Saturday, June 24, 2017

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Good Byline by Jill Orr (Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! I hope you're having a good weekend so far! For today, we are featuring an intriguing debut about a library assistant who enjoys reading obituaries. It is quirky and so fresh. I'm interviewing Jill about The Good Byline! Stick around for the special giveaway at the end. :)

For an extra point, you could answer any of these questions: Have you ever tried reading the obituary section before? Have you read anything interesting in it?

What do you feel about scoring a three-book deal?
I was thrilled of course! I had the deal for THE GOOD BYLINE first, but my agent had told my editor that the book was planned as a series. Then a couple of months before BYLINE came out, Prospect Park Books made an offer on the next two in the series! It was such a great vote of confidence!

Since you have three books, are all the stories aligned and planned at this point? How do you outline for a three-book story?
I have a general plan for each book before I start writing and an overarching series plan. So in each book there will be a "stand alone murder" but the main character, Riley, will also be working toward solving the mysterious death of her grandfather. This mystery will unfold bit by bit in each book. For better or worse, I'm not a big planner, but I do at least know a few things going into the writing process.

From your first draft, was Riley always a library assistant? Did her character change throughout various revisions and drafts?
She was always a library assistant, but she definitely changed in other ways as I got to know her better. Because my original spark for her character was someone who was obsessed with obituaries, I thought she was going to be this dark, snarky, melancholy young woman. But as I learned more about real life "obituary enthusiasts" (yes, the exist!) I realized the reading the obits is one of the most life-affirming pursuits out there. People who read obits of people they've never met do so in order to see what made a person's life worth living and what they can learn from someone else's life story. It's pretty sweet, really. So Riley ended up becoming far more optimistic, hopeful, and romantic as I wrote her - which surprised me!

While reading and researching about people enthusiastic and interested about obituaries, did you encounter something interesting?
Oh yes! The most interesting thing about this subculture of people are into obituaries, is that they have their own chat rooms and even their own conferences! There's a book I've read and re-read as research for my own writing called LIFE ON THE DEATH BEAT: LOST SOULS AND LUCKY STIFFS by Marilyn Johnson and it's filled with stories about obituaries and the people who love them. It's fantastic, quirky little book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this subject.

Did you encounter problems while writing the first book, The Good Byline? What are these and why?
Oh I think there are always "problems." Like every other writer on the planet, I have those days where I am certain everything I've written is complete crap and I should just give up and go live in a cave. I also wrote THE GOOD BYLINE before I had an agent or a publisher, so I had no idea if anyone would ever read it, like it, buy it, etc. But those things are all par for the course. I think it's part of the process, albeit not such a fun part, it's also what helps make it so fun when you fight through all of that and make it to the other side.

What is your favorite line from the book? Why did you choose this?
"It was the kind of night that made everything sparkle with possibility... even me." I chose this line because I think this is when we see a glimmer of Riley's emotional growth begin peek through. She's pretty hard on herself and has been in something of a slump when the book opens, so here when we get to see her open herself up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, it's all going to be okay - well, I like that!

Thank you, Jill!

Photo credit: Stephanie Atkinson Photography
About the Author:

Jill Orr lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband and two children. She writes humor essays about parenting on her blog, An Exercise in Narcissism. The Good Byline is her first novel in the Riley Ellison mysteries series and was released in April 2017 from Prospect Park Books. Book two (title TBD) will be out Spring 2018!

Find Jill: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Book Description:

Paperback, 280 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Prospect Park Books

"Who knew obituaries could be this much fun?"
— Gretchen Archer, USA TODAY–bestselling author of the Davis Way Crime Capers

Meet Riley Ellison, a quirky young library assistant who has become known in her hometown of Tuttle Corner, Virginia, as Riley Bless-Her-Heart. Riley’s odd habit of living vicariously through people she reads about in the obituary pages hits a little too close to home when she is asked to write one for her childhood best friend, Jordan James. Jordan's unexpected suicide has left Riley desperate to understand why a young woman with so much to live for would suddenly opt out, so she steps out of her comfort zone and into the role of obituary writer.

Things get messy, however, when Jordan’s co-worker, a paranoid reporter with a penchant for conspiracy theories, convinces Riley that Jordan’s death was no suicide. He leads her down a dangerous path toward organized crime, secret lovers, and suspicious taco trucks. Eventually, Riley’s serpentine hunt for the truth leads to a discovery that puts everything she holds dear—her job, the people she loves, and even her life—in danger. Will writing this obituary be the death of her?


Thanks to Jill for sponsoring this giveaway!
Copy of The Good Byline
Scope: US and CA
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