I was recently approached by Jillian Bullock regarding her memoir, Here I Stand. She asked me if I’d be willing to read and review it for her. With my recent increase in editing jobs, I almost declined. But, I checked it out on Amazon (it looked interesting) and I agreed. I almost missed out on one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t have learned just how multi-talented Jillian is.
I am going to post my review of Here I Stand on Thursday of this week (don’t miss it), but for today, I was able to chat with Jillian.
IDI – Jillian, wow! If I had to use only one word to describe Here I Stand, I don’t know what it would be. Raw comes to mind. I’ve read so many memoirs that embellish, sensationalize, but even more, are selective in which stories to tell. What I liked most about your book is your absolute candor, even when the incident or story being told didn’t reflect favorably on you. I don’t want to give anything away for those who many not have read it, but will say, it was worth every minute spent reading.
A little about you. When did you know you were born to be a writer?
JB – Thank you very much. As for when I knew, I was in grade school and I won a short story contest. It validated my writing at such a young age. I won $25. I was a paid writer. Yeah!
IDI – How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?
JB – Much growth. For some years, I had stopped reading novels because I was so focused on my writing as a screenwriter. But within the past two years, I have buckled down and started reading tons of books on everything, mainly novels. I’ve also started back to college recently to obtain a master’s degree in English. This year I completed my first novel through discipline of writing six to eight hours a day. A few years ago, I never would have been able to do that. I didn’t have the focus or discipline, and I had a lot of stress in my life that hindered my writing.
IDI – I can relate to the lack of focus and discipline. Stress is my nemesis, also.
How long does it generally take you to write a book, from the spark of an idea to the finished product?
JB – To write my memoir, Here I Stand, that was published in 2012, it took me six years from start to publishing. For my novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, that I completed in 2015, it took me two months. I participated in the National Novel Writing Month Contest. For November 1-30, 2015 writers are challenged to write at least 50,000 words of their novel. In 30 days, I wrote 52,3000 words. By the end of December 2015, I had written 70,000 words.
IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?
JB – My first novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, is a crime thriller. I will start the editing and revision phase in a month.
An excerpt from the book –
With the intense sun beating down and the sound of church bells ringing, Jennifer Tigger immediately grabbed her head with her left hand and squinted her eyes trying her best to focus. When she pulled her hand away, she noticed dry blood. Jennifer looked down at her right hand and saw a bloody butcher knife. Disoriented, Jennifer squinted her eyes tighter as the church bells grew louder and the hammering inside her head made her feel like plunging that knife in her head to relieve so such pain. Migraines plagued Jennifer since she was in college. When she got them, she couldn’t function well at all; completely debilitating.
As Jennifer groaned in agony trying to make sense of where she was and why she had a bloody knife in her hand, she stumbled forward and tripped over a man’s dead body that had blood on his shirt and a gaping knife wound in his chest. What the hell? Jennifer thought.
IDI – Aside from the book you’re working on, what other projects do you have in the works?
JB – I am in pre-production on a movie titled A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, which deals with the military and post-traumatic stress disorder. I wrote the screenplay and will direct in the fall of 2016.
IDI – That’s quite a schedule and work load.
What is the kindest comment/compliment you have ever received from a fan regarding your work?
JB – One fan told me she had been going through a difficult time and was depressed. She said after reading my memoir, Here I Stand, it saved her life. To know my words and my life story touched someone so profoundly was amazing.
IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.
JB – For my novel, I had to do tons of research first since the main character, Jennifer Tigger, is a forensic and criminal psychologist, who is also a recovering drug and sex addict. Then I did the outline of the book and detailed descriptions of the main characters. I had a few different endings in mind, so I wrote those down. Then I started writing. I tried not to edit while I wrote, but sometimes that was difficult when the paragraph didn’t make much sense. Once I hit 70,000 words and had a book I was happy with, I handed the book off to my best friend, Delayne Powe, who has read hundreds of novels, especially crime novels. She knows what sounds right and what rings false. Once she gave me the okay to keep going, I finished the novel at 85,000 words. In January 2016, I will start the editing and revision process. Once I finish this step, it will be time to hand the book off to a professional editor. Revisions, revisions and more revisions. With Here I Stand, I self-published. With Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, I plan to go with traditional publishing.
IDI – Favorite author, and why?
JB – I love many different authors, but Dennis Lehane is my favorite. The way he writes each book I am consumed by the characters. His writing pulls me in and I don’t want to stop reading. His writing is fresh, crisp, exciting, colorful, and vivid. Being a screenwriter and filmmaker, I can visualize his books as movies.
IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?
JB – Yes.
- I am a former competitive martial artist and boxer, who holds two black belts – one in Wing Chun and the other in Tae Kwon Do. I currently train in mixed martial arts, so usually my protagonist in my writings do train in MMA.
- When I was in college, I was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
- Since 2006, I have been a screenwriting judge for the Set in Philadelphia Screenwriting Contest, which is sponsored annually by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.
IDI – Jillian, why do you write?
JB – It helps to clear my head of everything. I get lost in another world and it’s an amazing feeling knowing I’m creating something that hopefully will bring great joy to others.
IDI – Last question. What are you plans for the next two years?
JB – Well,
To complete my novel Sunny Days, Bloody Nights and to get an agent and a publishing deal.
To complete filming of my independent movie, A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, hit the film festivals, and get a distribution deal. Then go into production on my next project – Listen To What The Dead Are Saying.
To self-publish my first fitness book titled – Fitness Between The Sheets.
To get a major studio to greenlight my memoir Here I Stand and to attach the “right” producer or director to come on board with me as the screenwriter and a co-producer. I have had offers from a few producers who wanted to option or buy the rights to my life story, but I want to be involved in the process and not just hand over my story. So, I have to be patient and find the right fit.
IDI – You are one busy woman! Jillian, thank you for talking with me and sharing your story. It’s one book that has left an indelible mark on me. I wish you all of the luck and success in the world. Somehow, I believe you will leave your mark on many people. Please keep me updated as to the completion of your new projects.
JB – Thank you for having me and I certainly will.
You can learn more about Jillian and her work at the links below and don’t forget, this Thursday you can read my review of Here I Stand, the mesmerizing memoir by Jillian.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jillian.bullock.5
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JillianBullock
Website – www.jillianbullockwriter.com
k.e.garvey (formerly known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies, The Red Strokes, and Missouri in a Suitcase, (the latter written under the pen name Nova Scott)