Today is a little bit different than our usual Sunday post. Today we get the chance to know more about the lady behind the Philly Corruption series – Jillian Quinn!
But first, let’s see if the synopsis can put you in the mood…
Now, I have to hold on to my review for a few more days, you will know all about my experience with Corrupt Me on Wednesday, 18th. In the meantime, I had fun chatting with Jillian about herself, her books and her characters. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it!
First things first: can you describe yourself in three words? Choose wisely!
Jillian: Smart, sarcastic and strong.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I bowled semi-professionally while I was in college, even had full scholarship offers, but that all ended when I hurt my hand. The tendonitis still bothers me today and that was over twelve years ago. I also bowled a 295 out of a perfect 300 game before I retired from the game.
The reason I wrote my hockey romance novel, Parker, and the female lead, Coach (Charlotte), the way I did is because I could relate to having a sports injury that ended my career and had to figure out what to do next. Coach has to deal with the same thing, and when she meets Alex Parker, a life with him could threaten the dream she rebuilt. Many elements of my second novel were inspired by my own life.
Now, let’s dig a little. What would your perfect date look like?
My idea of a perfect date is not what most women would want. I am a major tomboy. My favorite pair of pants are these hideous black and orange Flyers pajama pants. I love them, everyone tells me how awful they are, and I don’t care. I wear them with pride. My basketball jerseys that I have in frames are also my other favorite piece of clothing, except I will never wear them. I have jerseys I will wear outside and then I have collector’s editions in the frames.
Sports and writing are my life, and even sports come before writing most days. I would want to go to either a hockey game or basketball game for my ideal date. My ex even bought me courtside tickets to see the Los Angeles Lakers play the last year Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson were together, which was probably the greatest day of my life because Kobe Bryant looked me in the eye on the way into the locker room and slapped my hand. I even took a picture of my hand after he smacked it. A few other players slapped my hand as well, and I just about passed out in the Wells Fargo Center.
The way to my heart is through sports not diamonds or food. I could care less about either of those things. My ideal date is the one I depicted in Corrupt Me where Luca takes Izzie to Tony Luke’s, which is my favorite steak place in Philly. Izzie even orders my favorite meal from there. I went on a very similar date years ago where the guy I was dating showed up at my house with a Phillies baseball jersey and picked me up for the game. We had awesome seats, the Phillies won, and then we ate the same food Izzie and Luca ate in Luca’s Mercedes, except that guy drove a truck and he wasn’t Luca.
Bottom line, any man that understands my love of sports is worthy of my time. I will not date someone who does not like sports.
Izzie and Luca, the two main characters in Corrupt Me, have strong personalities, something that makes things ever so interesting. For the sake of this question, let’s be simplistic and general: what is the personality treat you hate in men? In women?
I hate weak men and women, and by that, I mean passive or submissive. Neither of those are appealing traits. I would never want to read a book about characters with either of those traits. My characters will always be strong and more on the aggressive side.
I like to know a lot about the characters I read about, it helps me feel closer to them. I crave details. If Izzie and Luca were alcohol, what kind would each of them be?
Izzie is classy yet unrefined, crude but sometimes sweet. When I think of Izzie and her firecracker personality, she’s most definitely a 50 year old Scotch. She’s wealthy, smart, and when it comes to men and life, she knows what she wants, even if she does make Luca sweat it out.
I honestly thought Luca needed someone to put him in his place, which is why I went the direction I did with their story. A man has to earn your attention, and if he fails to do so, then he does not deserve your time. Also, Izzie is a lot like me in terms of personality, and when I think of myself, I think of strong alcohol not a wine cooler.
I love Luca. When I started to write Luca’s character, I wanted to write my dream man, and I did exactly what I set out to do. And I fall in love with Luca all over again every time I read the epilogue. Like a Long Island Iced Tea, you have no idea what’s inside, but once you take a sip, you realize there’s a little bit of everything and that’s why a Long Island Iced Tea is perfect for Luca. At first, he seems like the typical frat boy womanizer, but as the story unfolds, you see the real Luca, and I know many readers also fell in love with him, the same way I did because of his hidden characteristics.
Books are important, I am sure you agree. You can learn a lot about someone by the stories they pick. What’s on your characters’ nightstands?
Luca would have Total Frat Move on his nightstand. I own and have read that book, and I thought it was hilarious. Total Frat Move is a book about fraternity initiation, told from the fictionalized POV of a guy who was in a fraternity, that I read in one sitting because I could not stop laughing. I love reading the articles from their website. Some of the stories are not only interesting but also funny.
Because I have known my fair share of frat bros, I had no problem writing about them, and I think I captured the boys I once knew perfectly in Corrupt Me. I have always had mostly male friends, which is another reason I felt so comfortable writing from the male POV. The things men say in groups make for perfect writing material.
Izzie would probably have Crime and Punishment on her nightstand. Given how the story ends and how Izzie’s personality develops throughout the books, I believe this is a perfect choice and that readers will understand why I chose this book for Izzie.
Corrupt Me deals with love, a forbidden and hot one. What drove you to this genre?
I never thought I would write a romance novel until I finished the first draft of Divine Powers. My mom read it and said it had a lot of romance and she thought I was sending her a fantasy. That’s when I realized romance is a genre I am comfortable writing because the romantic scenes between the characters were so natural for me to write.
I started to write Corrupt Me while I was waiting for my editor to send back Divine Powers after binge watching Goodfellas and The Godfather movies. I am obsessed with mafia and crime shows and movies. I cannot get enough of them. My favorite TV shows are The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and Breaking Bad. I have watched Breaking Bad more than six times in its entirety and the same goes for The Sopranos. I believe I’m at three times for Boardwalk Empire. My favorite movies are The Godfather (part one, of course) and Goodfellas, both of which I have watched somewhere close to one hundred times.
Add to the fact I always wanted to date a made man and writing a Mafia romance just seemed like the right choice. I used to see all the Mafia guys in the Philadelphia Inquirer when I was younger, and I won’t say his name but one of the former bosses of the Philly Mafia was kind of a babe.
Romance only is not my cup of tea. My favorite thing about the book, apart from the characters, is the mafia plot you added. What came first, the love story or the mafia story?
The love story came first. Originally, Izzie was in a sorority and her father was an FBI agent, which is a completely different story than what you read in Corrupt Me. Agent Marx’s character was inspired by who I originally had in mind for Izzie’s father. Her dad’s name was always Robert Marx and at one time, Izzie was actually Lizzie Marx. (Shocking, right?) That just goes to show how much of a transformation this book had over the course of my editing process.
You will see more of Agent Marx in my bonus ebook for newsletter subscribers. The book is called The Corruption Files, and you will get to see how the FBI planned out their case against the Marcheses and even read stories about the crimes of the Marchese and Rinaldi families that are told from each family member’s POV. If you want to get inside the mind of Angelo Rinaldi III, you will see why Grandfather is so cold and closed off and why his family allied with the Philadelphia crime family. I’m exposing all of their truths. Sign up for my Bad Boy Mafia newsletter and find out the stories you are missing. (sign up here!)
I always knew that Luca was a Mafia prince and part of this notorious family, so his character was clear from the start. I first saw Izzie as being on the wrong side of the law with both of their fathers pulling them apart, but I didn’t like the version of Izzie I wrote in the first draft. I deleted about 40,000 words and almost started from scratch because Izzie wasn’t right.
I have a degree in law and I was thinking about how holding companies worked the one day, though I’m not really sure why. I believe I was watching a movie, which made me think that what they were describing in the movie was not legally accurate. From there, I had this idea to make Izzie’s family more powerful than Luca’s as the owners of Rinaldi Holdings. Where the Rinaldis have power through money and connections, the Marcheses have power through fear and intimidation. I thought the two made for very formidable opponents, which is why it made sense for them to team up.
How has your experience in writing and publishing Corrupt Me been? What have you learned from it?
Despite all the articles I have read over the past year, I had no idea how hard it is to publish a novel. Even as a book blogger, I wasn’t entirely prepared for it. I never saw myself going the traditional route for very long, but I also had no clue how much work was involved until I announced a release date for Corrupt Me. All my favorite authors, with the exception of Stephen King and John Grisham, are all indie authors who published on their own. Because of this, I always thought I would end up going that route. I only sent out a handful of query letters to agents before I grew tired of researching and writing the letters.
One thing people do not realize is that self-publishing is a business, and as author, you are a brand and your books are the product of that brand. You need a website, a logo that matches your brand, promotional materials, and a ton of other things that you need in place in advance. You also need to network with bloggers and readers. As a blogger, I already had friends who wanted to read my book, but I had to find readers who also wanted to try out a book from a new author. I found help with that on Facebook and now I have an ARC Mafia.
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of self-publishing, and if done right, it can work to your advantage. But it is a lot of work and it never ends. Corrupt Me goes on sale on Tuesday, and I am nowhere near done, especially with another book coming out in February. The work does not stop just because the book is published.
Bonus question: I’m in Philadephia for 24 hours, where should I go?
If you’re in Philly for the day, you have to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The reason why Izzie loves it there is because I do as well. Structurally and architecturally, it is one of the most incredible buildings in the entire city. Even if you’re not Catholic, I would still recommend the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul because it is beautiful both inside and out.
I would also send you to the Franklin Institute, which is a science museum down the street from the art museum. You can climb inside of a beating human heart, which I always thought was cool when I was a kid and still do now. I am too tall to fit inside though. They also have cool exhibits you can pay a fee to visit. Did I forget to mention I am a closet science nerd? Other than English, science was always one of my favorite subjects.
Philly is famous for cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, and water ice. I would send you to Tony Lukes for a chicken Parm sandwich, but my favorite cheesesteak place is not Geno’s or Pat’s. I think of both of those places are tourist traps, and the wait in line does not substantiate eating a sloppy Cheez Whiz steak that will fall onto your shoes while standing on the corner of a busy street. My favorite cheesesteak is from a eat-in/take-out restaurant called Gino’s Pizza in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philly. It’s a bit of a hike from the art museum, but it is definitely worth the drive.
You would also have to visit the Philadelphia Pretzel factory for the best soft pretzels you will ever taste. The original location is down the street from Gino’s Pizza. Then, I’d send you to Rita’s Italian Ice, but everyone from Philly just calls it Rita’s Water Ice. They make water ice that is similar to Italian ice, and it has real fruit blended inside on a daily basis. They also serve Philly soft pretzels there.
For the best hoagie in Philly, you would have to stop by Primo’s Hoagies. Known for their custom Italian hoagies, they make the best hoagie you will ever taste. Primos’s is a chain that started to branch out, and I was lucky that when I moved to Florida that a Primo’s and Philly Pretzel Factory had opened in the same shopping center down here in Naples, Florida.
If you were in Philly and I was showing you around, I’d also take you to the places I mentioned in Corrupt Me that inspired some of the scenery. I would take you to the exact location of where I based the fictional University, Strickland University, so you could see where Broad Street Beans is actually located in my mind. I would be your Philly tour guide. I would also take you to the Italian restaurant that inspired Francesca’s Brick Oven Pizza, the restaurant the Marchese family owns in Corrupt Me. So many readers have mentioned the pizza scene in the book and blamed me for why they were hungry.
Pietro’s Pizza at 5th and South Streets inspired both Luciano’s Ristorante and Francesca’s Brick Oven Pizza. They make the most amazing pizza I have ever tasted, and just like in Corrupt Me, they use real pepperoni and not that packaged greasy stuff most places use.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer those questions, Jill. Now I need to find a Long Island Iced Tea and get a ticket to Philly!
You’ll find more information on Jill and the tour below. Don’t forget to check the blog on Wednesday for my review of Corrupt Me!