Sunday, August 19, 2007

Reluctant Burgular by Jill Elizabeth Nelson - Review/Interview

Reluctant Burglar (To Catch a Thief Series #1)
by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
softcover, 2006, Multnomah
ISBN 1590526864
335 pgs.

Desiree Jacobs schooled her breathing as she handed her ID to the museum guard. Relax. . .just relax. This guy has no idea what you are up to.

And so begins line one, chapter one, in book one of the To Catch a Thief Series. Reluctant Burglar, the spin-tingling, nail-chewing debut novel by Jill Elizabeth Nelson throws us into the world of Desiree Jacobs. A world that suddenly spins out of control when she learns of her father’s murder.

Add to the whirlwind Tony Lucano, a Special Agent with the FBI who’s hot on the trail of an art thief who he suspects is Desiree’s father. Toss in hidden codes, kidnaping, a hard case of trust, and international art thieves. The events that follow throw Desiree into a cat and mouse game that will have readers on the edge of their seats.

But inside this tornado of events, both Desiree and Tony learn that only God can calm their hearts and give them direction in a fast-paced world.

Jill Nelson does an excellent job of making real-to-life characters while giving us an exciting read and eager anticipation for Book #2 and #3 in the To Catch A Thief series.

Wonderfully done!


Paula: Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey.
Jill: I wrote my first novel (novella length, actually) in 6th grade. It was a ridiculous mystery tale involving a gaggle of kid-sleuths. Not a shred of the manuscript yet exists, and the world is grateful. However, I finished it—a major milestone for any would-be writer. Many manuscripts molder in desk drawers or PC memories that never get beyond a few chapters or even a few pages. In order to be a writer, you must write, and you must finish what you write! Since then, I’ve worn the hats of poet, journalist, essayist, short story-teller, and book reviewer. But my current chapeau is my favorite—novelist.

Paula: How did you come up with the idea for Reluctant Burglar?
Jill: I dreamed the story . . . literally! In the wee hours one morning, I woke up all tense from a vivid dream about a woman dressed in black clothing who sneaked into a mansion in the middle of the night. She took a painting off the wall and replaced it with an identical one. In the way of dreams, I knew that she was stealing the forgery and putting the genuine back. How odd! I also knew that if she were caught, disaster would follow for many, not just herself. She was just starting her escape when I woke up.

Two questions haunted me after that dream. What sort of career could that woman have that would give her cat burglar skills and yet not make her a crook? My answer was museum security expert. What bizarre circumstances would force her to do something so outrageous? The answer to that question became the plot for Reluctant Burglar.

Book excerpts, a video trailer for Reluctant Runaway (book two), and a monthly contest for free books are all available on my web site:

Paula: We’d like to know some of your personal tastes. What is your favorite book, author and movie and why?
Jill: My favorite book is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. After I closed the last page of that book, I checked to see who’d had the Godly guts to publish such a moving and disturbing novel. It was Multnomah. I remember standing up and saying out loud, "One day, I’m going to publish with this house." God must have heard and smiled. My publisher for the To Catch a Thief series is Multnomah!

Paula: Are you a seat of the pants writer?
Jill: To a large degree. I know my characters, because they guide the story from one event to the next based on their personalities and how they would uniquely react to situations. I also know the beginning, high points in the middle, and the place I want to arrive at the end. The other details flow as I go.

Paula: What was/is the hardest thing about writing - beginning with your idea for a novel to getting your first box of books and everything in between.
Jill: Writing. It’s hard work—work that I enjoy, but work nonetheless. Like I mentioned above about the incomplete manuscripts, the largest part of the writing life is finishing what you start. The polishing can come after, but a writer must write in order to be a writer. That sounds like a duh! comment, but with so much wasted talent around, it bears saying. Writing is not a discipline for the lazy or unfocused, especially when you have a deadline.

Paula: Can you share with us something embarrassing that has happened to you - and have you ever used that in a book?
Jill: At my first writers’ conference ever, I mistook the small bowl of mayonnaise in front of me for vanilla pudding and took a big bite. Ewwww! I felt like an idiot. Since I never had the courage to ask anyone at my table if they noticed my icky error, and no one ever said anything, I may be sharing an embarrassing moment that could have remained my secret. And no, I’ve never put this one in a book, but maybe I will one day. Dinner table foolishness can be pretty hilarious, and I always inject notes of humor into my books to temper the suspense.

Paula: You speak on a variety of topics from Art Snatchers and Thief Catchers, How to Treat Your Loved Ones Like Strangers, I Want to Be a Published Author–How Do I get There and more. Why did you choose these topics?
Jill: I have something to say from my heart and experience about these subjects. The answer is as simple as that. Writers must write from the heart. Speaking topics are the same. Next month, I’ll be teaching an on-line course for Sormag and am tentatively scheduled for an in-person class at the Northwestern Bookstore in Maple Grove, MN.

Paula: Reluctant Runaway was recently released and the third book in the To Catch a Thief series, Reluctant Smuggler will be available in January 2008. Will there be more titles to this series or will it end there?
Jill: At this time, the series is set to end with Reluctant Smuggler. However, if sales please the publisher and fans clamor for more Desi and Tony, that notion can be revisited. I’m working on proposals for other suspense novels at the moment.

Paula: We both live in Minnesota, so if we were to shop together at the Mall of America, what store would you want to go to first?
Jill: Barnes and Noble. ;-) Seriously, the MOA is not my idea of shopping bliss. Too big, too crowded, too much time wasted walking from one far-flung store to another. A couple of reasons I enjoy living in a rural community are no lines and no traffic jams. Both conditions exist at the MOA. And I am so not a fashionista. But, say, let’s head on over to the Terry Redlin Center in Watertown, SD, or some similar emporium that features great art or great books, and I’m right there with you!

Paula: Can you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Jill: Hmmmm! Well, here’s a quirk about myself that sends my family into stitches. When I get to laughing so hard I can scarcely breathe, I let out these squeaky, breathy snorts that sound like Muttley from the old Dastardly and Muttley cartoons. My husband says, "Here comes Muttley," and they’ll all yuk it up . . . at me, not with me!

Thanks so much, Jill!

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