Jill Starling is an author to watch! Her debut novel, St. Agnes Place, is told through the eyes of Shawnsy Stevens, a newly-divorced thirty-something who finds herself accepting a job at St. Agnes’; a place of hope and recovery for young women who are trying to leave the street life. There she meets Leelee, Keisha, Amy, Vicky and Rain. Each of these women has a story to tell, as they struggle to fight their personal struggles. Each of the women encounters unexpected news and setbacks, but ultimately recognizes the healing power of forgiveness. In a climactic end, they make choices that set the course for the rest of their lives.
St. Agnes’ Place is a place where love greets you at the door.
So what’s your writing process like? Do you outline or are you a pantser?
I am definitely a pantser, I only write when the Spirit moves me to write. He doesn’t move me everyday, but I know when He does I will be on a roll.
St. Agnes Place is your first novel. What are some of the things you’ve learned as a debut author?
Some of the major things I learned are that promotion is work, and takes up a lot of time. Also, the length of time it takes to write a novel is always longer than you think.
Do you like social media? How important do you think they are to an author’s career?
I LOVE social media! Today, as writers we are blessed to have avenues such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram (which I have to sign up for). Through social media, I have been able to share my writing with so many wonderful people, that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to meet. I think it is imperative that an author self promote, and connect with people on a personal level. There are so many things hitting people all at once in the mainstream media, that when an author connects one on one on a social network an intimacy develops that will likely draw that person to read your book.
You’ve gotten a chance to connect with a few of your readers. Which do you prefer, book signings or book clubs?
Oh, that’s a tough one! I truly love them both! I love book signings for the simple fact that I get to share my excitement about my novel with those who haven’t read it. However, at book clubs everyone has already read my novel, which leads to some very interesting discussions. I get to sit in the "hot seat" and answer all their questions, as if we were talking about real people. Both of them, are like icing on the cake for a writer.
What has been your experience with self-publishing?
My experience with self-publishing has been wonderful! The story lines and characters I create are mine, no one is changing them, or making them into something that they deem as marketable for today’s society. I also have a great editor, and an insightful group of first readers that pave the way to making everything come together. I published through Amazon’s CreateSpace, which has been a Godsend in helping me achieve my dreams, and they have been incredible to work with.
You’ve received great reviews for your book! Has this helped build your confidence as you work on your next book? Or do you feel more pressure to please your readers?
I am incredibly grateful that readers embraced St. Agnes’ Place. Good reviews, are always confidence building, but I understand everyone has preferences, and my style my not be someone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. My next novel, At this Moment, is character driven, as well, so hopefully the same readers who enjoyed St. Agnes’ Place will also enjoy my upcoming novel. I believe that when a reader connects with the character it catches them, and makes them want to keep reading. Of course, I’m praying for sophomore success, and I remind myself to concentrate on the joy of the journey.
What made you want to become a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer ever since I was a young girl, and started reading Judy Blume’s books. Her stories had a profound affect on me, the main characters weren’t pretty or popular but "real people" overcoming obstacles. I wanted to be able to touch people through writing in the same way she did. The time became right for me as my two sons grew into teenagers, and were less dependent on me.
Now on to the hair! Your hair looks so healthy and beautiful! What do you do to maintain it?
Thank you, I have naturally curly hair. I usually blow it out, and I always finish it off with hair serum to help eliminate the frizz.
Which celebrity would you switch hair with?
I have to honestly say, Katrina, your hair is looking mighty fine. I wouldn’t mind having it! I also love Beyonce’s many styles. I wouldn’t mind having one of her many coiffures.
What has been your worst hair experience?
Oh my gosh, this can be a book! My whole childhood, and adolescent was one really bad hair day. I’m talking short, frizzy Italian hair, a giant Brillo pad to say the least! The good news is, now I am happy with my curls! I learned how to tame them, and how to straighten them. Those bad hair days, are now a thing of the past, lol!
I want to thank Jill for stopping by and discussing her debut novel, St. Agnes Place! (And also for the shout-out about my hair! Thanks my friend!!) If you haven’t picked up her novel, then what are you waiting for? Click here to order your copy today! Want more of Jill? Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, and keep checking her website for updates about her next novel.