Blurb for CREEP:
Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren't, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she's finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she's taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won't let her walk away.
Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancé discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn't resist—who is now the monster who won't let her go.
Does that not sound friggin' AWESOME??? I was lucky enough to win a copy of a CREEP ARC on her blog and while I suck at writing book reviews, I will say that the book was completely gripping and filled with heart racing tension. Jennifer managed to create a story with great settings, a plausible scenario, and a wonderful diversity of three dimensional characters, each of which had very distinct voices. I especially love Ethan who she brilliantly manages to make both incredibly hot and sexy and yet creepy and scary as all hell. The ending was surprising and while the story has a solid ending, she left it with an OMG moment which has allowed the story to have a sequel. WHICH IT WILL!!! YAYAYAY.
Now I want to share the love cause the book is, well, EFFING AWESOME! It's not YA, but it does take place on a college campus and since I myself have always wanted to write a YA Thriller, I was excited to read this book. And since reading it, I have in fact begun that YA Thriller :-) So, for all of you interested in writing a thriller whether it be in the YA or adult market, you should definitely check this book out!
Could you give us a brief herstory (J) about your journey to publication?
Ha, love the wordplay, Mel! Thanks for having me!
I started writing seriously back in 2007. Wrote one novel, trunked it, and wrote another in 2008. That second book was CREEP. I workshopped it like crazy, received some excellent feedback, and ended up with seven drafts just over a year later. Started querying in October 2009 and signed with my agent in February 2010. My agent took me through another two rounds of revisions, and we went on sub at the end of April 2010. The book sold to Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books in June 2010.
Summing it up like this, it seems like everything went pretty smoothly, but I definitely had my share of agent and editor rejections (52 combined – and yes, I counted! I've kept them all!).
It's hard to explain how it started, but I've always loved thrillers. I love stories that are dark and fast, with high stakes and gruesome murders, and villains who are smart and unusual. I love heroes who are put in impossible situations and have to dig deep to survive. Reading and writing thrillers are an adrenaline rush!
Do you remember what you were doing or where you were when the idea for this story hit you upside the head?
I was hoping nobody would ever ask me this question, because my answer is SO LAME!
Mel, I had a dream. Yep, a dream. I dreamt about a college student who was also a serial killer leading this crazy double life. I woke up and couldn't stop thinking about him all day. He was gorgeous and twisted, and I thought maybe I'd turn him into a short story. What I ended up with was a first chapter.
As a former psychology major myself, I noticed that you had a strong sense of the terminology being used, which really authenticated the feel of what was going on in that respect. What knowledge/experience did you bring to the writing of your novel CREEP and what things did you have to research? How did you go about doing that research?
Thank you! I'm glad to know that paying attention in class paid off! Honestly, nothing, really. A good portion of the story takes place in a university, and having been a university student (I majored in psychology), plus having worked in a couple different post-secondary institutions, the college setting seemed natural to me. Other than that, I used my imagination! Obviously I drew from my own experiences in order to make the classroom scenes as authentic as possible. I did do quite a bit of research about psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists to make my villain as real as possible (I hadn't studied them much in school). I also spent a lot of time researching disguises (my villain likes to play with makeup and prosthetics), which was creepy good fun.
Do you use any kind of formula to writing your thrillers? Plotter, pantser, or other?
No formula, other than to revise revise revise! I'm a pantser by nature, but I'd love to be a plotter.
I LOVE thrillers and wish there were more in the YA genre. Would you ever consider writing a YA Thriller?
Oh, definitely! My only concern would be getting the voice right. It's been so long since I was a young adult myself that I worry I'd sound inauthentic, but I would love to write a YA thriller someday.
What advice would you give to a writer interested in trying their hand in the Thriller genre?
I feel a bit unqualified to give advice, but I'll give it my best shot. Read extensively in the genre. Keep your narrative clean and your dialogue snappy. A good thriller is always paced well (and fast), and timelines are usually short. Keep the stakes high, and never, ever lose tension.
Is there anything you can tell us about the sequel that's coming out?
There's so much I'd love to spill, but I'd better not! I'm only on draft two and it's entirely possible that everything will change by the time I hand it over to my editor. I will say this, though: I love villains. And there is no shortage of villains in my next book.
And now for some insanely random questions:
The mountains or the beach?
Tough one! I'd normally say beach… unless it's a choice between the beach and the mountains. So, I’m thinking mountains. The scenery and crisp air would be so inspiring.
I like just about everything, but I could listen to '90's R&B anytime. Brings me back to my high school days!
IT by Stephen King. I love the way he writes children, and the villain – who morphs into whatever/whoever your biggest fear is – scared the crap out of me.
Favorite movie/tv show
Dexter. True Blood. Mad Men.
3 things on your bucket list?
Visit Italy and Greece. Buy a cottage by the lake. Watch Wimbledon live.
Cats or dogs?
I'm a cat person (I have four!), but I've met some pretty cool dogs, too.
Dying with regrets.
Coffee or Tea?
Both! I love coffee in the mornings and tea in the afternoons.
Salts or sweets?
This is a close one, but I'd pick sweets. Chocolate should be its own food group.
Can you lick your elbow? Touch your nose w/your tongue? Cross one eye? Apply lipstick using your bra? J
Oh, hell. I was so sure I could lick my elbow – not even close. Also no to the nose/tongue thing, and a big no to the crossing one eye. As for the lipstick with the bra thing… well, it depends on the bra. ;)
Thank you so much Jennifer for being such a trooper and best of luck and much success in the release of CREEP!!!
Don't forget that Jennifer Hillier's book, CREEP comes out on July 5th from Simon & Schuster! To enter the contest to win your ARC of CREEP, all you have to do is leave your name and either your email address or a link to your blog in the comments section so I can contact you. That's it! Easy, right? Contest ends on Sunday, June 26th and I will use Random.org for selecting the winner. You can get extra entries if you blog about it and tweet about it, but be sure to let me know in the comments that you have done so. Good Luck!!!
Jennifer Hillier was born in Toronto, which is where she spent the first three decades of her life. When her husband was offered a transfer to Seattle, she didn't know which would be worse: leaving Canada or moving to the West coast. She spent her first few months on American soil bemoaning her existence and writing her first novel. Now nicely settled in the Pacific Northwest, the only thing she misses – other than family and friends – is snow.