Monday, 23 April 2012
Author Spotlight - Q&A with Jillian Chantel
STEPH: I don't know much about "The Gambler." What's it about?
JILLIAN: The Gambler is a romance/murder mystery which takes place on the Queen Mary, an ocean liner that sailed the seas from 1936-1967. The ship is beautiful and was the epitome of grace and first class service in her early years. Eventually, she was used as a war ship in World War II and then restored to her former glory and sailed as a luxury liner again. I am fascinated by the old liners as well as the early to mid part of the twentieth century, so I wanted to set a story on this ship. This is the first in a series of three books and this one is set in 1937 when the ship was at the height of its glory and all the rich and famous wanted to be on-board. The story centers around a young man named Dirk McSwain who has a talent for winning at cards. His home is in danger of foreclosure so he books passage on the Queen Mary to win big. He gets more than he bargains for when he meets three Irish sisters and one of the passengers on board dies after an altercation with him.
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
JILLIAN: The first draft took about a month.
STEPH: How much research did you have to do?
JILLIAN: I had to research the history of the Queen Mary and actually spent two nights on-board the ship in March of 2011. I took the behind the scenes tour as well as the ghost tour. It was very educational but I got a little bogged down when it came time to write the story as I kept trying to weave in too much of the research. I had to finally realize that I needed to let some of it go as the reader didn’t want a map of the ship or a history lesson. Once I let that go, the story flowed better.
STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?
JILLIAN: It’s very much like the men’s card room I pictured on the ship. There were ladies’ areas of the ship and men’s areas as well. The classes as well as the sexes were separated a lot in that era. The men had separate rooms for smoking and gambling.
STEPH: Eden is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?
JILLIAN: Eden has strengths she doesn’t know she has. She’s the elder sister by three years of her stunning sisters who happen to be twins. Eden has lived her life in their shadow and has no idea of what she has to offer the world. She also has a psychic gift that has caused her family to treat her as a freak. She has a great wit and is a quick thinker. She’s a champion swimmer and loves to compete.
STEPH: What does Dirk find appealing about her?
JILLIAN: Initially, Dirk is blinded by the beauty of the twin sisters and sees them as targets for his get rich quick scheme- he plans to play cards with them and win some money to help with his dilemma. When he dances with Eden and realizes she is quite intelligent, his feelings start to change. When he realizes she’s got a psychic gift, his admiration for her increases. They eventually team up to solve the mystery of the death of the passenger and grow closer as a result of this work.
STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?
JILLIAN: As I wrote the story, I was surprised to find that the story actually has a Cinderella theme. It’s also a story about acceptance of the gifts God gives to each of us, no matter how much the world at large may think that your gift is not a gift.
STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?
JILILAN: Everywhere. In fact, I have a dear friend right now who is in the midst of new love at age 52 and she is giddy with it. Her new love is so romantic and supportive of her, I’m planning to steal some of the wonderful things he’s done for her for my next book.
STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?
JILIAN: I have the Sony and I also have the Kindle app on my Ipad as well as Ibooks.
STEPH: Fun question: What are your plans for spring?
JILLIAN: I just got back from the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago. It was fun but exhausting. I met a lot of the Desert Breeze authors there and that was awesome. My only other plans for spring are to travel to Texas for my cousin’s son’s graduation from law school. He’ll be the second lawyer in the family besides me and I’m super proud of him.
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