MA: Today I’m joined by Madness and Murder author, Jen Hilborne. Jen was born in England and currently lives in Southern California. As a dual citizen, she spends a good deal of time traveling back and forth between the two. Those long rides in coach have given her the perfect opportunity to develop many ideas for her stories. Jen began writing her first novel in 2007, an idea originally stemming from the competitive real estate world, and the industry she’s worked in for many years. Real estate work must be a cut-throat industry if it has inspired you to write murder mysteries. How did you make the jump between the two?
JH: Once I get started in a story, I can’t seem to stop. I can’t get it all down in a short story or a novella. I blame it on my verbal diarrhea.
MA: So, tell us about Madness and Murder and No Alibi.
JH: Madness and Murder, my first book, is set in San Francisco and features homicide Detective, Mac Jackson, who is on a collision course with a civilian as he hunts a cunning killer. Jackson questions his own ethics when he risks an innocent life to catch his killer. No Alibi, also set in San Francisco, is a tangled tale of deceit, murder and betrayal.
The two murder mysteries are not linked. My third novel, not yet released, is the second in the Jackson series.
MA: Do you craft your protagonists after real people you know?
JH: I base all my main characters on real life people with notable, interesting personalities, then fictionalize to make them my own. They are tenacious and willing to risk their own lives to stop the bad things in their world. They don’t always know the right way to handle danger and can often get in the way. I root for the underdog in my stories – no one person is better than anyone else and my hero/heroine is a reminder of this.
MA: And the antagonists? Perhaps a fellow traveler who snored too loudly on one of those long transatlantic flights?
JH: The bad guy is always based on a real life person, someone from my past or the past of someone close to me. It’s therapeutic to see them get their comeuppance.
MA: (Chuckling). Well, I hope not to offend you in any way! I take it, then, that with real people inspiring your character development, that you’ve allowed real life experiences to infiltrate your plots?
JH: Absolutely, which makes the stories so much more authentic.
MA: What’s next?
JH: My third mystery novel is complete and I am working on the fourth. For a change, I moved out of San Francisco for my fourth novel and set it in England, my homeland. I plan to write more Jackson stories as many readers asked for his return after reading Madness and Murder.
MA: Will you bring any characters from the first few books back to life in future works?
JH: Other than Jackson, I haven’t decided on which characters to bring back. I listen to feedback from my readers, which helps in the decision, but I also often don’t know what I’ll write until I sit down to do it.