Welcome today to Jillian Kleine Der Löwe, author of Wicked (Book 1 of the Seven Deadly Sins Series)
1. What do you write about? Tell us a little about your previous published works.
I started making up stories before I even knew how to read or write. As a small child, I would write scripts and get my family and friends to perform them. My dream from when I was about five years old, onwards, was to be a filmmaker. I saw an interview on TV where George Lucas was talking about making Star Wars. Before that, I didn’t realize that there was a whole process that went into making movies. I thought that movies just were… Like that they just popped out of the air fully formed. I knew that making movies was what I wanted to do. I’ve always written Comedy and Fantasy, those are the genres that come most naturally to me. I went to school for film. It was funny because when I was younger people would proclaim to me, my parents and my friends that I was going to be the next Spielberg… Either that or a rockstar… Because I have that twinkle in my eyes. I wrote tons of screenplays and had a hard-time finding reliable people to help me produce my films. So, I kind of put that all on the back-burner and looked for something else to fall-back on. I ended up working with Kim Weiss at HCI Books and I just fell in love with publishing. I was like, I can so do this! I can take my screenplays, turn them into novels and publish them. It’s because of my background in film and being an über extrovert that my books are decidedly dialogue heavy rather than exposition heavy. So, I published Wicked and I’ve not looked back since (although, I’d love to eventually turn the series into a visual format for cable, film, or television)! Before publishing Wicked, I did write for small publications and websites, mostly as a critic of books and films. I also wrote a lot of advertising copy. I even wrote all of my own copy for my website and Amazon sales page.
2. How do you handle bad reviews?
It depends. If the review has constructive criticism, like about formatting or typos, I’m very thankful for that kind of insight and I appreciate the help. I’ll usually e-mail the person and thank them. They’re usually really cool about it and some of them have helped me improve my books formatting and shtuff like that. If there’s no constructive criticism… I usually laugh and get some sort of sick satisfaction out of it. I’m pretty twisted! LOL! I don’t really pay attention to it really. I don’t respond to reviews on Amazon or anything like that, but on blogs (whether the review is good or bad), I try to post a comment and say thank you. Although, if someone e-mails me a negative review directly… I guess it could be referred to as “hate mail” I typically ignore it or just say thank you for your taking the time to review my book and leave it at that. I view hate mail and negative reviews kinda like fan mail in disguise. If my writing was able to provoke a response in someone, good or bad, that’s really saying something about the power of my writing. Yet, most of my reviews and the correspondences I’ve received have been quite positive and I’m thankful for that.
3. Tell us a little about your work in progress?
I’m currently writing Lured, the sequel to Wicked. It’s a bit longer and at times, darker than Wicked. Wicked was very action-packed. There is still action in Lured, but at the same time it’s more introspective for the main characters because they have to come to terms with terrible things that they all did in the past before they can move forward. So, we learn a lot more of the backstory. At the same time, the characters are dealing with unforeseen consequences (good and bad) that have arisen because of the events that took place in Wicked. Lured delves deeper into the whole Shadow Government storyline, which I’m very excited about because it adds a dimension of political intrigue and a bit of a “big brother is watching you” and “trust no one” vibe. This is my chance to poke fun at politics! Huzzah! Lured still has the same kind of twists and turns that Wicked did. I think that the ending will really shock people, maybe even upset them because they’ll really feel for the characters. One thing I’m very excited to talk about is two new characters… Cain (yes, that Cain) and Vlad (as in Dracula). They’re darkly hilarious and very much fun to write.
4. Any advice for aspiring writers?
The best advice anyone ever gave me was this: Write the book you want to read. I believe that this is essential, because that’s how you stay passionate about writing. If you’re not writing about something that you’re passionate about, you can grow tired of it easily. Especially when it comes time for things like revisions. I think this is probably what causes writers block. I’ve always written what I wanted to read and I’ve never ever had writers block. I also use the MBTI to me help create realistic characters. I highly recommend using the MBTI. It’s never failed me.
5. What is your personal writing process?
I put together a music playlist that inspires the moods of the different characters in my stories. I also put together collages with pictures that remind me of the characters, locations, etc. Sometimes, I write journal entries for the different characters, to get a feel for them. I’ll listen to my playlist and just daydream up the whole story, as if I’m watching it on a movie screen. Then I just start writing while my playlist is playing. I also like using the books Astrology for Writers and Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. I use Lo Scarabeo’s Astrological Oracle, Karma Cards and the Mystic Dreamer Tarot. This is so much fun, especially given my chosen genre. It gives a mystical and otherworldly feel to the whole writing process. I also keep notebooks filled with everything you can imagine… Dialogue, journal entries, notes, pictures, etc.
6. Who are a few authors you look up to?
Growing up; I looked up to comedians, filmmakers, producers and screenwriters more than authors. I’ve always been obsessed with BBC comedies. I looked up to Ben Elton, Grant & Naylor, Monty Python, Rowan Atkinson, etc. I grew up on Black Adder, Monty Python, Red Dwarf, the Young Ones, etc. I blame my father… He was the one who got me obsessed with BBC comedies. To this day, every time I see him we end up quoting Monty Python… Especially the Piranha Brothers and Dead Parrot sketches. 🙂
7. What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading A Clash of Kings by GRRM. I recently finished A Game of Thrones and just dove right into Kings. I’m about 200 pages in so far. Epic/High Fantasy is not usually my genre of choice, but I just can’t get enough of A Song of Ice & Fire. My favorite characters are Jaime and Tyrion, because they’re funny. I have a real affinity for the Lannisters. In some respects, they remind me of my own family at times. My husband and I both say that my mother is like the real-life Tywin… Just much funnier, but you’d never want to get on her bad side… Not unless you want to have a stanza devoted to you added to the Rains of Castomere. My last name, Der Löwe, is German for the lion. The lion has been the sigil of my husbands family/house for 800 years. His ancestral seat is Brederode Castle, which is now a ruin, in the Netherlands. His family was, at one point… The largest, most influential, most powerful and wealthiest family in the Netherlands. I jokingly ask my husband why they left… LOL! So, I think it goes without saying why I identify with the Lannisters. Also, I see a lot of parallels in ASOIAF with the War of the Roses. Lannister is to York as Stark is to Lancaster, yo! I’ve always been fascinated with that period in the history of the UK.
8. What inspired you to write your first book?
Honestly, the whole entire Seven Deadly Sins series came to me through mostly dreams that started when I was eleven years old. This has always been a story that I have felt the need to tell. I started writing it in 1995 and set it aside to focus on my schoolwork, since I was sonly 15 at the time. I took it up again after I graduated from college in 2002, but I didn’t end up getting much done at the time because I just ended up partying instead. If a friend called me and was like, “Hey! Let’s go out!” I went out instead of staying at home to write, because I’ve always been a bit of a social animal. Yet, I’ve always come back to this story. It was if, I was the vessel to tell this story. Although, I’ve added a lot of humor into it. The dreams were much more emotastik. After I worked at HCI Books and fell in love with publishing and I saw that other authors had gone indie, I was like, I can so do that too! So, I did it. I write Metaphysical & Visionary Fantasy because it’s more than just entertainment and escapism. These are books that are deeply philosophical and spiritual. Ultimately, I write not only because I want to entertain people… But because I want to help make the world a better place through my writing. What else would you expect from an ENFP such as myself? I see authors as the modern-day prophets and visionaries. Because we have the ability to write well, we have the responsibility to communicate ideas that are ultimately awe-inspiring. Also, I wanted to succeed as an author so that I could pay it forward and help other aspiring authors. I like a nice blend between thought-provoking and insanely funny. Also, there really weren’t many women writing satire. There’s some like Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella, but not many. We women really need to conquer the Satire genre and make it our own! The boys like Christopher Moore, Douglas Adams, Eoin Colfer, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have dominated the genre for so long… It’s time for women to take over! We can add a feminine-aspect and perspective that the genre is currently lacking.
9. What do you find particularly challenging about writing?
My cats! They’re always stealing my chair! And Skittles is so assertive, eccentric, opinionated and talkative for a cat… I believe she takes after me. She’ll sit at my feet and just yell at me while I’m writing. Probably because she wants attention. But I’ll joke around and have conversations with her and put funny words in her mouth. Like… What was that Skittles? You don’t like this bit of the story? Aw, that’s too bad. I totally mess with her and she loves it! She has a whole plethora of meows, so we have real conversations. I say something or ask a question and she responds with a unique meow. My husband and I have counted 50 distinct Skittle meows so far. It also took a long time for me to have enough self-discipline to stay at home and write instead of going out, but I’m so over that. I’m committed to my writing now. But seriously… See, contrary to popular belief I can actually do serious… I find nothing challenging about writing. It comes very naturally to me and it always has.
10. Have you ever used characteristics from someone you know in one of your books?
Characteristics, not so much. The characters are based on my interpretations of the beings from my dreams. I’m also Astral Projecting a lot! So, I’ve worked with some of these spirit energies and tried to get them as true to form as possible and do them some justice… Especially Luc! Some of Luc’s dialogue was derived from energy I’ve received from him while Astral Projecting. Now… Dialogue! OMG! Yes! So much of the dialogue is based on conversations I’ve actually had with my friends! Mostly things that I’ve said… Since, like Sev, I’m verbally incontinent. My husband says that I’m like the real-life Eric Cartmen… No inner monologue. Although, certain things ended up in the story because I wanted to write bits that I knew my best friend Phil would love. I’ve known Phil since high school. We used to sit in class and quote Monty Python back and forth. We drove our photography teacher Mrs. P insane (not that it took much)! Phil is like my untwin. We look nothing alike, but we just get each other. We have the same sense of humor. And certain choice elements of Luc and Michael are both based on my husband. I love my husband! He’s so complex in a beautiful way. There are different aspects to his personality. Sometimes he’s like Luc… Softspoken, tender and warm. And at other times he’s like Michael… A brash alpha male that says things inviting of a smack. It’s funny watching Luc and Michael balance each other out… In the same way that it’s interesting watching my husband balance both aspects of his personality. I love that my husband is inconsistent (despite how infuriating that can be)… He’d be boring otherwise. He keeps me on my toes. He and I are both complete opposites, so I love playing the whole odd-couple angle in stories.
The universe started with a bang… And so does Wicked!
Angels and demons and dragons… Oh my! Earth: it’s the promised land for Kin, beings from the Astral Planes. Some, beings of light. Others, the Fallen, beings of unimaginable evil… Seven Cyn, a confident and empowered modern woman, is Kin and a CIA Operative. With her best friend Leon in tow, she flies to Wales in pursuit of an ancient relic, the Spear of Destiny. Then throw the enigmatic Luc into the mix as he and Sev discover a love that defies the stars. Yet, there is a catch… Sev has been tasked with ending his life. Along with a twisted pixie named Ace, they uncover the location of the Spear and end up in a race against time with the survival of the whole entire Universe left hanging in the balance in a battle between good verses evil. This unlikely odd-coupled menagerie comes up against a shadow government run by Dark Entities and Fallen Angels possessing mortal souls. Will Sev unlock the secrets of the Spear in time to avert universal disaster or will the Universe fall into utter darkness? Has Sev finally bitten off more than she can chew? Filled with believable characters and injected with a heaping dose of sarcasm and wit… And just as many twists and turns; Wicked promises not to disappoint. This lighthearted energetic, fast-paced romp will certainly open your mind and tickle your funny bone. Wicked is kinda like this… Take satirical chick lit… Place that in a contemporary fantasy setting… And then throw in the Apocalypse just for good measure. That’s Wicked! And That + Wicked = Awesome!
Wicked is filled with all of the no-holds-barred thrills of your average adventure. Be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat as you are transported into the depths of a rich and dark fantasy world not unlike that of your own, but with a few unique and dynamic twists. Take a globe trotting trek into a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Wicked has enough pulse pounding chases, fights, heists, shadow government conspiracy theories and treasure hunts to appeal to not only die-hard fantasy fans; but your average adventure enthusiast. Be prepared for the wild high-flying ride of your life. And just hope that the good guys win.
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