Q&A with author Jilliane Hoffman @jillianehoffman #killerfest15

Your name: Jilliane Hoffman

Tell us about yourself: I was born and raised on Long Island, just outside New York City. I left NY after law school to take a position with the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office in Miami as an assistant state attorney. I was a felony criminal prosecutor for five years in Miami, and then the Regional Legal Counsel for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for another five before leaving to write my first thriller, Retribution, which is the first in the CJ Townsend series. I have written five other thrillers to date: Last Witness (a CJ Townsend thriller), Plea of Insanity, Pretty Little Things and The Cutting Room (the final instalment in the Cupid/CJ Townsend thrillogy).  My novels are inspired by the criminal cases that I have investigated and prosecuted.

Tell us about your latest book: My latest is a standalone thriller entitled All the Little Pieces.

Pretty, sweet Faith Saunders lives a quiet, unassuming life that from the outside looking in, most people would find enviable. She is a loving wife, mom, sister, daughter. She owns a cupcake bakery with her best friend that is thriving, her handsome husband is a rising star at his law firm and they do well financially, and Faith herself is well respected in the small South Florida community in which she lives and works.

But Faith’s unassuming, enviable life is about to change.

Driving home from her sister’s late at night in the middle of a violent rainstorm, with her four- year-old daughter asleep in the backseat, Faith makes a wrong turn and gets lost in the maze of rural roads that wind through the sugar cane fields of Central Florida. Mentally exhausted, running low on gas and missing her cell phone, she pulls over to wait for the worst of the storm to pass and unintentionally dozes off.

She awakens in a nightmare.

A distraught young woman is banging on her window for help. Behind her is a nefarious stranger dressed all in black. In a split second Faith must make a decision that will affect all of their lives forever.

I don’t like to give too much away about my thrillers, because I really try to write in lots of twists and turns and I hope that every chapter leaves my readers gasping for breath and frantically turning pages to start the next one. So I am intentionally vague. Suffice it to say, this is just the intro to All the Little Pieces: the roller coaster ride starts after Faith makes her decision.

When did you start writing? I quit my job with FDLE in 2001 to write my first thriller, Retribution. Inspired by a serial rapist I prosecuted with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the premise for Retribution was conceived in the courtroom and ultimately developed into a full-blown idea for a novel during my career with FDLE. I had to get it out on paper and it was hard to balance a full- time job in law enforcement, being a mom to two little girls and trying my hand at writing a novel.  So I quit my job and concentrated on excising that great, complicated, thrilling plot out of my head. After Retribution’s success, I just kept on writing, as I said earlier, inspired by the many cases I worked and criminals I encountered in my ten years in law enforcement.

Where do you write? Everywhere. I have a laptop, so I generally start out at my local coffee shop, Brew, order a skinny vanilla latte and settle in for a few hours. When I am home, I head for the dining room, although I have an office upstairs.

Which other authors do you admire? I love John Grisham, Thomas Harris, Ann Rule, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Gillian Flynn, Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter, Nelson DeMille, Jeffrey Deaver, Stephen King and John Le Carre. I like novels that keep you up all night, flipping pages, and when you are finished you can’t turn off the light because you are too scared. I also love novels where you learn a little about something you didn’t know: diseases, conditions, ailments, psychology.

Book you wished you’d written? The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. It’s one of my favourites. I love the plot and I love the writing style. Another book would be Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, a true crime novel that reads like a fictional thriller.

Greatest fictional criminal: Hannibal Lecter

Greatest crime or criminal from the real world: Great question. There are some twisted, twisted serial killers that I would not use the word ‘greatest’ to describe, like Ted Bundy, Dennis Radar, Gary Ridgeway. I think they might get the vote for most revolting and possibly intriguing criminals, though. I would love to climb inside their heads and see what makes them think the way they do. I don’t admire them, though, just to be clear.

What scares you? Unlocked doors. Sociopaths. Terrorists. Having worked in law enforcement for so long I know what people are capable of and I have seen the damage first hand. There are a lot of things and situations that raise the hair on my neck. All I’ll say is: lock the door, set the alarm, check your rear view and don’t walk alone at night. It’s always better to prevent a crime then clean up the aftermath.

Are you ever disturbed by your own imagination? Surprisingly, no. But I have been told I should be.

3 crime books you would recommend to EVERYONE:

Do you listen to music when you write? Yes. Classic rock, alternative rock and hard rock, which my daughter used to say, ‘scares me, Mommy’, when she was young. And that comment was just about the beat—I wouldn’t let her listen to the lyrics! But I only break out THAT music while I am writing certain scenes.

Are you on social media? I am, but I’m no Kardashian. I don’t tweet or post much. Drives my teenagers NUTS. I think they think it’s a sign I am old, which I am not, but the reality is, I don’t like to put too much of myself out there in public view. I tried to teach my kids that, too. In fact I wrote Pretty Little Things to scare them off Facebook at thirteen. It worked.  And then there was Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and a host of other social media sites.

How can fans connect with you? The best way to contact me is to send me an email through my website, www.jillianehoffman.com. I try to get back to everyone and I love to hear feedback.

Other Articles

Author Interview | Claire Kendal on I Spy

I Spy cleverly mixes elements of the psychological thriller with elements of the spy novel. What made you want to join those two genres together, and how difficult was it? The novel’s shout line is You don’t see me, but I see you. I think this really plays… Read More

Guest post by Stella Duffy, author of Money in the Morgue.

Stella Duffy on growing up in New Zealand, her feminist father, and why she’s pleased Money in the Morgue will be published on International Women’s Day…        Stella Duffy photographed by Gino Sprio   I grew up in Tokoroa, a small town in New Zealand. We moved… Read More

Rachel Sargeant on her gripping psychological thriller The Perfect Neighbours

Rising star Rachel Sargeant talks about her new novel, The Perfect Neighbours, a dark and twisty psychological thriller with an ending you won’t see coming… When Helen moves abroad with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to meet her fellow expat teachers from the local International School. But… Read More