Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Meet Jill Elizabeth Nelson - Interview & Book Giveaway


Today I’m pleased to welcome Jill Elizabeth Nelson, author of the popular To Catch a Thief series. Her latest book is Reluctant Smuggler (To Catch a Thief Series #3). Let’s meet Jill!

The Bio

Jill Elizabeth Nelson's To Catch a Thief series combines her love of the written word with her love of other art forms. She's thrilled if the adventures that spill from her imagination can raise awareness about art theft—deemed "a looming criminal enterprise" by the FBI. Most of all, she is overjoyed if her words on the page can illuminate a soul with God's love and truths from His word. Jill and her husband of over 25 years have raised four children in rural Minnesota, where they all enjoy camping, outdoor cooking, and hiking. When the weather doesn't permit outside activities, and she's not at her computer, she can be found putting together puzzles, watching a good movie with her husband, or reading.

The Interview

JA: Your latest book is Reluctant Smuggler. Tell us a little bit about it.
JEN: Museum security expert Desiree Jacobs and FBI agent Tony Lucano must find the faceless leader of a vicious international gang of slavers before he snuffs out their lives and escapes with Mayan antiquities and many helpless innocents.

I had a lot of fun writing this book, partly because I got to take my hero and heroine to exotic locations south-of-the-border. They land in one impossible predicament after another until the ultimate villain is revealed, and then the danger just gets cooking! Think Godly Indiana Jones adventure.

I also gave loving care to the relationship between these two, as well as some intriguing developments in secondary characters. But I don’t want to spoil the fun, so I won’t give any more hints.

JA: You literally dreamed up your heroine, Desiree Jacobs. What was that like?
JEN: Well, when I woke up in a cold sweat over her situation, it was pretty intense.

I had dreamed that a woman dressed in black sneaked into an estate, took a painting off the wall, and replaced it with an identical painting. Your standard theft, right? Wrongo! As things often go in dreams, I was aware of some facts without knowing how I knew them. My cat burglar was stealing the forgery and returning the original. What an outrageous thing for a thief to do! I also knew that if she were caught, disaster would follow for many people, not just herself.

When I woke up, I asked myself two questions: What sort of career could my heroine have, which would give her cat burglar skills without making her a thief? My answer was museum security expert. And what bizarre circumstances would cause my museum security expert to take such drastic action? The answer to that question became the plot of the first book in the series, Reluctant Burglar.

JA: Your books deal with art, antiquities, and the people who steal and recover them. Did you have an artistic background before you started writing this series?
JEN: I’ve always loved the fine arts, though I have little gift for anything except creative writing. In that sense, I may be similar to my heroine, Desiree Jacobs, who acknowledges no artistic talent, just reverence for the beauty and cultural heritage reflected in art. During my college career, I tried my hand at glass blowing and pottery-making. In writing the To Catch a Thief series I did extensive research on various periods, types, and sources of art that I incorporated into my books. Reluctant Burglar spotlights the European masters, Reluctant Runaway features American and Native American art, and Reluctant Smuggler focuses on Hispanic art.

Reluctant Smuggler CoverJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading Reluctant Smuggler?
JEN: I want my readers to see the vital role of hope in the health of an individual or society. Gangs are born out of a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. People who have hope join church and civic groups in an effort to help people, not hurt them. Those who see no future for themselves have no reason to resist the allure of the false empowerment the gangs offer.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena? Will there be more books in the To Catch a Thief series?
JEN: Reluctant Smuggler is the final installment in the To Catch a Thief series for now. I’d love to return one day with more Desi and Tony adventures. There are some exploits percolating in my imagination. At the moment, I have a two-book contract to fulfill with Steeple Hill romantic suspense. The first book, Evidence of Murder, releases in February of 2009. Here’s a little foretaste: When a new business owner discovers on her property photos of a decade-old mass murder, she and the surviving son of the massacre become targets of a desperate and powerful killer. I’m deep in the writing of this one and jazzed about the story.

JA: You’re also a public speaker. What’s your favorite thing to talk about?
JEN: To writers, I have a passion for teaching Deep Point of View. Writers will eliminate most of their show/don’t tell issues by mastering this technique. To non-writers, I love to share some startling information that I learned about international art theft during my research for the To Catch a Thief series. My overwhelming passion when I talk to any group is to share my love of storytelling as a fundamental method of conveying Truth to the human heart. Jesus used stories as teaching tools everywhere He went. I’m honored to follow in His footsteps.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
JEN: Well, let’s see. I love dill pickle chips, hate bread pudding (except for the raisins), and drink eight glasses of water a day. But I suspect eating habits aren’t the surprise you were looking for. So how about this: Some years before the hurricane that devastated New Orleans, I attended Mardi Gras . . . as a missionary. That was one wild and weird mission field, literally, but our team experienced some of the most productive divine appointments we’ve ever had. God shined bright in the midst of some of the most insane darkness I’ve ever walked through. My husband and I could tell stories for hours. Some of them would curl your hair; others would make you cry. It was a privilege to be there and a huge spiritual growth experience.

JA: Almost every author I know has a stack of to-be-read books a mile high. What’s in your stack?
JEN: Next up are Virginia Smith’s hoot of a chic lit, Stuck in the Middle, and Sharon Dunn’s equally funny cozy mystery, Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear. I’m also reading a couple of manuscripts for endorsement, Amy Smith’s heart-wrenching suspense, Healing Promises, and Gayle Roper’s nail-biter, Fatal Deduction. But as you said, the pile is truly a mile high. I’m champing to read Demon by Tosca Lee, The Lost Sheep by Brandt Dodson, The Cure by Athol Dickson, The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello, From the Belly of the Dragon by Mark Mynheir, Presumed Guilty by James Scott Bell, and Sticks and Stones by Susan Meissner. Of course, I have others on in the pile but that’s a sample of what’s calling to me from my bookshelf.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Jill Elizabeth Nelson publishing news?
JEN: Head on over to my web site, for book excerpts, a video trailer, an audio recording of me reading chapter one of Reluctant Smuggler, a monthly contest for a signed copy of Smuggler, and an opportunity to sign up for my e-newsletter. The newsletter comes out approximately every other month and contains a devotional thought or prayer for my subscribers, an appearance update, publishing news, and special offers exclusive to those on my e-mail list.

Thank you, Jill, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win A Book
The entire To Catch a Thief series is in stores now, but you can win one of the books here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 30th and will receive their choice from the series. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!


Hannah said...

great interview! i'd love to win one of her books! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com thanks!

Jill said...

Thanks for interviewing me, Jennifer. I'm excited to give a book away!

Refreshing One said...

I really enjoyed this interview. I would love to win one of Jill's books. The whole To Catch A Thief series sounds like a great read, not to be missed.


Lesha said...

Great interview!

windycindy said...

Hello, I have read many good things about Jill's book! Please enter me in your contest. Thanks,Cindi

Maureen said...

The books look very good.


Audra Elizabeth said...

Another book that sounds great!


Sue H. said...

A wonderful interview. Please enter me in the book drawing. Thank you very much.