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Oct 9, 2006
PW'S Q&A w/HRH Jill

The Queen's "Bullet-Proof" Debut Novel
PW Talks to Jill Conner Browne
by Kevin Howell -- Publishers Weekly, 10/9/2006
With five nonfiction bestsellers under her crown, Browne's first novel is aptly titled The Sweet Potato Queen's First Big-Ass Novel.

What are the positives of writing fiction?
My mother is ecstatic. After years of trying to convince people that my other books were fiction, she is delighted that this one is made up and will therefore require no disclaimers on her part.

Did you have a different writing schedule or mindset writing fiction?
I write whenever I have a spare minute or three. No matter what I'm writing, my mindset is: [evil laugh] "Bwahahahahahaha!" I'm a one-trick pony—but hey, so far it's working.

How did you team with Karin Gillespie?
My gifted and good-looking agent, Jenny Bent, asked me about collaborating on a work of fiction. Jenny asked me to blurb Karin's first manuscript and after reading it, I called Jenny and said okay, I could do the book with this woman. Since Karin's the experienced fiction writer, she had the first go at it. She wrote a book and sent it to me. I used her time line, but rewrote all the characters and events to reflect my voice and vision. The great thing about collaboration is
that, if somebody hates something in it, I can claim, "Karin wrote that part." And she can do the same. We're bulletproof!

What kind of direction did you get from your new editor?
Denise Roy is DreamEditorGirl—she has the utmost respect for an author's story. Everything she suggests serves only to tell that story better. Her primary responsibility was telling me to shut up.

Tell us about the book you're currently writing, The Sweet Potato Queen's Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit.
People who have children laugh when they hear that title because they know that much of the child-rearing process is anything but fun and none of it is profitable. It'll be tough to find a place to stop writing on this one—but saying "enough already" will be Denise's job.

Now that you've made the leap to fiction, what else is ahead?
I'm too lazy to leap anywhere, but now that I have meandered over to fiction and found it fun, I expect I'll do some more of it. On other fronts, we are pitching a Sweet Potato Queen reality show for TV. And what I'm most excited about is the SPQ musical—this has always been my dream. SPQ wanna-bes everywhere are already worrying about, whatever will we wear to the Tony Awards.

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