Jill: With Offer, I was very keen to write about a sparky bookshop manageress who loves books, and my readers seem to have appreciated this - mainly because they're readers too! With Miranda, I wanted to set the story in a hair salon as I think they're amazing places for eavesdropping, gossiping and fun. I don't enjoy having my hair done, but I still love going because I know I'll come away with enough ideas to fill ten books!
Keira: Do character names come easily for you or is there a trial and error process?
Jill: Good question. I use my books of babies' names to find them, and sometimes they work straight away, but occasionally they don't work out and need to be changed. A lot easier to do now, with word processors, than in the old days when you had to sit down with your 600 typed pages and a bucket of Tippex...
Keira: Do you prefer a heroine, hero, or couple over the other and why?
Jill: Sorry, I don't understand this question. Is this an American term? I like all my main characters!
Keira: What do you think is the hardest thing for anyone to do in a relationship?
Jill: Ooh, another great question! Personally speaking, my other half is tidy and I'm not, so I have to try very hard to clean up after myself. And he has to try very hard not to mind when I fail! I suppose, in a nutshell, we're talking about compromise.
Keira: For you, what is the appeal of contemporary romance?
Jill: It's easy entertainment and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. We like to relax and escape from the pressures of life. I write feel-good fiction and people tell me I've cheered them up. For me, that's just perfect.
Keira:Is there anything you struggle with when writing? How to do you overcome that?
Jill: At the moment I'm struggling because my heroine has taken a job working in an office. The problem is, I've never worked in an office so I haven't a clue what she's supposed to be doing all day. If it was something more specific I could look it up on Google, but I'm just having to guess! (My agent had to break it to me that secretaries don't take shorthand any more...)
Keira: If you could be one of your characters - either book - who would you be?
Jill: Either of them, but Miranda is probably the nicer person, so I'll go with her. And she gets to see a great tennis match on the Centre Court at Wimbledon , which would make my year!
Keira: Fill in the blank: If you're not writing you are ______
Jill: ...Feeling very naughty and guilty, as if I've taken a day off work when I'm not even sick. Even when I'm doing other things, I'm probably still thinking about the characters and the plot at the back of my mind. (That ' s my excuse, anyway.) Yesterday was such a beautiful sunny day that my daughter and I went to Bath for lunch at Jamie Oliver ' s restaurant. We sat on the terrace, ate wonderful food and had the best time. Then we went shopping afterwards. Today I ' m working extra-hard to make up for it!
Keira: What inspired you to put pen to paper as it were and write in the first place?
Jill: This sounds terrible, but I really started because I wanted to become rich! I had no money at all and saw a magazine piece about successful romance writers whose lives had been transformed. I sat down and wrote a book. And now I've written twenty in total. It's been wonderful and it has completely changed my life.
Keira: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Jill: I'd just like to say thanks, Keira, for asking to interview me. I'm so thrilled to be published in the States and everyone's being so kind about my books. The feedback has been fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better response. You're all stars!