Saturday, August 8, 2020

Q&A with Jill Orr

Jill Orr is the author of the new mystery novel The Full Scoop, the fourth in her Riley Ellison series, which also includes The Bad Break and The Ugly Scoop. She lives in Columbia, Missouri.

Q: In this fourth installment of your Riley Ellison series, Riley tackles the mystery of what happened to her grandfather--a theme that's run through the previous novels. Why did you decide to focus on the resolution of this crime in The Full Scoop?

A: You know, it's funny: I am not someone who outlines or plots my books, but the one thing I have always known about this series was what happened to Riley's grandfather. I knew it from the beginning, so in many ways I have been waiting to tell this part of the story since book one! 

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, "A shift in tone produces something a little more murderous but a little less fun." Do you think there was a shift in tone from the previous three books?

A: I feel like it's half right... there is definitely a shift in tone. The plot of this book necessarily wades into some darker waters, and provides Riley with the opportunity she's been seeking to find her grandfather's killer. But it doesn't come easily and she has to do a lot of soul-searching about what she's willing to do to find the responsible party.

I take a slight issue with the "less fun" assessment, though! I mean, I guess it depends on your idea of fun, right? I think dedicated readers of the series know how deep these issues run for Riley and would have objected had I let her breeze through this experience. Though, I fully admit it is a bit weightier than the other books - hopefully it brings with it some satisfaction as well. 

Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Riley and her friend/colleague Holman?

A: I think it's evolved over time into something like a brother/sister relationship. They have a deep fondness for one another and trust each other implicitly, but they also bicker a lot. I think Holman drives Riley nuts sometimes, and Holman is puzzled by some of Riley's emotional reactions. Ultimately, though, I think of them as best friends. 

Q: How are your books' titles chosen?

A: The decision on a book's title is a collaborative process between me and my editor. I make a suggestion and then we talk about whether or not it fits. If not, we will brainstorm till we find something we both like.

I think that's often how it goes with a smaller publisher, whereas at the larger houses I think more people weigh-in on those sorts of decisions. I personally love the collaborative feel at Prospect Park Books!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I actually have a nonfiction book coming out in November! It's a gift book called How Not To Be Old (Even If You Are) and it takes an irreverent look at aging and generational politics. And it's illustrated! 

I don't mind saying it was probably the most fun I've ever had writing a book. It's a complete departure from mystery writing and fiction writing in general, but it was really fun.

I started out my writing career with a column in a local magazine writing personal humor essays about parenting. So this kind of project, while new, felt really comfortable for me. We see it as the kind of book you'd pick up for a birthday gift or little hostess gift -- it's small, cute, and hopefully will put a smile on people's faces!

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Can't think of anything! Thanks so much for having me on the site for another Q&A! 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Jill Orr.

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