Hi, I'm Jill
I'm a mom, an award-winning author of 3 books, and an avid outdoor adventurer, who married a performance artist and addiction counselor renown for the best risotto on the planet.
I grew up as an Army brat, traveling the world. Now, I'm psyched to live in Spokane and adventure around the Pacific Northwest.
One of the reasons that I dig the animated Sleeping Beauty is that Maleficent is such a great villain. She has horns and a fabulous voice and calls upon all the forces of hell to transform into a medieval dragon. Love it. Or Peter Lorre playing a freaky child killer in M, a beautifully shot German film from 1931. The villains that really get to me play their roles with such delight, because they...Read More
I was one of those kids who lectured for her stuffed animals. I’d line them up on the bed, and the chairs, and on the sofa, and use the chalkboard at the front of the “class” to illustrate my lessons. Arithmetic and spelling exercises, story time, History, flashcards, lots of lectures on animals since I planned to be a veterinarian (and many of my pupils were animals). From the second grade, I wrote stories,...Read More
In a Greek History class in college, the professor had us read the Iliad and Odyssey, and we’d discuss the cultural clues to Greek life apparent in the text. That class happened to coincide with Latin where we were translating myths and poems and speeches. The overlap was startling. Since it was Latin 101, we were only working with fragments of text: shards of story, and because it was Latin, these were frequently re-interpretations...Read More
I got sick when I was twenty-five. Actually, the story must begin differently. I want to tell about the time I went to Pipeline, my first summer in Hawaii, with my family and some of our friends. I’d swum out maybe twenty feet when a wave rolled me, and held me under. I came up in time to be nailed and pinned by another. Over and over. I’d fight up in time to be...Read More
One mind: I’m the middle child of modern feminism. My older sisters broke ground, are radical, and kind of stiff, and like to give lectures. My younger sisters are dressing like Johnny Rotten and can take their girlfriends to prom with the wholehearted approval of their parents, teachers, and peers. And me, I keep my head down and work jobs alongside guys for the same wage and vote and play competitive sports. The assumption...Read More
Brooke is a fan of the StoryPeople. For a while, I couldn’t think of them without thinking of her, and this made it impossible for me to consider them objectively. This last week, while she was out of school, we found a box of StoryPeople prints at a store, and panned through them. Whimsical, sentimental, new agey, clever. I found myself enjoying many of them. Previously, I had been discussing bounded rationalism with a...Read More
We tell ourselves stories. Stories of our own achievement, of our limitations, of our potential. Stories to keep the monsters in the shadows on the walk home at night. Stories of love and devotion, stories of the winner in a particular argument, stories of our parents’ betrayal, stories of our cowardice. I’m too inexperienced. I’m too old. I’m not ready. I’m not good enough. We have myths of a garden, of spring, of a...Read More
This month on the New Yorker podcast, A.M. Homes reads The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Homes calls Jackson’s piece an iconic American story. Why American? Because the writer’s American? Because the work is read prevalently in America? I read The Lottery in junior high, high school, and college. Like Wuthering Heights, it was part of the curriculum of each new school. Unlike Wuthering Heights—a pubescent, overblown work—I’ve always found The Lottery deeply unsettling. And...Read More
Val McDermid said that characters don’t tell stories, writers do. And, of course, this is true. The characters are a writer’s creation, after all. But, my impulse to bicker with this statement comes from a difference in writer brain. I’m going to divide writers neatly into two categories: those who write to plot/structure, and those whose work is character-driven. McDermid, a mystery writer of intricate, layered plots, is the first. I’m the second. Is...Read More
At a lecture by the poet, Jack Gilbert, years ago, he said that an editor had once advised him that perhaps his poems had big endings too often. I’m intrigued by that criticism. “The Great Fires” is a masterful book of poetry. I carried it in my backpack for years, and read some of those poems thousands of times. They fold back on themselves, the endings transfiguring everything that has come before. The narratives...Read More