Presenting... THE BUTCHER mass market paperback cover!

Woo hoo!

The paperback will be out February 24, 2015!  Pre-orders are a great way to start the new year!

Speaking of which, HAPPY NEW YEAR! *throws confetti*

* * *

A really amazing thing happened over the weekend

I snapped this pic last Saturday, November 1st:

37.5 weeks pregnant

And this happened on Sunday, November 2nd:

It's a boy! Welcome to the word, Maddox John.

There are no words to describe it really, except to say that yes, it's all I dreamed it would be.

* * *

Baby brain, fast cars, and Halloween

I'm on the last lap of my pregnancy (less than three weeks to go, unless the baby decides to come early), and am pretty much running on fumes these days. I'm trying desperately to finish the first draft of my current book, and I honestly thought that I could write at the pace I usually do... but I totally underestimated how tired you can get just from SITTING and THINKING while in your third trimester. Like, wow. Six-hour writing shifts now feel like twelve-hour writing shifts, because frankly, my back can't take it, and neither can my brain, which seriously feels like it's shrinking the closer I get to my due date.

The biggest challenge of being pregnant while writing is that it's really fucking hard to kill people. Chelsea Cain told me last summer that she wrote her first thriller, HEARTSICK, while pregnant, and that the experience was great for her (and if you've read her books, then you know how dark and gory her stuff is). She told me to use all the hormones I was plagued with and channel them into my work, and while I've been trying to do that, it's not quite working out for me the way it did for her. I do have these crazy, vivid, violent dreams at night, but for some reason, it's not translating to the writing. I haven't killed or tortured nearly as many people in this book as in the first three, and as a writer of psychological thrillers, that sucks donkey balls.

The problem is, I get emotional now. I get weepy. A few weeks ago, driving home from a doctor's appointment, I cried listening to Tracy Chapman's "Fast Cars" on the radio. I've heard that song like a million times over the last two decades, but for some reason, I found myself carefully listening to the lyrics, and then I started crying. "Don't go with him, girl!" I said out loud as I stopped at a red light, my hands clinging to the steering wheel. "Don't be seduced by the fast car! He doesn't have a job! You have your whole life ahead of you!" It was pathetic, and so not me, and I hate that I get weepy over stupid shit, and that I don't feel at all like myself right now.


I want murderous Jenny back, the girl who'll gleefully chop your hand off with a cleaver and not think twice about it. But I don't know where that girl is. And like I said, that sucks donkey balls.

I was challenged by a friend the other day to cartoon myself... and this is what I came up with! Because a cleaver looks good on everybody.

At this point I've figured out that I'll probably have to go back and murder people in rewrites, and that's okay. All good writing is rewriting (and I forget who said that, because remember, my brain is shrinking).

Speaking of the new book, I should have exciting news to share soon, so stay tuned!

Also, it's Halloween! GO SCARE SOMEONE! (Because God knows I can't do it.)

Throwback Halloween pic. Me at age 9. Because clowns are scary.

* * *


Tids and bits

A couple of cool things happened this week:

CBS Local (all 24 CBS markets!) did a roundup of "Dark and Twisted Thrillers for Fans of GONE GIRL", and THE BUTCHER was one of the six they selected!



and...

My post on the Insecure Writer's Support Group went live today! I talk about writer's conferences and why they intimidate me.

Happy Wednesday!

* * *

Nothing like the first time

The most fun I ever had writing a book was before I was published. And I'm not referring to CREEP, which was my debut novel. I'm talking about the book I wrote before CREEP. The really, really bad one. The trunk novel.

I started writing it in July 2007. I finished it in October 2007. It was over 400 pages long and something like 128,000 words. It was completely shitty. Everything about it was shitty. Even the title was shitty. It was about a guy who buys an old house and discovers it's haunted, and oh, guess what, the whole neighborhood's haunted, too.

I made every mistake a newbie novelist makes. Characters were waking up from dreams constantly. I head-hopped. I switched between past and present tense, sometimes in the same paragraph. I used terrible, unnecessary dialogue tags. ("Stop," he croaked. "Make me," she purred). There were long chapters where absolutely nothing happened. 

But oh, was it ever fun to write.

I had no expectations going into it. I wasn't worried about deadlines. I wasn't worried about anybody reading it. I wasn't even thinking about getting published - I knew next to nothing about the publishing industry. All I had was an idea and a lot of time (nothing much was happening in my life at all during that period), and my only goal was to prove to myself that I could commit to finishing a novel-length story. In the past, I had started countless novels that I'd never come close to finishing. I wanted to finish this one. And so I wrote, every day, without fear or judgement. Without panic. Without thinking, even a little bit, about where it might end up.

I haven't written that way since. It's a luxury I'm pretty sure I'll never have again. Why? Because I want more. I expect more. And people expect more from me. Which is not a complaint, it's just the way it is.

It will never be like it was the first time.

Mind you, is anything ever like it was the first time?

Life has been CRAZY lately. Sometimes I just stop and look around, and I can't believe everything that's changed in the past two and half years. Since early 2012, I've been on fifteen trips, moved three times, gotten divorced, gotten married, lost two cats, gained one cat, and had major surgery. Somewhere in there I released two books (FREAK and THE BUTCHER), and now I'm working on the next one.

And now this is happening:

This was a month ago. I'm bigger now. And way more tired.

I'm due the third week of November with our first (and probably only) child. It was a complete surprise, totally unplanned, and now life is about to get even crazier! I can't wait.

And somehow, between now and then, I hope to finish the book I'm working on. And then, at some point, I hope to write another. I have no idea how I'll do that with a baby in the house, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. And then I'll write another. And then another. Because, you know, that's what writers do. Life is a constantly shifting balancing act.

But it's filled with things that make me so happy. I'm very, very blessed.

I can't pretend, though, on the days when I'm writing and life feels extra swirly, that I don't miss how it felt the first time. When there was zero pressure, no deadlines, and no crazy life made crazier by hormones and pregnancy fatigue... when I had nothing but time. When it didn't matter if the book was shitty.

Yeah... those were the days.

* * *

Thoughts on book promotion, tours, and the non-writing stuff that writers have to do

It's been almost a month since THE BUTCHER was released, and little by little, life is returning to some semblance of normal.

I've engaged in a lot of discussion recently with other authors about book promotion. Across the board, it's all something we have to do, and the general consensus is, nobody exactly loves it. Some of us don't mind it, and some of us downright hate it, but nobody really loves it, and the main reason is because it takes a lot of time away from doing what we really love to do, which is write books.

Thoughts on social media:

Like most published authors, I have a professional website, I'm on Facebook (both a regular account and an author page), I tweet, I Instagram, I'm on LinkedIn, and I have this blog. To keep up with all of it is time-consuming, and I know I don't keep up with any of it nearly as well as I should.

So when I get to talking with other writers (which I had the pleasure of doing at last month's ThrillerFest), the big question we always ask each other is, "What are you doing that's working?"

My good friend Hilary Davidson wrote an article not long ago for the National Post (a national Canadian newspaper) called "Sorry, but social media won't sell your book." She said:

"When I talk about social media, I emphasize the social part. It’s about connecting, not selling."

And I wholeheartedly agree. Nobody likes being barked at, either in person or online, and that's exactly what it feels like when an author tweets about their book twenty times a day, and constantly posts links and quotes to it on Facebook. When you do this, you turn into a marketing bot, and it's boring. And annoying. And people tune you out. And eventually they hide you, or unfollow you. You know why? Because they already know you wrote a book. You're telling the same people the same thing over and over again. So in terms of increasing sales, that doesn't really work.

A big-name author I recently met in New York said that while he has over 150,000 "likes" on his Facebook page, those "likes" don't actually translate to sales. A hundred people may "like" and comment on any one of his Facebook posts promoting his new book, but those same hundred people won't necessarily buy that new book.

So what does work? Using social media to actually socialize with other people. Social media works best when you talk about yourself, and things people can relate to, and when you feel accessible and real to others. The majority of retweets I get are not from the tweets where I talk about my books, but when I tweet interesting articles I've come across online. When I talk about movies, TV shows, or other people's books, I usually end up engaging in interesting discussions, and inevitably, I "meet" new people and gain new followers. And it's these NEW followers who could become new book buyers, which of course, helps my sales.

In fact, my biggest crop of new followers happened after I tweeted something that had ZERO to do with writing. And this tweet, with the hashtag #WorstSummerJob, actually ended up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (it's the last one Jimmy reads, but they're all funny!):




Thoughts on book tours:

It was interesting to learn that a lot of bestselling authors no longer go on book tours. I was part of a panel at ThrillerFest last month called "Going Out or Going Online?", which debated whether book tours or social media was better at selling books. The general consensus was: neither work perfectly well. Book tours are expensive. As marketing budgets get tighter for publishers, it's becoming less profitable for them to send authors on these multi-city book tours, because the majority of readers who show up to these events have already bought the ebook. And you can't really autograph an ebook. Which means that the bookstore hosting the event doesn't sell a lot of books, and if they're not able to sell a lot of books, what's the incentive for the bookstore or the publisher to have an author there?

Times are changing, indeed.

So what can authors do to promote their stuff?

I'm in no way an expert at any of this, having only put out three books so far. But I've been saying this since the beginning, and I still stick by it: The best thing a writer can do to promote their books is to write the next book.

Over the past couple of months, with the pending and subsequent release of THE BUTCHER, I noticed a spike in my sales for CREEP and FREAK. CREEP was released in 2011, and FREAK in 2012, so these are now my backlist titles. Why, suddenly, did I sell a whole bunch of copies in the past couple of months? Because of THE BUTCHER. The hype (if you can call it that) for the new book reminded readers that I have two other books already out, and so THE BUTCHER sold more copies of CREEP and FREAK for me this past month than any amount of social media or book events did for those two titles in the past year.


My best advice:

To my fellow writers who are overwhelmed about online promotion and books tours: Keep writing. Tweet and Facebook and do all that social media stuff, yes, and be accessible and real while you do it. Attend as many book events in person as your time and budget allow, because it's always a good thing to connect with readers and network with other writers.

But first and foremost? Always, ALWAYS be working on the next book.


* * *

I'm a professional writer, not a professional reader

Which is why it's good that someone else was hired to read THE BUTCHER!

Don't you love audio books? I do. There's nothing like being on a really long drive and listening to a really good story. The right narrator can make or break a book, I think.

In my case, I think they picked the right narrator for THE BUTCHER. You can listen to a quick audio sample here:

http://amblingbooks.com/books/view/the_butcher_1#.U9_kt3l0yUk



Have a great day!

* * *

Blog radio, podcasts, and on-camera interviews, oh my

One of the weirdest things about listening to myself give an interview is how I sound in an interview. I mean, is that really my voice? Do I really talk like that? Clearly I do, but it's completely different than how I sound in my head!

I've had the opportunity to do a few interviews in the past few weeks to help promote THE BUTCHER (out now!), so if you've got a few minutes and want to hear me talk, here they are:

Audio interview with Red Carpet Clash (sorry for the poor sound quality on my end – I was on my cell phone). Also, warning, I giggled A LOT:

http://redcarpetcrash.com/interview-author-jennifer-hillier-talks-new-book-butcher/


Podcast interview with Cary Barbor from BooksAndAuthors (done in NYC at her studio):

http://www.bksandauthors.com/episode/jennifer-hillier-the-butcher



On-camera interview with Jessica Mazo from Martini Productions (done in NYC at ThrillerFest):




Fun fun!

* * *


Reader emails (99% awesome, 1% waaah, leave me alone)

So my new book, THE BUTCHER, came out last Tuesday (yay!) and among the many awesome things that happen when a book is released are the lovely emails I get from people I've never met.

It's out now! This would make a lovely gift for someone, yes? *hint hint*

Obviously I'm not talking about those spam emails for sexual dysfunction pills or online dating sites (which I get anyway, and have nothing to do with releasing a book). The emails I'm referring to are from folks who, from somewhere in the world, have read my book and liked it (or were annoyed by it!) enough to send me an email about it.

99% of the reader emails I get are absolutely delightful. I make a point to respond to every single one, though I may not always be timely (and I'm sorry about that, as writing and that pesky thing called life can sometimes steal all my energy for the day). But I do always reply, and usually quite joyfully. I love talking to readers! Hell, I would love talking to readers even if I wasn't a writer. We're a unique little club, we are.

Here are a few examples of the delightful emails I receive:

Dear Jennifer,

I loved your book FREAK! You kept me up way too late last night reading, but it was worth it! I have to know, what happens to Abby?

Sincerely,
Reader

*delightful*

AND

Dear Jennifer,

My mom lent me her copy of CREEP, and I loved it and have passed it along to my friend Myrna, who said she'll finish it by tomorrow, and then lend it to her coworker Alan, who loves thrillers.

Yours truly,
Reader

*extremely delightful*

AND

Dear Jennifer,

I'm such a fan of your work and can't wait to dive into THE BUTCHER! I've just ordered it and so did everyone in my family and social circle, and everyone in their families and social circles as well. You're just that amazing.

Love and adoration,
Reader

*ridiculously delightful* *and also a total fantasy, this has never been emailed to me* *but one can hope*

But not every email is delightful. I would say a full 1% of the emails I get are decidedly non-delightful.

Here are a few examples of the non-delightful emails I get:

Dear Ms. Hillier,

I have read your novel CREEP and while I thought it was okay, I counted and you used the word 'fuck' 96 times. I get that your book is about a sex addict and a serial killer, but why so much profanity? For that reason I can't recommend this novel to anyone and I highly recommend that you refrain from using such harsh language in your future books.

Sincerely,
Reader

*well, fuck*

AND

Dear Jennifer Hillier,

I just finished reading FREAK. I used to be an inmate at a maximum security prison and I did not think your prison scenes were realistic. If you want to hire me as a consultant for your next book, I would be happy to make sure you get your facts straight. We can discuss payment at a later date. What's your home address?

Yours truly,
Reader

*what the hell*

AND

Dear Jennifer,

I enjoyed your book, but couldn't help but notice the following errors/typos/inaccuracies:

p. 43 - error
p. 92 - error
p. 101 - typo
p. 289 - inaccurate - did you get this from Google?

Regards,
Reader

*waaah* *curls up into fetal position, sucks thumb*

Non-delightful emails instantly remind me that what I do is creative and subject to public opinion. Everybody who reads a book is absolutely entitled to say what they think about it, and not everybody will like it, for lots of reasons. And that can be hard for someone like me, who's a "people-pleaser" by nature. But if you want to publish a book, then feedback in all its forms are part of the package that publishing comes with.

Also, mistakes in a novel will still slip through to the finished product, despite the fact that the book has been revised at least four times by me, and worked on with an editor (usually twice), and then a copy editor, and then edited again using the professionally typeset pages another two more times. Mistakes suck, but they happen (and I still want to stamp my feet in frustration when they do).

But then a delightful email pops into my inbox, and all is right with the world again.

* * *

ThrillerFest & THE BUTCHER

The most wonderful time of the year is when my new book releases at the same time as my most favorite conference!

It's July, so of course I headed to NYC for ThrillerFest, which is THE place to be if you're a writer (or fan) of the genre. Can you believe this was my fifth trip? FIFTH!

As usual, it was a whirlwind trip, filled with lunches and dinners and panels and interviews and work stuff and fun stuff, oh my.

The fun stuff:

Dinner with my good friend Hilary Davidson and her husband, Dan at Rosa Mexicano, my new favorite Mexican place.

An evening at the Comedy Cellar in the West Village with my good friend David Batista, where Aziz Ansari just happened to stop in and do a set! Followed by a killer dinner at my new favorite Cuban place, Cuba.

Waiting for the subway at Grand Central. Darren and I were trying to pretend as if we were real New Yorkers, but if David hadn't been with us, we have gotten so lost.

Dinner with my good friends Alex and Dean in Chelsea at GustOrganics, my new favorite organic restaurant.

This was actually at Bareburger, where we had fattening milkshakes for dessert AFTER our extremely healthy dinner. Gotta keep it balanced, ya know. Alex and I always do a selfie when we get together – why break tradition?


Uh... can you tell I love food? Every food is my favorite food while I'm eating it!



The work stuff (which also happens to be fun stuff):

An on-camera interview with Jessica Mazo from Martini Productions.

This was very cool! I'll a post a link when the interview is up on their site.


My panel, called "Going Out or Going Online?", where Chelsea Cain, Christopher Rice, Heather Graham, LA Starks, and Lisa Gardner and I discussed book tours vs. social media promotion, with our panel master Jenny Milchman. Our panel was packed! Standing room only.

A savvy panel attendee pointed out the shattered glass in the picture behind where Chelsea and I were sitting. Bullet hole? Sling shot? It was, like, SO TOTALLY APPROPRIATE.


Finally got to say hello in person to ThrillerFest Award nominee Owen Laukkanen! We only have about a bajillion mutual friends, so it was about time.

You can't tell how tall Owen actually is from this picture. He scrunched down for me.


Lunch with my agent from Levine Greenberg Rostan, Victoria Skurnick, and my publicist from Gallery Books, Stephanie DeLuca, at SipSak, a yummy Turkish restaurant.

A podcast interview with Cary Barbor from Books and Authors, in a very cool studio.

Fun times at the studio! I'll post a link to this one too when it's up.


I finally got to meet Shannon Raab, the Creative Director of Suspense Magazine. I wanted to hug her but refrained – after all, we just met! But Suspense Magazine has been so, so good to me, and to my books.

And of course, ThrillerFest is always the first place you can buy my new book! Here's THE BUTCHER on the front table at the conference... always so exciting to see it on sale for the first time.


This never gets old.

By the way, the book is out today! Yay! Click HERE for buy links... or go look for it at your local bookstore!

* * *



Good reviews are like chocolate...

You want to stuff yourself silly and enjoy the high!

I know I promised I wouldn't brag too much about THE BUTCHER here, but please forgive me one more time. The book just got great reviews from both Fresh Fiction and RT Book Reviews, and I'm so giddy I might just pass out!

From Fresh Fiction:
Jennifer Hillier's THE BUTCHER is a rapid-fire thriller of dark, unsettling proportions with some very surprising twists. With the turn of each new page, the suspenseful plot is tense and gripping. Even knowing the identity of the Butcher does not diminish the excitement of figuring out just how everything will be resolved. THE BUTCHER is a skillfully penned tale of murder and cover-up that will keep readers enthralled until the powerful finish. Thriller fans should not miss THE BUTCHER!

From RT Book Reviews (a scan from their current issue, where THE BUTCHER is a TOP PICK!):


Woo hoo! Let's go celebrate... chocolate for everybody!


* * *


Kirkus reviews THE BUTCHER!

And they liked it! *cartwheels* *hand springs* *mild injuries* *don't worry I'm okay*

From the July 1st edition of Kirkus:
Thirty years ago, Seattle Police Capt. Edward Shank put down a serial killer dubbed the Butcher. Edward’s bullet ended Rufus Wedge’s sorry life. But did the killings end?

Hillier’s (Freak, 2012, etc.) third thriller fairly shudders with tension. Edward is ready to retire to an assisted living facility and give his grandson, Matt, the family home, a beloved Victorian in a posh neighborhood. An up-and-coming chef, Matt has parlayed his successful food-truck business into Adobo, the hottest restaurant in town, and the reality show networks are calling. The only trouble is that his girlfriend, Samantha, can’t understand why Matt hasn’t invited her to move in, too. After all, they’ve been together for three years. Pressuring Matt, though, isn’t getting her anywhere, and even their friend—well, really Sam’s friend—Jason is a little mystified. Certainly, Matt’s history of anger management trouble gives Jason pause. While Matt renovates the house and works late, Sam turns back to researching her latest true-crime book. This time, she has a personal investment. She’s convinced that her mother was killed by the notorious Butcher. Bored at the retirement home, Edward has become an invaluable sounding board. Like the Butcher’s other victims, Sam’s mother was raped, strangled and left in a shallow grave. Unfortunately for Sam’s theory, her mother was killed two years after Rufus Wedge’s death. Meanwhile, Matt’s contractor has unearthed a crate filled with gruesome artifacts. As Matt investigates the crate’s contents and Sam questions a mysterious informant, their romance unravels and the body count begins to rise. Hillier sends her reader into a labyrinth of creepy twists and grotesque turns. There’s no escape from the brutal truths exposed.

The secrets of the past refuse to keep quiet in this disquieting, taut thriller.
 
 So so so so happy!

THE BUTCHER is coming July 15th! Have you preordered? You can do it right here with a couple of clicks:

 
 
 
 
  
  
 
  
  

* * *

My tweet made The Tonight Show!

This might be the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me!

Jimmy Fallon does a segment every week on The Tonight Show where he picks a hashtag on Tuesdays and invites people to tweet something funny about it. He posts the best ones on the show on Thursdays. This week it was #WorstSummerJobs... and he picked mine!

Mine was the very last one, but watch them all, they're hilarious!



My life is made.

* * *

It's that nail-biting, gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking time of year

... otherwise known as, The Weeks Leading Up to Release Day.

My wonderful, loving, well-meaning friends and family like to ask me, "So, are you excited for The Butcher to come out? Huh? Are you? Huh?"

Excited? Would I use the word excited? I don't know that I would, exactly.

Don't get me wrong, I do feel excitement. It's definitely there, threaded in with the EXTREME NERVOUSNESS OF PUTTING A NEW BOOK OUT INTO THE WORLD THAT PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY READ AND HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT.

Sorry, I don't mean to shout. It's just that when I think about my upcoming release day – and this is how it was for the first two books as well – my brain can only process the monumental event in ALL CAPS.

Because it's genuinely scary. I've written something that I've worked hard on, and that I feel an emotional connection to. And of course I'm completely invested in whether or not it will do well. So it's terrifying in a lot of ways to imagine it out there, being bought, being borrowed, being read, being discussed... I don't know that it's possible to ever get used to it, or to ever take it lightly.

Imagine being naked, and standing in glass booth, and having people you don't know walk by and stare at you and make comments about your naked body. Imagine how exposed and self-conscious you would feel (unless you're a Playboy Playmate, but hey, they get airbrushing). That's kind of what it feels like.

I could even take that one step further, since I'm working on a new book right now. Imagine being at the gym naked, working out (okay, this is sounding like a bad recurring dream), and having people stare at you and make comments about your body while you're trying to do a plank.

I know it's part of the job. I signed up for this, every bit of it. You can't cherry pick the parts you like about writing and then pretend the rest of it doesn't exist. It's a package deal. The scary is mixed in with the awesome. I follow (stalk) a lot of popular, bestselling authors on Facebook and Twitter, and am relieved to see that they still get nervous too, even after multiple books and a long, successful career.

So whenever I feel faint, which is often these days, I try to remember I'm in good company.

* * *

It doesn't feel like a Monday...

... because there's just too much good news! Two AMAZING reviews for THE BUTCHER just came in, and I had to share.

From Suspense Magazine's upcoming July issue:
"Once I got started I couldn’t stop reading, and I confess to having sweaty palms a few times. A thrill ride that will have your attention from start to finish! This one is 4.5 stars."
The full review will be available in the July 2014 issue! Subscribe HERE.

From Dead End Follies:
"THE BUTCHER is a clever, twisted thriller about genetics, faith, and death . . . The greatest thing about THE BUTCHER is its uncanny ability to trump the narrative conventions of the conventional serial killer novel over and over again . .  Jennifer Hillier's prose remains fast paced and immensely readable as her content becomes quirkier and more cerebral with every novel."
Read the entire review HERE (and I hope you do, it's so insightful!). As a side note, I want to praise Dead End Follies in general for being such a unique place to read reviews. Ben goes deep. Really deep. It's such a treat for both authors and readers, so be sure to stop by.

I also have a new website! Well, same name, different look. I hope you like it. Click www.jenniferhillier.org to visit.

* * *
 
Short note from the Serial Killer Files management team (a.k.a. me) to my fellow bloggers: The comments feature has been disabled for now. I feel horrible when you stop by and take the time to say something awesome, and I don't always have the time to reciprocate by commenting on your blog (even though I almost always stop by). Please know that I so appreciate you reading! I hope you know that I'm reading, too, even though I can't always let you know that I was there. Thank you .

Booklist reviews THE BUTCHER!

My first trade review for the new book... and they liked it! Woo hoo!

I believe you have to have an account with Booklist to read the review online, but here it is:

The Butcher
Hillier, Jennifer (Author)
Jul 2014. 352 p. Gallery, hardcover, $25. (9781476734217). Gallery, e-book, (9781476734224).

Hillier’s prose is unadorned, but, as she ably proved in her debut (Creep, 2011), she has a fine knack for creating hideous killers. This time she turns the formula whodunit on its head. The prologue sets the scene: in 1985, the Beacon Hill Butcher, whose signature was to remove the left hand of his young female victims, was shot to death by police under the command of Captain Edward Shank. The incident made Shank a hero and propelled him into a lengthy term as chief of police. Skip ahead 30 years. Shank, now a dapper, alert 80, still lauded for his role in the Butcher case, is about to move to a retirement home. He’s anxious, yet almost gleeful, about starting a new chapter in his life—which he begins by killing his wife. For years “Chief” has fooled everyone, including his grandson, Matt, and Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, who is convinced there’s more to know about the Butcher. As it turns out, the coldly rational, sadistic Shank has plans for his new life that are apt to prove Sam right. A tense, suspenseful, thoroughly creepy thriller.
— Stephanie Zvirin



That thumping sound you hear is me doing cartwheels... *whee*

Also, Jim Munchel from NoStranger2Fiction said that THE BUTCHER "kicked his ass around the block and back." Thank you, Jim! Read the entire review here.

THE BUTCHER will be out July 15th!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Chapters Indigo
Powell's

* * *

The eh List author series, and a couple of book recommendations

Book events. What I can say about book events?

They never get easier.

I get really nervous.

I'm not a natural when it comes to reading my stuff to an audience so I have to practice, practice, practice.

I have to remind myself that all those pairs of eyes staring at me while I talk are FRIENDLY.

It's important not to fall over.

They're really fun.

The Dark Side Tour event in Toronto was a success! We had a great turnout and the questions from the audience were engaging. Andrew Pyper couldn't make it, but Brad Smith and Craig Davidson (aka Nick Cutter) and I had a fun time talking about our books and our writing processes and asking each other writerly questions.

And, of course, I'll take any excuse to come home to Toronto...


Craig Davidson (Nick Cutter), me, and Brad Smith



But, guys. I have to tell you. If you're looking for a classic, old-fashioned, early Stephen King-type horror story, you MUST read Nick Cutter's THE TROOP. For real. It's terrific.



Also, have you heard of Andrew Pyper's THE DEMONOLOGIST? It's a literary horror that's so beautiful, and scary, and sad, and layered, and complex.



I read both these books just before the event (haven't had a chance to read Brad Smith's book yet), and can highly recommend them.

Happy Spring!

* * *

The Dark Side Tour in Toronto

Come and see me at the Toronto Reference Library on Thursday, April 17 at 7 pm! I'll be with fellow authors Craig Davidson, Andrew Pyper, and Brad Smith. We'll be talking about dark people who do dark stuff... which is kind of my favorite thing to do.


My love/hate relationship with Facebook

I've had a personal profile on Facebook since February 2007, and after seven years in this relationship, I'm seriously wondering if it's still for me. More and more, I'm finding it's becoming a love/hate relationship.

I get that people can and should use Facebook however they want, and I respect that. So the things I'm quibbling about are very specific to me, and things I'm personally not crazy about as a Facebook user with a personal profile (this does not refer to having an author or business page). You may or may not agree.

Things I hate about Facebook:

The same 30 people on my friends list (out of 600) are the ones who post every day.
And because they post so much – multiple times a day, for some of them – it drowns out the people who only post once in awhile, who are usually the people I'd love to catch up with. I know every minute detail of those same 30 people's lives... and I wish I could care, but I can't, because I've become desensitized.

People who use Facebook like it's Twitter.
There are folks who put out rapid-fire status updates every hour, and sometimes every few minutes. They do this while watching sports, or a TV show, or a movie. Or they post every detail of how their day is going, and how they feel about it. On Facebook, this is a drag, because everyone else gets buried, and so when I log in all I see is a page full of this person and nobody else.

You know what's great for rapid-fire status updates? Twitter. IT'S SPECIFICALLY WHAT TWITTER IS FOR.

People who VagueBook.
Example of a VagueBook status update: "I'm having a horrible day."
Multiple comments: "Oh no! Are you ok? What's going on?"
Initial poster: "I don't want to talk about it."
THEN DON'T TALK ABOUT IT. AT ALL.

People who complain ALL THE TIME.
You know how you avoid that person in real life who never has anything positive to say? Same goes for Facebook. Yes, life is hard and some days it downright sucks. But when all you do is complain about your neighbor, and the gas station clerk, and the server at the restaurant, and the person who cuts your hair, and your shitty day, over and over again... maybe the problem is you. And nobody likes someone who's toxic. Chances are, I've hidden you.

People who announce, "I've just cleaned out my Friends list and so if you can see this status, you're still here! Congratulations!"
Believe it or not, I have seen this status more times than I can count on both hands and feet. It's obnoxious. And mean.

You know what I do when I see that? I quietly unfriend you. So that during the next clean-out, you don't have to stress about whether to keep me or not.

People who flood your News Feed with promotional stuff.
Look, I get it. As writers, we all have stuff we need to promote, and Facebook is a great tool for that. Some promotion on a personal profile is fine, especially when there's something big to share.

But you know what happens when you use your personal profile to promote your books every day? When all you do is post quotes from Amazon or Goodreads reviews constantly? When the majority of what you talk about is your books, and not yourself, and therefore I feel like I'm constantly being spammed to buy something I likely already bought because we're Facebook friends?

I HIDE YOU.

That's why you see the same five people "liking" your posts, and only those same five people. The rest of us don't even see you because we hid you two years ago.

You know what's great on Facebook for constant promotion? An author page! Then people who aren't even your Facebook friends can Like you, and you can promote your stuff all you want, and that's cool because that's what an author page is for. Everybody's happy.

But hey. Facebook isn't all bad. There are lot of things I enjoy about Facebook, that keep me coming back.

Things I love about Facebook:

Photos.
I love seeing pictures of your kids and your dog, and of the awesome vacation you took. I even like your food porn.

Personal observations.
I love hearing about your real-life conversations, life lessons, things that make you laugh, things that scare you. I love authenticity.

Meaningful discussion.
Politics, current events, books, TV shows, movies, food. Bring it. I don't always participate, but I love reading the exchange of ideas.

Check-ins.
The better to stalk you with.

Relationship status updates.
Because who doesn't want to know who's doing it with whom?

Links to news and interesting articles.
I follow my publisher, CNN, the National Post, the Seahawks, and Stephen King, among other pages, and there's no easier way to keep up with the stuff that interests me than to be on Facebook.

Announcements.
I love it when something good happens to you, whether it be a book deal, or your sister had a baby, or you've hit your weight loss goal of 50 lbs. That's great news, and I love being able to hit the Like button and congratulate you.

I can also appreciate the ease of announcing something bad on Facebook. It can be hard to tell people something one-on-one, and maybe you have don't have the energy or the time to call people individually. Whether your sick dog just died, or you had a rough day at work and need to talk about it, that's cool. I'm here for you.

What do you love and hate about Facebook?

* * *

A love story

So I know The Serial Killer Files is supposed to be a dark and foreboding place where we talk about murder and books and things that go bump in the night, but I'm just too cheerful for that these days.

Because a year ago, in Las Vegas on St. Patrick's Day 2013, I met a boy. He was in town for NCAA March Madness. I was there with a bunch of my girlfriends.



And then exactly one year later, on March 17, 2014, surrounded by just immediate family and our closest friends, we headed back to Las Vegas.

AND GOT MARRIED!

It was an epic wedding weekend at the Aria Resort & Casino.

 
 



We finished the night by heading back to the place we met. There may have been a party bus...



It was a bit trippy being back at the Nine Fine Irishmen at New York New York, where there was once again a U2 cover band playing.

So so so so happy. I don't do the fairy tale thing, but, you know... ;)




* * *

The Butcher, the killer, the bone-chilling thriller

Ok, so I butchered that nursery rhyme, but I couldn't help it. It's that nail-biting time when reviews for the new book are beginning to come in, and I desperately need a manicure!



Here's a great review from Chiller Thriller: "This was by far one of the best thrillers I've ever read. It was so bone-chilling I could actually feel the killer slicing into his victims..."

And another from The Crime Book Beat: "If it's Ms. Hillier's literary mission to assure that psychopaths abound in our everyday, count me as convinced."

And this one from Flashlight Commentary: "Dramatic, dark, and disturbing, Hillier's third release isn't to be missed."

Yay! *faints from relief*

Let me tell you, this writing life? Not for the faint of heart. Reading my reviews is far more terrifying than any kill scene I've ever written!

* * *

A conversation with my 92-year-old neighbor

My newest book, THE BUTCHER, is out in July, and it stars an 80-year-old retired police chief who has lots of secrets. It was a bit of a gamble for me to write a character so old. I mean, I'm still a spring chicken (*cough cough*), and all my grandparents are dead – what do I know about old people?

It turns out that I actually do know a little bit. Until recently, I lived in a building where 80% of my neighbors were retired. The other 20% were recently separated or divorced (*cough cough*). The building was a fairly social community, with Coffee Tuesdays and Card Thursdays. It was a nice, clean place to live, and many of the residents have been there for over a decade.

For the year that I was there, I lived next door to Del, who's 92 years old. A feisty old bugger who always wore his pleated pants too high, I always knew he was home and doing fine when the hallway smelled like cherry-flavored cigars and chicken noodle soup, and I could hear M.A.S.H playing at full volume on the TV.

One day last fall, I noticed Del's door was open. Concerned, I put down my groceries and called out to him. Sounding panicky, he told me to come inside. Of course I did... only to find him on the toilet with his pants down around his ankles, smoking a cigar and grinning like the sneaky bastard he still was. "Hey Jennifer! How's your day going?"

But it wasn't always funny. I found him wandering lost in the underground parking garage more than a few times. Sometimes his home nurse (a different one every day) would be running late and he'd knock on my door, asking if I had anything to eat.

The last time I saw him, he didn't recognize me. Shuffling behind his walker, he looked so lost. "Do you know which apartment is mine?" he asked. "I can't remember where I live."

Neither of us live in the building anymore. I'm in Seattle now, and Del has gone on to an old folks' home. I often wonder if he's doing okay. I tell myself that he is.

I'll never forget this conversation we had back in April, when he still had his wits about him:

Del:  Hi Jennifer. I thought you were great in that shampoo commercial. I watch it all the time. Comes on every night during Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

Me:  Shampoo commercial? I'm not in a –

Del:  Last night, I says to my daughter, I says, "That's Jennifer. She's my neighbor. She writes books but she also has good hair. And my daughter says, "That's so cool that your neighbor is a celebrity, Dad."

Me:  That's sweet, Del, but I'm actually not in a shampoo –

Del:  And I says to her, don't take this the wrong way, but I says, "You know, her hair doesn’t look like that every day. Most days it just looks regular. They do that for the commercial, to sell the shampoo."

Me:  Yes, well, most days I do just wear my hair up –

Del:  But I wonder, you know, I wonder, how do you find the time to write books and do the modeling?

Me:  I'm not a model, I only write –

Del:  And they slim you for the commercials, don't they? Because you look very thin on TV, but I figure what with all the technology nowadays, they can take a little weight off you so that you look good on TV. I mean, compared to how you look now.

Me:  Um, I, well –

Del:  Not that you're a big girl, you're not a big girl, but you do look thinner on TV. And your hair looks good on TV. You should do your hair like that more. You know, make it all straight and shiny. You won't be single for long if you looked like you do on TV.

Me:  I'll keep that in mind.

Del:  Little effort never hurts. That's what I tell my daughter. She gets mad when I say that, though.

* * *

Dear Girlfriend

(This letter is for you. You know who you are.)

So he left you. He left you for the girl who is younger/older/thinner/fatter/uglier/prettier/richer/poorer/dumber/smarter than you. On some level you knew the relationship was falling apart, and yet it still shocked the shit out of you when it actually happened.

He left you. Maybe he didn't physically leave, maybe it was you who walked out/kicked him out/refused to speak to him ever again, but he cheated on you and broke your heart, and so ultimately, it really was him who did the leaving.

You remember the morning/afternoon/night it happened like it was yesterday. You remember how your heart was pounding as you found out/he confessed, and how it stopped beating for a second the moment you processed what he had done/was doing. You were in disbelief, which turned into panic, which turned into pain, a searing pain so hot and fierce you couldn't take a deep breath without falling over. Who was this person who could hurt you like this? You thought you knew him better than anyone, that he was your partner and your best friend, and yet he was hurting you in a way that felt like your soul was bleeding. No, the relationship wasn't perfect, and you knew that, but you don't deserve this.

Or do you?

You sit alone in your empty house/apartment/friend's living room, plagued with bad thoughts, awful thoughts, ugly, prickly little thoughts that bite and hang on with their needle-sharp teeth. Thoughts that whisper that you're not good enough for him. That had you been cuter/skinnier/nicer/sweeter/a better lover/more spontaneous/more fun he would never have sought out someone else who gives him what you cannot.

But here's the thing. It's not about you. It was never about you. There is nothing wrong with you. He left you for her because he wanted to, because she gives him whatever it is he needs – or thinks he needs – which has zero to do with you. He wasn't even thinking about you, or what this would do to you/your family/the life that you've built, and so how could it be about you? Your relationship didn't work, and she is a symptom of that. She may also be a symptom of his mid-life crisis/self-esteem issues/self-entitlement/selfishness/boredom. Or – and this is the absolute worst – maybe they fell in love.

In the end, it doesn't matter. He's gone. You're on your own. And somehow, even though you're living in a nightmare, you have to find a way to go on. Because despite the fact that the person you love most in the world has just murdered you emotionally, it doesn't kill you. Goddammit, you don't die.

Instead, you go on. Little by little, piece by piece. You find a new routine. You force yourself to go to work/make dinner/take a shower/clean your kitchen. You cry a lot. You lean on the friends who are able and willing to help, and the ones who can't (but still love you) will stick around not knowing what to say, and the ones who really can't handle it will disappear from your life because clearly those friendships had expiry dates too. You eat too much/not enough, and you sleep too much/not enough, and you change your hair color/cut your hair, and you buy new clothes/take up yoga/go to therapy, and somehow you just carry on.

You have days when you're angry and days when you're sad, moments when you're numb and moments when your mind won't shut up. You also have moments where you feel perfectly fine, and you cling to them with relief and hope for as long as they last, which is never long, but you'll take them, because it's terrible to feel terrible all the time. In those brief moments you'll feel like yourself again, but then they'll pass and the heaviness and sadness and ache will come back. Mornings are particularly bad, because you wake up each day feeling all right for about ten/twenty/thirty seconds until you remember the awful thing that happened to you and it all comes rushing back, fresh and new, to crush you all over again.

But little by little, piece by piece, it gets better. Somehow, miraculously, it does. Things you used to find funny are funny again. Food that was tasty before is tasty again. Mornings get better, and eventually you're having pretty good days all around with only a few moments of heartache that don't last long and don't hold you back. You take a good look at yourself and realize that despite the horrible month/few months/year you've just had, you're stronger, smarter, and more focused than you ever were before. And there's no way someone like him would ever have a place in your life now, because you've outgrown him, and you deserve better than anything he could ever have given you.

In fact, you can't even remember the last time you talked about him.

And that's when you meet someone new, someone who gives you those butterflies/heart palpitations/shivers, someone who sees you exactly as you are now, and who loves you because you are exactly who you are now. Scars/warts/baggage and all. And you realize that to have met this new guy, this amazing guy who gets you and cherishes you and gives you his whole heart, you had to go through everything you went through, just as you did. And it was totally worth it.

Surprise, surprise. You're you again. There you are. I see you.


And you know what? You've never looked better.

Welcome back, girl.

Love,

Jenny


* * *