Please give a rousing Mysteristas welcome to Jill Orr, author of the Riley Ellison Mysteries!
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
For reasons that will probably buy some therapist a beach house one day, I seem to continually revisit that time of life just after college, when we’ve got one foot in adulthood and one foot in late adolescence. There is something beautiful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful to me about that in-between time. It’s when we try figure out who we are going to be, what we want from life, and what we’re willing to do to get it. So much richness for character development there!
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I’d describe Riley as is one-part Hermione Granger, one-part Elizabeth Bennet, and one-part Tina Fey.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Agatha Christine, JK Rowling, Janet Evanovich, Alan Bradley, Liane Moriarity, and Maria Semple.
Tell us a bit about your new book.
The Bad Break is the second in the Riley Ellison mysteries, though it stands alone as a self-contained mystery. The book opens when a local cardiologist is found dead and Riley is tasked with writing his obituary for the local newspaper. When it is revealed that the good doctor was murdered (and may not have been so good after all) Riley ends up covering the murder investigation as well. Feeling a bit in over her head, Riley reluctantly enrolls in a 30 day free trial of bestmillenniallife.com, “a life coaching service by millennials, for millennials.” Will her new life coach’s pop culture-fortune cookie-song lyric wisdom help her solve the case? No. No, it won’t. But it will hopefully make you laugh and luckily, Riley is smart and determined and has a few tricks up her sleeve to get the job done on her own.
What do you think makes a good story?
For me, the best stories center around character. I figure if I’m going to spend 300 pages with someone, I want to feel invested. I don’t always have to like them or be rooting for them to get what they’re after, but I do have to care about what happens to them. Everything else is secondary to that – genre, plot, setting. If I am genuinely interested in the characters in a story, I could read about them doing almost anything. And not-so-surprisingly, that’s also how I write. When I begin a new project, it always starts with character!
Jill Orr is the author of the Riley Ellison mystery series. She lives in Columbia, Missouri with her husband and two children. The Bad Break is her second novel.