assets (like in the Richard Pryor movie “Brewster’s Millions”). How will you spend your million?
Mmm. Well, if I can’t accrue assets and have to spend the lot, I would probably set up some kind of charity that would give the homeless a warm meal and a place to sleep for the night. I’d also donate some money toward research into a cure for schizophrenia.