This week we're sitting down to chat with Jillian Ward (aka Lucy Pepperdine), author of the upcoming horror tale Offshore.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today. For those who haven't yet had a chance to enjoy your work as Lucy, or who have yet to check out Offshore, please tell us a little about yourself and what we can expect.
My name is Jillian Ward, I stay in Old Aberdeen, Scotland and I write horror stories. I first began writing 9 years ago after moving over the border from England. I had chucked in the 9-5 rat race and settled on Royal Deeside where I started my writing career penning your every day contemporary romances, but decided to stretch myself a little by dipping my toes into different genres – horror and paranormal romance, using a pen name, Lucy Pepperdine. To my amazement I found I enjoyed writing them much more than the romances and since I’ve moved to Aberdeen I’m finding myself more and more inspired to get down and dirty in the Granite City.
Q: The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and what has the journey to publication been like?
I actually began writing at school. I won prizes for my essays, but I really only began writing seriously 9 years ago when I took (very) early retirement and moved to Scotland. My first novel, a contemporary romance, was picked up by Taylor Street (now folded) as was the sequel, Keeping Christopher. Other stories were self published while awaiting the yay or nay, except On the Fly, a saucy romp down the riverbank which was only ever intended as a bit of fun and never submitted. When Taylor Street folded I was lucky enough for Thorstruck Press to consider Offshore worthy of a punt and hope I can do them proud. All in all the journey has been a bit of a roller coaster, lots of ups but also quite a few downs. Here’s to the next up!
Q: In terms of writing, what comes easiest for you, and where do you struggle the most? Is it the title? The first paragraph? The last chapter? The cover blurb?
The easiest part is starting. The first scene pops into my head and I take it and run with it, making it the core around which every other part is built, adding to it like links in a chain. The struggle comes with leaving the damned thing alone when it’s supposed to be finished. I’m a perfectionist. The slightest typo, a clunky sentence, a comma out of place, drives me batty. I shall probably have to come back and edit this interview because I’ll see something I’m not happy with.
Q: Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated, especially when developing a series that touches on multiple genres. Were there any twists or turns in your writing that surprised you, or really challenged your original plans for the story?
The real challenge in Offshore was trying to convey to the reader in words and mental pictures what a truly awful place an oil rig in the North Sea can be – cold, windy, wet, miserable, dangerous, and how tough the workers have to be to cope with the conditions whilst retaining a sense of humour. I hope that came across okay.
Q: I can imagine that being a difficult scene to set. When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?
A lot of people would say it doesn't matter if you get things wrong in a story because it’s fiction and ‘anything goes’. Not always so. There are always someone who will take issue, so while I try to write a story that I would want to read, I keep those particular readers in the back of my mind while writing and do a LOT of research to make sure I get my facts right. Although I never got to go to an oil rig to research Offshore – not that I didn't try! – I gathered a lot of information / stories / experiences from real oil workers.
Q: In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've encountered to -date?
For my contemporary romance, the oddest reaction was from one reader who claimed the story was an ‘abuser’s charter’ and a ‘guidebook to being an enabler’. Obviously they hadn't understood the story AT ALL. Other reactions have been mostly favorable, the best being from one reader who liked the story so much she demanded –demanded! – a sequel, which I duly supplied.
Q: To turn from pen to page for a moment, is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who just refreshes your literary batteries?
Scottish crime writer Stuart MacBride. He didn't influence or inspire the content of my writing, but he did influence a change in my style of writing – the use of short sharp sentences, sometimes only one word; the use of interruptions in dialogue, people talking over one another, the addition of accents etc.
Q: Assuming you had total creative control over the production, who would you cast as the leading roles, were your work to be optioned for the big screen?
I could go all clichéd and say someone like Bruce Willis for the action hero, but to be honest I wouldn't have a clue. I can see it all inside my head and can picture every nuance of every character, but could not link any specific actor with any particular part, and with the current crop of shiny youthfuls doing the rounds, it would be slim pickings (no pun intended) If Offshore ever makes it to an AUDIO presentation however, I know EXACTLY who I want to be the reader.
Q: Before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there another story yet to be told in your latest world, or perhaps something completely different on the horizon?
No more stories from the North Sea, unless I can do something with the Northlink ferry to Shetland, but I have two more land based stories on the backburner at the moment. Both are past NaNoWriMo winners. Junction 13, a drama set on a fictitious stretch of motorway at the scene of a horrendous crash, and Deep Down Dead, set in Aberdeen, the story of a retired cop turned crime scene cleaner who faces terrors and obstacles as he hunts for a missing colleague. Both have a lot of work ahead yet but watch this space.
Both sounds interesting, but I'd have to give Deep Down Dead the edge. Thanks for joining us!
About the Author
A former Medical/MedicoLegal secretary, she gave up the 9-5 rat race to pursue a writing career inspired by her locale and the people around her. A good move as it turns out because it has yielded nine books so far, ranging from contemporary romance to psychological drama and raunchy riverside romps, to the gut wrenching horror of OFFSHORE under the pen-name Lucy Pepperdine.
When Jillian is not writing she cares for her home and family, and takes long walks in the parks and on the beach with her dog, her writing buddy and constant companion, Wee Archie. Jillian is also an avid supporter of and fund raiser for military charities Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.
About the Book
by Lucy Pepperdine
Nine people, eight men and one woman, are assigned to Falcon Bravo, a decommissioned oil rig 250 miles out in the North Sea, to undertake routine maintenance.
Isolated they may be, but they are not alone. Something is trapped down in a sub-level fabrication shop, starved almost to the brink of death. Salvation comes in the form of an unsuspecting crew member, who provides the creature with its first proper meal - himself.
Once released from his accidental incarceration, the ancient Euterich, now in the form of the crew member he has absorbed, seeks only escape, until he develops an obsessive desire for the lone female, paramedic Lydia.
He wants this woman for himself, but she has eyes only for team leader Eddie Capstan. Euterich begins to moves through the rest of the crew, taking each one’s place in turn, eliminating the competition until the final stage when he can ‘become’ Eddie and claim his prize.
When he is caught in the act of feeding on one of the crew members, Euterich knows the game is up and it is only a matter of time before he is hunted down and killed. Now the demonic shapeshifter has only one desperate objective in mind - to perpetuate his kind while he still can.
He kidnaps and rapes Lydia, and has almost succeeded in wiping out the rest of the crew when his own end comes.
For Lydia and the other survivors one more deadly challenge lies ahead - making and surviving their escape from the rig.