Today I’m thrilled to have Jillianne Hamilton on the blog, sharing some insights into her writing process as part of her Molly Miranda, Thief for Hire blog tour.
I’ve started writing approximately 200 different novels in my life. Maybe more.
Ever since I was a kid, a story idea would pop into my wee little head and I’d throw some words down as fast as I could. And then I’d get another idea and put my last idea on hold as I threw down a chapter or two of my new, fabulous, much better and exciting idea.
And then I would get another idea. And another. And another.
This kept happening to me until I was 25 years old. I know my situation isn’t unique. What writer doesn’t love starting a new project that seems full of wonder and promise?
Just as some people find their true loves, I found my premise very unexpectedly. I was looking for a book that filled three simple criteria:
- Funny. I’ve always had a soft spot for humor. Funny books, movies, TV shows, music—that stuff is my jam!
- Female protagonist. I don’t know why, I just prefer reading from a female’s perspective. Come to think of it, I rarely read books starring a male character.
- Action/adventure. Particularly with a badass protagonist. Maybe even a character that bends the rules to get what they want.
And I couldn’t find anything. I was kind of surprised.
If a publisher wasn’t going to make this book available to me, I’d just have to write it myself.
(Note: Since my book hunt back in late 2012/early 2013, a few people have suggested books that come close to meeting those three requirements but by then I was already head first into writing my book. No turning back.)
I decided I wanted my character to be a professional criminal. That kind of job would allow for lots of conflict and fun scenes to write. I originally considered making her an assassin but thought it might be too difficult to make her likeable and keep the humor going.
By making Molly a thief of high price items, I kept her somewhat innocent. Her crime doesn’t hurt anyone and she only steals from people who can afford to be stolen from. This helps keep her likeable to the reader. I gave her a team of people to assist in her crimes—a contractor who sets up her job assignments, a crooked accountant and a few others readers meet along the way.
I did a ton of research on theft, burglars and read a lot of books on the subject. Bill Mason’s book Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief was incredibly helpful.
I got about a third of the way in and got stuck. For so long, I assumed I was “pansters” and not an outliner. I liked my characters and my premise so much that I knew I had to finish the book, no matter what. This. This was the book I was meant to write and finish. I read a couple of books on doing outlines. The book that really helped me was KM Weiland’s book Outlining Your Novel. It really got me over the hump. I outlined the rest of the book, basically started over and went at it again.
I finished the first draft about a year after starting it. I wish I could say I wrote it faster than that but I usually only write on weekends because I feel fried during evenings after my 9-5 job. (I intend to work on this in 2015.)
But I finished it. I finished it because I cared about it enough to not let go of it. Sure, I have other story ideas but they are just tucked away for now.
Molly Miranda and I? We’ve got work to do.