Sunday, February 5, 2017

ROCCO welcomes Jill Amadio!

My guest this week author Jill Amadio!


Like Tosca Trevant, the amateur sleuth in her crime series, Jill Amadio hails from St. Ives, Cornwall but is nowhere near as grumpy or unwittingly hilarious as her character. She is a true crime and thriller ghostwriter, and was a reporter in Spain, Thailand, Colombia and the United States.  She writes a monthly column for the UK-based MysteryPeople ezine, and freelances for My Cornwall magazine. She is a member of Crime Writers Association (UK), Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild. She lives in Southern California where it hardly ever rains, much to Tosca Trevant’s annoyance.



R:  Welcome Jill! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.


Thanks ROCCO! I am from a small fishing village, St. Ives, in Cornwall. I won all the writing contests at school. My dream was to become a newspaper reporter. I moved to London at age 18 and got a job on a national newspaper, The Sunday Dispatch, as a newsroom ‘general dogsbody’ (copy girl it is called here). I handled all the mail for our Agony Column, advice for the lovelorn. I married an American in Spain and wrote for the Spanish-American courier. We moved to Bogota, Colombia, where I freelanced. Then Bangkok, where I worked for the Bangkok Post as feature writer, reporter, and lifestyles editor. 


I moved to the States and was a reporter for Gannett Newspapers then travel writer and also wrote a syndicated automotive column. I moved to California when offered a job with a magazine as their auto editor. In addition I freelanced doing PR for Rolls-Royce West Coast, The British Royal Mint, and Range Rover.


R: Tell us about the Tosca Trevant mysteries.  How did the idea for that come about?


A client hired me to ghostwrite a crime novel and gave me mostly free rein. I created a series character, a forensics accountant, hoping we could continue with additional books but the client was happy just to have her name on one. I became interested in the genre as a long-time Christie fan and joined Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. I took creative writing classes and attended writers’ conferences to learn as much as possible about the genre and the publishing industry.


My books are traditional mysteries. To create my series character, Tosca Trevant, I base some of her experiences on my own. She’s a Cornishwoman, a newspaper columnist covering the royal family and of course discovers a scandal. She is re-assigned to America.  The setting is Newport Beach. As her name suggests she is a lover of opera and a bit grumpy because of culture shock - few teashops, a lack of rain. Tosca’s natural nosiness leads her discover a body in a neighbor’s yard after she decides weeding is required. She digs up some bones. With the help of a new friend, a retired Secret Service Agent, she solves the crime using her knowledge of music as clues. Opera and classical music is a recurring theme.


R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?


I was rejected by around 35 agents. I knew the big publishers only accepted agented work so I tried small presses which one can contact directly. I fell in love with the second name on the list, Mainly Murder Press. Their web site declared in big black letters, NO SUBMISSIONS UNTIL LATE SPRING. It was only January. I wrote immediately with a query saying, “I live in southern California and it is already late spring here. The roses are in bloom.” To my delight I received a reply within an hour asking for chapters and within a week I had a three-book deal. There was no advance but everything else was standard – 15% royalties and all of the business side of the deal taken care of by the publisher. I was tremendously thrilled that finally I’d be a published mystery writer.


R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?


Having worked in a few crazy newsrooms when typewriters were the norm and phones rang loudly and constantly I learned to block out noise. Now, I prefer solitude but at airports and other crowded places I manage to retreat into Tosca’s world. At home I play classical music all day. To aid my writing process I re-read the previous chapter, or pick up one I’d left off in the middle. Sometimes re-reading the research on various points gets me back into the groove. I am an early riser an start writing around 7 a.m. If it goes well I work until 3 p.m. If not, I read, watch TV, or go for a walk.


R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?


I’d travel back to the 1920s and 30s, the flapper days, Bloomsbury, and when poets and writers still struggled but seemed to be more cherished. I love art deco, Aubrey Beardsley, Somerset Maugham, the fashions, and a more sane world, at least until the rise of the Third Reich.  


R:  If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?


I’d choose the first book in the series, “Digging Too Deep,” and I’d pick Emma Thompson for the lead role. She has a quirky sense of humor and dry delivery with which I try to endow Tosca. Or Tracy Ullman. Tosca’s sidekick, Thatch MacAuley, is gorgeous – wish he were real! I’d pick Scottish actor Iain Glen to play him.


R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?


I narrate audiobooks, a late calling for me but one which I decided would be fun to pursue. A few radio hosts remarked during book talks that I had a nice radio voice and did I do voice overs? I had no idea what it meant but they said I’d love it.  I checked it out, trained, and now do radio commercials documentaries, and books. I haven’t narrated my own – yet.


R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 


Fly to Vientiane, Laos at the end of the Vietnam War to interview an ex-prisoner of war. Anything could have happened to the small plane as there were still pockets of resistances. Plus, I had three children at home.


R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?


To have an entertaining, humorous read laced with learning about poisons, plants, musical instruments, composers, evil people, and murder, and how it feels to be plopped into a new country despite speaking the same language.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a pantser. I write a one-para outline, then a lengthier one, about two pages, then chuck it. I find that if I just sit down and write with a general idea, the stuff shows up. I make up the elements – characteristics, settings, plots already roughly decided upon-  as I go along although I carry through the main characters. My favourite pastimes are research and re-writing the first two or three drafts.

R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?

My websites are, and My books, paperback and eBook, are on and in some bookstores. My World War II biography of a fighter ace is also on amazon as an eBook ( now part of a BBC documentary) , as is a story titled, “Farang,” about a Thai peasant dealing with G.Is. My voice over site is with samples. Or Google my name.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?


Key up your passion for writing and keep it high. Read everything – not just in your genre. Non-fiction, especially memoirs, can give you ideas for creating characters and settings. Observe the world, write a note when a person’s voice or their demeanor catch your eye. Everyone has their own style of writing, no need to copy someone else’s. Some noir crime novelists emulate Raymond Chandler but he’s the master. Join organizations in your genre to exchange knowledge, ideas, and become inspired. Write for their newsletters. Offer to be a beta reader or first editor. Write articles for local papers and writers’ magazines. Hang out with writers. Be persistent and persevere. If you love writing and want to be published passionately enough you’ll make it happen.


 Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Day.

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Love ‘em all.

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Salad

Favorite Drink?  Red wine

Favorite Book?  The Human Factor, Graham Greene

Favorite TV Series?  Ancient Aliens

Favorite Movie?  Dr. Zhivago

Favorite Actor: Stephen Fry

Favorite Actress: Vivien Leigh

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Agatha Christie

If I had just one wish, it would be to blink myself to travel around the world..

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be  No one!

Thank you Jill!  Jill will give a copy of  Digging Up the Dead and Digging Too Deep to one lucky commenter!  Leave your name and email addy in the comments section below. For extra entries, you can:

Follow the Human (Toni Lotempio) on Facebook
Follow moi on Twitter @RoccoBlogger
Post about this contest on Facebook
Post about this contest/interview on Twitter or your own blog

You will get one extra entry for each.  Let us know what you've done in your post so we can give you credit! Winner selected at random by  Contest ends midnight February 11. Good luck.
US entries only please.




  1. What a fascinating story-line and interview! From what I have seen on TV and pictures of Cornwall, it is beautiful. I just love the "It's Spring here in California" ploy! I am anxious to read this series, and so glad that Jill is getting credit for her work,(Ghosting must be frustrating.)
    Best of luckto her.
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  2. Nice interview. I love your "how I found my publisher" story. It sounds like a dream match!

  3. This series sounds like a perfect read. I will be looking for these books.
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  4. These world travelers are impressive.
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  5. Thanks for introducing me to a new author, Rocco. Jill's books sound like great reads and I would really enjoy reading the books.
    Following and shared on Facebook, subscribed to your blog, following on Twitter and also tweeted.

  6. Thanks for introducing me to a new author, Rocco. Jill's books sound like great reads and I would really enjoy reading the books.
    Following and shared on Facebook, subscribed to your blog, following on Twitter and also tweeted.

  7. Have to add these to my to read list. Thanks for the giveaway. Becca Cook

  8. Emma Thompson is a great choice to play Tosca.
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