Cuppa and a Catch Up – An Author Interview with… Joyce Strand

SUNDAY 03rd MARCH 2013

Cuppa and a Catch up pic

I would like to wish a warm welcome to the lovely Joyce Strand, author of the Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries.

040erinkatephoto~Author Bio ~

Mystery author Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products. Joyce received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA She currently lives in Southern California with her two cats, a collection of cow statuary and art, and her muse, the roadrunner.

~OPEN MEETINGS~Open Meetings Cover

Jillian Hillcrest returns as a PR Executive to join with a local Silicon Valley reporter who is uneasy about the supposed DUI death of an informant. He solicits Jillian’s help along with that of her neighbor, a retired police officer, to look into events in his hometown north of the Napa/Sonoma wine country. Jillian’s ex-husband grows more and more certain he wants to re-marry her.  OPEN MEETINGS was inspired by a network of criminal ex- and current police officers in the broader San Francisco Bay Area.

On Message Cover4web~ON MESSAGE~

Murder intrudes on PR Executive Jillian Hillcrest’s routine as head communications executive at a small Silicon Valley biotechnology company. She is eagerly staying on message to inform investors, the media and the community about her company and its products. When someone near to her is murdered, a determined San Francisco police inspector involves her in the investigation, convinced she is key to solving the crime. She co-operates fully only to find that solving a murder is more hazardous than writing press releases. On Message is the first in the Jillian Hillcrest mystery series. As with all the novels in this series, it was inspired by a real California case.

Now take a sip of that lovely cuppa as we catch up with Joyce Strand…

Hi Joyce and welcome! It’s great to have you here.

Where did the inspiration behind The Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries come from?

Jillian Hillcrest mysteries originated in response to two years of my unemployment with little prospect of finding a job. My husband—who was probably tired of seeing me mope around—said “Why don’t you write a book?”

I created Jillian Hillcrest—an idealized Silicon Valley public relations executive albeit with flaws—stemming from my 25+ years as a public relations professional at several Silicon Valley high tech and biotech companies. Jillian is drawn into mysteries because I love mysteries and solving their puzzles.

The plots of the mysteries are inspired by real California cases. ON MESSAGE is based on the murder of a retired biotech executive. OPEN MEETINGS evolved from a case in the San Francisco area of a network of retired/current cops gone awry.

How would you compare writing this book with anything that you have previously written?Open Meetings Cover

Fiction is much, much, much, much more fun to write than press releases! (although there are many who might claim that most press releases are fiction). In my career as a public relations professional I drafted hundreds of press releases, ghost-wrote dozens of published technical and tutorial articles, prepared oodles of white papers, fact sheets, SEC documentation, scripts, briefing papers, and lots of other business type documents. It is true that writing these materials was always my most favorite part of my job. But writing mysteries is exhilarating compared to writing marketing documents.

How did you start writing? Was there a particular book or moment in your life that spurred you on?

I always have enjoyed writing. I remember in the 7th grade when offered the option of taking an essay or multiple choice test in an American history class, I immediately chose essay. In high school and college, I always opted to write papers and do independent studies. My first job was to write brochures for a high tech company. Writing seemed natural to me.

Of course, since I excelled at writing, I always wished I could be an artist. I can’t draw even a stick figure to look like anything.

I’m the same – I would love to be able to draw but I too struggle with a stick figure.

On Message Cover4webHow do you organize your writing time?

Organize? I’m not sure I’d call my writing “organized”.  By the time I sit down to write my books, I know three things: (1) opening chapter (2) crime to be committed (3) who the guilty one is.  Then it’s “just do it”.  Jillian and her cronies do guide me through the process, with the killer sometimes getting the upper hand. I even leave much of my research until I’ve completed a first draft.

When I start my first draft, I allow me to write just when I feel like it. If the book gets stalled, then I give myself a goal, typically number of words that need to be completed every day.  I write multiple drafts based on input from a group of test readers. When I’ve got a book as good as I think I can make it, I send it to a professional editor. And that results in yet another draft – which of course we proof and proof and proof.

Where is your best ‘writing space’; the place where you feel comfortably locked away from the world and able to let your creative juices flow?

I love to write at my grandmother’s antique desk looking out to our front yard—but perhaps not for the best reasons. There is always plenty of action there to help me procrastinate. The geckos scamper up and down the walls. The birds splash in the little bird bath. The humming birds buzz around the flowers.  Fortunately, my muse, the roadrunner, dashes through the yard occassionally chastizing everyone to leave me alone, and I get back to work.

And finally, tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know

Well, many people know that I love Broadway musicals and live theater. What they might not know is that I acted in several plays in high school and college – including as Audrey the country wench in As You Like It. I find acting thrilling, and would happily return to it if possible.

 Thank you for being here today Joyce!

~Where to find Joyce Strand~





Book trailer (ON MESSAGE):

Twitter: @JoyceTStrand

Purchase sites –

On Message

On Message Cover4web



Open Meetings

Open Meetings Cover



 Love Missuswolf xxx

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