Trigger is a mystery novel written in the vein of the Bourne Identity series. The inspiration for Jill’s book came from her many travel experiences, including backpacking in over 30 countries.
Jill serves as vice president, commercial lending at Oregon Coast Bank in Newport. She works at the bank alongside her father and two brothers. While she has en- joyed her 10 year banking career, she’s always had a passion for reading and a skill for writing. It was six years ago when Jill decided to put a concerted effort into writing a book, and in the process, discovered that it was an artistic outlet she had been yearning for, and in a lot of ways, therapeutic.
When I asked Jill what inspired her to write Trigger, the answer was a bit surprising: “I was bribed,” she said. In fact, Jill’s husband, whom she had met in graduate school and who knew how well-regarded her writing was, ultimately provided her the final piece of motivation needed: a flat screen TV for the bedroom and a shopping spree. It must have been an attractive offer because, after just one month, Jill had developed a complete outline for her story.
“I thought about a lot of things in that month,” said Jill. “I knew that I wanted to incorporate experiences from my travels and that it needed to have a strong female lead character. I wanted it to be a fun and exciting read, and it also needed to be realistic.”
It took Jill one year to write the rough draft, which she completed while still working full time at the bank. It then took another year to get the book edited to the point where she felt good about submitting it as a complete manuscript. “It became a labor of love and basically a second job since you really have to commit to make the time to write and then to getting it published,” said Jill.
Jill notes that anyone can self-publish, but getting an established publisher to put your book out there is tough. Writing a book is one thing, but, “in order to succeed, it had to be something I focused a lot of time and energy on.” Jill added, “I had to spend a lot of time contacting literary agents and independent publishers until I found one I could work with.” This included researching who she could submit to, how to submit, and then preparing the book for submission. After that, it’s a matter of playing the “waiting game”.
“It’s a very time consuming and frustrating process that makes it hard not to get discouraged to the point that you quit,” stated Jill. “After working so hard to actually complete a book that I was proud of, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me so I just kept at it and finally found a small publishing company in Seattle that wanted to publish my book.” When all was said and done, it ended up taking Jill longer to publish her book than it did to write it.
Jill’s book is published through a company called Booktrope, which uses a concept called “team publishing” where the author, editor, proof reader, book manager, project manager and cover artist all communicate via a private website. The process allowed Jill to be a part of everything from cover design to marketing. “In the end, it is really my book in every way,” said Jill. After the more than two year process, Trigger became available for purchase in December of 2014.
Jill drew upon her own experiences backpacking through Europe for material for Trigger. It was important to her that the book told a story that she herself would want to read. This meant the book had to be feasible, packed with adventure, exotic locations, mystery and romance. “I let my imagination do the rest,” said Jill. “Two of the best pieces of advice I have ever received are: to write what you know, and to write what you want to read — and that is what I did.”
“The Bourne Identity books and movies are similar to Trigger in many ways because they are set in Europe and have an international espionage element, though my heroine is a young woman on summer vacation.” stated Jill. There is a lot of adventure and action in Trigger as there is in the Bourne books. I very much wanted my main character to be strong and interesting, but also relatable. She also had to be part of the action, not just a damsel in distress. She had to be someone who got involved and could throw a punch but also get beat up because, in the real world, if you are in a fight you get hit.”
In what free time she has outside of her banking career and raising her daughter, Jill is busy jotting down ideas for future books. In fact, she is already working on a sequel to Trigger, as well as an outline for a third book.
When asked what advice she would give fellow bankers about the importance of pursuing their passion, Jill responded, “Make time for it and never give it up! Everyone has a busy life and has things that come up that make it difficult to continue to pursue something they love, but it is so important to have a passion in your life, a goal, something that drives you, and when you make time for it you feel better about everything, and when you achieve that goal, there is no better feeling in the world.”