Sunday, December 1, 2013

Interview: Jill Amadio, author of mystery Digging Too Deep

Interview with debut mystery author Jill Amadio.  Digging Too Deep comes out today!

Paperback $15.95, ISBN: 978-0-9887816-9-6
E-book, $2.99, ISBN: 978-0-9895804-2-7

Available at at discount;
at Amazon, at discount.  Also  at MysteryInk bookstore.

Ebook from amazon, barnes&noble; untreed reads, apple i-books; approved for libraries worldwide.

1. When did you begin writing?  Why?

I began writing at age 6, won all the English prizes at school, studied English literature and art history in college, never graduated because I found a job on a newspaper and jumped ship from the University of Portsmouth, UK. The job was not exactly my dream as a reporter but I was thrilled at 19 to be the general dogsbody in the press room. I was delegated Assistant to the Show Business columnist who took me to many of his interviews with movie stars, i.e. Martin & Lewis, Audrey Hepburn, Tarzan – forget which one. I also opened all the letters for the Agony Columnist (Ann Landers in Brit language), and sent them on to her. I made phone calls to the reporters’ wives to tell them their husbands were working late. I once forgot till midnight, and innocently called. Oh well. Why do I write? Only thing I knew how to do as a child, I had no other skills and devoured all the Agatha Christies. Mysteries became my favorite reading.

2.  When and why did you begin writing mysteries? 

I began writing my first mystery six years ago while handling a fulltime job as a magazine columnist. Prior to that I had been hired to ghostwrite a true crime book, and the following year, a crime novel for a wealthy lady who’d always wanted her name on a book for her coffee table. Those two books were good training when it came to writing my own mystery. I was living on a small island in Newport Beach, CA, no serious crime ever touched it, and I decided it needed a juicy murder or two. The setting turned out to be perfect.

3.  Are you writing a series or a stand-alone?  Explain your basic idea for your series. 

Am writing a series because my series character, a transplanted Cornish woman named Tosca Trevant, drives the plot and, insatiably curious, she manages to find dead bodies strewn everywhere so she just has to keep going through her books. She writes a gossip column called “Tiara Tittle-Tattle,” about the royals. After discovering a scandal at Buckingham Palace she is rather rudely hustled out of the UK. Appalled at a neighbor’s unkempt garden she digs up more than she bargained for: skeletal remains. It gives her the idea to be promoted to a crime reporter, thus earning her way back home.

4.  Tell us about your journey to publication with this book. 

I tried to find an agent for DIGGING TOO DEEP and had a few in-person interviews at writers conferences but nothing jelled. They mostly said there were too many mysteries out there, the market was saturated, and that there were too many eBooks. I found a small press, Mainly Murder Press, and fell in love with the name. Figured I’d give it one last shot before going the self-pub route. Their website when I checked it in January said no submissions until late spring. I queried anyway, saying that here in California it is already late spring. MMP responded quickly and asked for the full MS. A week later we signed a contract. 

5.  Why did you choose to write about the topic, community, issues you chose? 

I chose to write about Orange County, Southern California because after moving West from the East Coast I found it a bit of a culture shock and so does my amateur sleuth, a transplanted Brit.  She waits anxiously but in vain each day for rain, her brolly and wellies at the ready. My theme is a personal one, that of an immigrant – I am from the UK – trying to make sense of America, trying to fit in, and figuring out the American psyche. I have given Tosca my own passion for this country – after she settles down – and she becomes one of its fiercest advocates. Among her future battles will be scolding disgruntled Brits in the U.S.

6.  How have you found it to be published?  Share that experience. 

Signing a contract with a ‘real’ publisher was exhilarating mostly because the publisher, Judith Ivie, and her editors ‘got’ Tosca. They understand her witty remarks, her curiosity, and her desperation to find a way to be reinstated back home. After the excitement of signing the contract there comes panic at the amount of promotion that needs to be done. With the advent of social media and the Internet, blogging, appearances, presentations, and other ways to create buzz it is so time-consuming to have to handle it all, to say nothing of the occasional freak-out when you mix up emails. Then there is a budget to be found for promotional items like large posters to be printed, an easel to buy, and bookmarks. But then you take a loving look at the book in your hands and realize, it finally came to fruition.

7.  Do you have comments from readers or reviewers you’d like to share? 

Obviously, the 72 agents I queried didn’t want it, some with comments, others not, nor the other 5 small presses. All my mystery author friends and colleagues enjoyed it, and being a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America provides a deep well of those willing to offer a blurb or comment.  Dennis Palumbo wrote:  “… a sly, witty cozy with a delightful heroine. The perfect beach read no matter the weather.”  Marcia Talley wrote: “…Tosca Trevant is a smart-mouthed Miss Marple in a leather mini-skirt. All signs point to success in her new career.” Sheila Lowe wrote, “A fun, frothy read with an unlikely heroine and the bonus of learning a bit of Cornish, too!” Aileen Baron wrote: “Meet Tosca Trevant, the irrepressible Cornish erstwhile gossip columnist of the royals and an aspiring crime reporter three steps ahead of the police... Let’s hope we hear more…”   I am very grateful to all.
Others offered blurbs but we ran out of time. Publication followed very quickly after final proofing.  I am sending out review copies over the next couple of months. Most reviewers did not take digital ARCs.

8.  What other books have you published and where, when? 

I co-authored a biography of Rudy Vallee with his wife, published in 1996, MY VAGABOND LOVER, out of print; a biography of a WWII fighter ace, GUNTHER RALL: LUFTWAFFE ACE AND NATO GENERAL, published in 2002 and now a successful eBook on amazon; I ghostwrote several biographies, a true crime, business books, and a crime novel, mostly published under clients’ names.

9.  Do you have a work in progress now?  Is it part of a series? 

Tosca Trevant is now well entrenched in her new American home although still somewhat puzzled at some American habits. Her next adventure involves the reburial of the ashes of Raymond Chandler’s wife, Cissy, that were added to his grave. I have written about one-quarter of the book so far, title is DIGGING UP SHAMUS. 

10.  If you belong to Sisters in Crime, and/or the Guppies, has that been helpful?  How?

Unbelievably helpful and supportive. The generous sharing of writers’ tips, tears, and joys is amazing and endless. SinC is great for personal networking at the meetings as well as at their other events. I have been a panelist and reader at the meetings.

11.  What benefit to you has it been to go to mystery conferences like Malice Domestic? 

I’ve only attended Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, and California Crime Writers Conference. I’ve been a panelist a few times talking about ghosting and writing your first mystery. I am attending LCC, Bouchercon, and Tucson Festival of Books in 2014, and hope to attend Malice in 2014 if the budget allows.

12.  What else would like to say about your books, the next one in your series? 

I am probably more passionate about Tosca than she is herself. I do a ton of research – DIGGING TOO DEEP has classical music clues, opera, geology, Cornish cusswords, mead, and fun details about the royals, the UK, and other tidbits for Tosca’s “Tiara Tittle-Tattle” column.   Who knows -- perhaps she’ll find a Russian prince incognito in California.


Jill Amadio was a reporter in England, Spain, and Thailand and a crime reporter in the U.S.  Originally from St. Ives, Cornwall, the land of mead and piskies, she has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the United States. She is the author and co-author of several biographies, and a ghostwriter of nonfiction and true crime. Her best-selling biography, Gunther Rall: Luftwaffe Ace and NATO General, is now on kindle and Nook. Jill presently lives in Dana Point, California.

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