Jilly Paddock, a biologist by inclination, spent her career in medical research and microbiology labs. Born in South London, Jilly began writing at eleven and hasn’t looked back. She is an avid collector of books, tarot decks, glass candlesticks and perfume bottles, and craft paraphernalia. “I own more silver and gemstone earrings than any woman can wear in a year.” Her hobbies are great experience for her fiction, jewellery making, horse riding, sail boating, with a bit of gun and bow shooting. Now she resides along the flat open spaces of East Anglia, in a small, untidy house which she shares with a book and CD collector who also edits and reviews books.
What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
‘Dead Men Rise Up Never’ is my latest book from Pro Se Press. Detective Inspector A. Afton Lamont and her partner, Jerome, work in Prosperity City’s Police Department on the quiet colony world of Siobhos. A man is murdered on the city streets, stabbed through the heart by a unicorn, but in the cruel light of day, the mythical beast is just a dead white pony with a tin-plate horn tied to its head. Afton and Jerome follow the trail back to a group of bohemian artists led by Cain, a famous painter who is the last descendant of one of the founding families of Siobhos, and then their problems really start, as he’s possibly above the law.
What is the usual process for your writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Neither, really. I usually start with a beginning and some key scenes in mind, and maybe I’ll write a few notes, but I don’t put any words on the page until I’ve worked out what I want to write in my head. Sometimes I’ll have disjointed pieces and have to meander around to join up the dots. With ‘Dead Men’, I didn’t know who the murderer was until about two-thirds of the way through, and when I had that “Ah ha!” moment, I had to re-jig the start so it all made sense.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
I research the bits I need to – the science, the landscape and environment, and the nuts and bolts of the set and props. I probably spend far too long on trivial details like choosing the right names for all the cast and getting the timeline right.
Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision. If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
When I worked full time, I wrote as a hobby in the evenings and at weekends. In 2011 I took early retirement and was able to devote more time to the writing. My pension pays the bills, so anything I earn on the writing is a bonus.
What is your daily writing time like?
I don’t have a set routine, as I can write when I want to. I’m an owl rather than a lark, so I tend to work in the evenings. I have several projects on the go at the moment, but no deadlines, so I’m not writing much.
Can you tell us about your publishing experience? Are you Indie, Traditional, or do a bit of both?
I tried to go the traditional route in the 1990s – I had two short stories published in magazines and placed a novel with an agent. She sent it around all the big publishers and some editors liked it quite a lot, but not enough to buy it. Eventually we gave up.
After I retired, I self-published that novel, two novellas and a collection of short stories as e-books on Kindle. I then had a short story published by Pro Se Press in their anthology, Pro Se Presents #19 and they offered me a contract for the novel, ‘To Die A Stranger’, which came out in 2014, and for ‘Dead Men’. I have other titles due to come out later this year from other Indie publishers, including a huge space opera that runs to two volumes.
Everyone likes to know where an author gets their ideas from, but what I want to know is what is the strangest thing to inspire one of your stories?
‘Warbird’ was inspired by an ornament in my childhood home, a carving of bone or ivory of a boat with a prow in the shape of an eagle’s or phoenix’s head. It suggested a spaceship to me, proud and aggressive, loaded with weapons, and that gave me the title and a feel for the book. I don’t know what happened to it – it was probably lost when my parents moved.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
‘To Die A Stranger’ is the first volume of a series of approximately ten books, and its sequel, ‘With Amber Tears’ will appear from Pro Se Press in late 2015. It’s an SF/espionage adventure about a bored little rich girl who tries to be an actress, almost dies in an aircar crash and ends up paired to a sentient computer, gaining a range of psionic powers. Anna and her computer partner, who she nicknames Zenni, are hunted by Earth Intelligence, who use pairs as efficient, lethal and very scary spies.
‘The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone’ is a self-published novella and tells of Afton and Jerome’s first case, the kidnapping of the daughter of Earth’s ambassador on Siobhos. The ‘spook’ of the title is one of EI’s psionic agent-pairs. It’s only available as an e-book on Kindle or Smashwords, but Pro Se will be doing a print version in the future.
‘Warbird’ is the space opera – I describe it as “like Star Trek, with sex and swearing”. It’s about the Vienna, a new type of starship that can go very far, very fast. Her Captain, Quinn Gresham, and Commander, Rachel Murray, make contact with a non-humanoid alien race and end up in the middle of a war between the aliens and Earth.
If I may, I’d like to mention a charity anthology that I have a story in, ‘Blood Type: An Anthology of Vampire SF on the Cutting Edge’ published by Nightscape Press. I’d never written a vampire story before and I was delighted to appear with authors of the calibre of William F. Nolan, Mike Resnick and Peter Watts. The charity supported is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
I’ll be at FantasyCon 2015 on October 23-25 in Nottingham, UK. I’ll be doing a reading and appearing on a panel about New Pulp.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
Is there really any difference between the terms ‘author’ and ‘writer’? If you write, you’re a writer, even if you’re unpublished. Just keep doing it – keep improving and polishing your work, finish it and send it out. There are plenty of homes for short stories, so do some research and find somewhere that suits what you do. There aren’t any shortcuts and you might not succeed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Who is your favorite author? Tell us what makes this author stand out in your mind, and what book would you recommend to someone new to that author?
If I only get one, it has to be Peter S. Beagle. I love his books – it’s the beautiful poetry of his style, the deceptive simplicity and the skillful way he twists your emotions, making you laugh and then cry within a handful of lines. His classic title is ‘The Last Unicorn’, but ‘A Fine and Private Place’is also lovely. My favourite is ‘The Folk of the Air’.