Sunday, September 13, 2015


Today, THE FREE CHOICE E-ZINE is proud to welcome author JILLY PADDOCK. Let's start by talking about your latest release, Dead Men Rise Up Never.
Jilly, drawn by Morgan Fitzsimons
JILLY PADDOCK: Dead Men is an SF novel about Detective-Inspector A. Afton Lamont and her partner, Jerome, who live and work in Prosperity City, once the site of the first settlement on a middle-tech level colony world a long way from Earth. Afton is a career cop, known for her cynicism and hard-bitten attitude, and Jerome isn’t quite human; both of them have dark secrets hidden in their past. They work in Homicide and usually land cases with a big helping of mystery or the weird. When a man is killed by a unicorn in the city streets and the creature turns back into a shaggy white pony with a tin-plate horn in the cruel light of day, Afton and Jerome are handed the problem.
Dead Men Rise Up Never was published by Pro Se Press in August 2015 and is available as an e-book and in print from Amazon worldwide.

TFCE: Now, the title would suggest that this is a crime/detective/noir novel, but the story is actually so much more. How did this project come about?
JILLY: I first wrote about Afton and Jerome in a short story, "Blind Witness", which will be included in the Tommy Hancock benefit anthology, Legends of New Pulp Fiction, due to come out from Airship 27 later this year.
I wanted a pair of SF detectives who walked the streets of a slightly alien world, and after that first tale I wrote several more. The characters grew and meandered off in directions that I hadn’t intended, and a little of the supernatural seeped in, although I tried to hold it down to magical realism and a smattering of minor psychic powers. Dead Men had been half written for some time while I struggled with the identity of the killer—the characters wouldn’t tell me whodunnit! When I worked it out, I finished it. It has all my favourite ingredients—nature and ecology, poetry, painting and sculpture, and an AI who wears a cute fairy body as one of her avatars. Pro Se had already agreed to publish it, and as it was a fairly short novel, we added a bonus short story about our weary heroes getting drunk. And it has a lovely cover, by the very talented Adam Shaw.

TFCE: So, have any of those other Afton/Jerome tales been published?
JILLY: Although Blind Witness was the first Afton and Jerome story that I wrote, the origin of their partnership is told in "The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone" which is currently only available as a self-published novella in e-book. Pro Se will be bringing this out too sometime soon. This time Afton and Jerome have to find a kidnapped child, the daughter of the Terran ambassador to their world, and are helped by a ‘spook’, an agent from Terrapol with psionic powers. She’s actually an agent-pair from Earth Intelligence, who are the baddies from my other series of books.

TFCE: Sounds like fun. Why do you write what you do?
JILLY: It never occurred to me to write anything other than SF/Fantasy, because that’s what I read. Why would you limit yourself to everyday life and the real world? I can use aliens, spaceships, strange worlds and invented technology—the trick is to make it believable with grounded characters that the reader can relate to.

TFCE: From what, if anything, do you draw inspiration when writing?
JILLY: Not an easy question to answer, as little things can trigger an idea—an image, a handful of words from a song or a poem, or simply a feeling. Inspiration comes to me often when I’m walking or driving, and sometimes a whole story will drop into my head, or the characters will start talking to me, telling me their history. I need to write it down to clear space in my mind.

TFCE: Has anything influenced your actual writing style and technique?
JILLY: I read a lot of SF and fantasy from an early age—Heinlein, Asimov, Tolkien, plus loads of British writers like James White, John Wyndham and Tanith Lee—so I have multiple influences. I’d like to be compared with my two favourite writers, Cordwainer Smith and Peter S. Beagle, but I have my own voice. Sometimes when I’m reading, I’ll notice a technique that seems interesting and maybe try it. The Afton and Jerome stories are written in present tense, which I know some people dislike; I did too when I first encountered it, but I tried it and it seems to work, giving the text an immediacy that suits the tales well.

TFCE: Do you find it difficult being a female author in what many consider a male dominated field, or does this give you an advantage your contemporaries don't have?
Jilly, from her Amazon author page
JILLY: I come from a line of strong women. My paternal grandmother drove a car, wore trousers and ran a sweet-shop, all of which were uncommon things for women to do in Britain in the 1930s. I never met her, as she died long before I was born, but my father says that I look very like her. My maternal grandmother, who lived in India, once found a cobra in her dining room and killed it with the stiletto heel of her shoe.
As a child, I had Lego, a train set and Scalextrix (a toy racing car track) as well as dolls and teddy bears, and my father knitted toys and made clothes for us, so I’d never really encountered any gender boundaries until I got to senior school and my headmistress—she was so old-fashioned that she wore a gown and mortar board all the time—told me that “Girls don’t do science”. She made it very difficult by timetabling all the sciences against each other, so I had to do Chemistry and Physics at night school. I worked in medical research for a few years, then spent the rest of my career in NHS microbiology labs, so I did prove the woman wrong.
I have come across some sexism in real life. When I tell people I’m a writer they ask “Do you write romance or children’s books?”, and when I say “No, science fiction.” they stare at me as if I’ve got two heads.
I guess I’ve been lucky, as I’ve never had such a negative reaction from publishers or other writers—in fact I’ve had a lot of support and help. My SF is of the softer variety—you won’t find three pages of mathematical proof in the middle of one of my books—so I thought I’d appeal more to female readers, but I have a lot of male fans, which is great. New Pulp is even more male dominated than SF, a bit of a boy’s club, but Pro Se also has Nancy Hansen and Nikki Nelson-Hicks among their ranks of women writers, so I’m in good company.

TFCE: As a writer, what would be your dream project?
JILLY: My dream was to have a book published—nobody took the bait, so I did it myself in 2012. Then Pro Se Press brought out To Die A Stranger and even kept my chosen cover (I fell in love with the painting and bought it from the artist years ago—it hangs on my wall) so my dream came true. Everything else is just chocolate frosting on the cake!

TFCE: Where do you foresee yourself within the next few years?
JILLY: I retired from the day job four years ago and I recently had a scary-numbered birthday, so I’m slowing down a bit. I’d like to get more of the Zenith-Alpha 4013 books out there, so fans of the series can find out what happens to Anna and Zenni. It would be nice to do more conventions, and as my sister lives just outside Washington DC, maybe I could do a US con one day.

TFCE: As a writer, I'm sure this is far from your first interview. Has there ever been an interview question you have not been asked but would love to answer, and if so, what is it and your response?
JILLY: If you’ve ever watched Inside the Actor’s Studio, there’s a set of ten questions that James Lipton asks, taken from a French series, ‘Bouillon de Culture’ hosted by Bernard Pivot. It may be too long to include, but just for fun, as I know I’ll never get on that TV show, I’ll give my answers to it here.
What is your favourite word? Serendipity.
What is your least favourite word? Tapeworm (I really don’t like parasites!)
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Countryside, especially the gentle wooded hills of South East England where I grew up.
What turns you off? Cutting down trees or forests, and otherwise spoiling the landscape.
What is your favourite curse word? I’m fond of ‘f*ck’, but only use it when necessary and appropriate for the character I'm writing. I'll understand if you have to censor that response.
What sound or noise do you love? A cat purring.
What sound or noise do you hate? Nails scraped down a blackboard.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I’d have loved to work for NASA on one of their unmanned probe projects.
What profession would you not like to do? Working down a sewer.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Come on in, Jilly, and do have some cake,” but it has to be in Oliver Postgate’s voice (he narrated Bagpuss and The Clangers, United Kingdom children’s shows which you can find on YouTube.

TFCE: Since you have the opportunity, are there any other projects you would like to promote?
JILLY: To Die A Stranger is already out and its sequel, With Amber Tears, will be coming very soon. I’m just waiting on the cover, as the galleys are nearing completion.
I have a very long space opera with gorgeous aliens (well, I think they’re gorgeous, but I admit that I’m biased and I do like spiders!) and another very engaging AI about to come out from 18thWall Productions. It will appear in twoWarbird: Voidship.
volumes, due to length, and the first is called
Finally, I’d like to give a shout out for Airship 27’s Legends of New Pulp Fiction, the benefit anthology for my publisher, Tommy Hancock. You know it’s for a good cause and it’ll be stuffed full of New Pulp deliciousness, so look out for it and buy it when it comes out.

TFCE: Well, sounds like you have quite a lot going on. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.
JILLY: Thank you! It's always a pleasure. My blog is at 

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