Writing With … Jennifer Hillier

Today, I welcome Jennifer Hillier, author of the new thriller CREEP. Jennifer Hillier was born in Toronto, which is where she spent the first three decades of her life. When her husband was offered a transfer to Seattle, she didn’t know which would be worse: leaving Canada or moving to the West coast. She spent her first few months on American soil bemoaning her existence and writing her first novel. Now nicely settled in the Pacific Northwest, the only thing she misses — other than family and friends — is snow.

Q. Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it.

CREEP is a psychological thriller about a sexually addicted college professor who is stalked and terrorized by her teaching assistant, who’s also her former lover. I wanted to write a novel that focused on a protagonist who makes mistakes. Sheila, the college professor in CREEP, is intelligent, kind, and loving — and she’s also a sex addict who engages in an affair with her teaching assistant. She makes terrible choices which might get her killed. Can she dig herself out of the mess she’s created for herself? Can she learn from her mistakes and redeem herself? Can readers root for a protagonist who’s seriously flawed? Those were some of the questions I wanted to explore. And, of course, I wanted to write a good old-fashioned serial killer story on top of it all.

Q. Did you need to do any special research for the book? If so, what’s one of the most interesting facts you discovered?

My villain, Ethan, likes to play around with disguises, so I spent some time researching silicone masks and special effects movie makeup. I watched quite a few YouTube videos and was freaked out by how real some of these transformations can be. You know how you can buy rubber masks at Halloween that cost around thirty dollars? You can also buy masks that cost thousands of dollars, and it’s scary how real they look.

Q. Many people are content to just be readers. How did you become a writer?

When I was a little kid, my Dad refused to read me bedtime stories because he thought it would be more fun and interesting to make them up. So for years, that’s what we did together every night before bed. As I got older, still bitten by the storytelling bug, I started to make up stories on my own and write them down.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I work from home all day, so I relish every opportunity to get out of the house. I love exploring new restaurants, going shopping, and spending time with friends and family. I also love to travel, and I try and get back to Toronto a few times a year.

Q. What are you reading right now?

I’m in between books at the moment. I just finished THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett, and GOOD IN BED by Jennifer Weiner (every so often I crave reading books that are completely outside my genre, and these two fit the bill perfectly). But I just bought Will Lavender’s DOMINANCE and Jon Ronson’s THE PSYCHOPATH TEST, so I’ll be starting those this week.

Q. If you were stranded on that proverbial deserted island, what five books would you want to have with you?

IT by Stephen King (my favorite King book), FIGHT CLUB by Chuck Palahniuk, THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins (I’m going to cheat and count this as one big book!), THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Goldman and a nice, fat textbook describing exactly what I need to do to survive on this proverbial deserted island.

Q. What’s your favorite movie?

The Shawshank Redemption is my all-time favorite. A close second would be The Princess Bride, and tied for third would be Fight Club and Almost Famous.

Q. What’s your favorite food?

Chocolate. And if it’s wrapped in pastry, so much the better.

Q. Cats or dogs?


Q. Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

I may write thrillers, but I’m the biggest scaredy cat you’ll ever meet. I jump at the slightest sound, and when my husband’s not home, I have to sleep with the lights on. It’s pathetic, really.

Posted on by Todd Posted in Writing With

5 Responses to Writing With … Jennifer Hillier

  1. Jennifer Hillier

    Thanks for having me, Todd! This was fun 🙂

  2. Bryce Daniels

    What a neat story about her dad. THAT’S a dad. No wonder she started writing and has a stellar career ahead of her.

    Oh, and “Shawshank?”

    “They say it has no memory. That’s where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.”
    “Andy Dufresne (sp?) who crawled through a river of sh** and came out clean on the other side.”
    Great movie.

    My best wishes to Jennifer, and thanks for the post, Todd. Nice site! Now I just gotta figure out how to RSS all your posts. 🙂

  3. The Golden Eagle

    Great interview!

    Someone who really knew how to use makeup once came to a summer camp I was in; he did some amazing things to a couple of students, and they looked real.

    A book on how to survive on that desert island does sound like it would come in handy.

  4. Medeia Sharif

    I enjoyed learning more about Jennifer. I love The Princess Bride and It; great choices. I also relate with the chocolate and cats. Creep is in my TBR pile. I’ll be reading it soon.

  5. Monica B.W.

    I loved to learn how your dad made up bed-time stories with you, Jenny! That sounds like fun!