We’re excited to kick off our series with an IF List favorite, Jillian Dodd, the best selling indie author of the well-loved series The Keatyn Chronicles. She tells us about her love of cowboy boots, the research involved to write her series, and how she chose Keatyn’s wardrobe!
Hi Jillian, thanks for taking the time to talk with us at The IF List! How and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I never dreamed of being a writer because I hated English. There were a whole lot of rules to follow and tight parameters of what we had to write about. I have, however, always made up stories, songs, daydreams, and art to entertain both myself and those around me. I’ve always been a voracious reader, but had never considered writing a book until I had a series of dreams about the same people. I was compelled to know more about them and why those three scenes were so important in their lives. So, I started writing. Those scenes eventually became part of my first book, That Boy.
I love when dreams inspire reality! So, Keatyn, your main character in The Keatyn Chronicles, has a penchant for cowboy boots, and though you’re originally from Nebraska, you live in Dallas now. Has Texas inspired you in anyway and was it hard to adjust to the difference in culture between Nebraska and Texas?
I’ve always loved cowboy boots and still want a pair of red ones like the girl in the movie Footloose. When we moved to Texas, I loved how girls paired adorable dresses and shorts with boots. Keatyn visited her grandparents, who lived in East Texas, every summer, so it made sense that she would have picked up that love as well.
When she’s not visiting her grandparents, Keatyn initially lives in Malibu and is immersed in the surfer culture. Since Nebraska and Dallas are both landlocked, why did you decide to set her story there and have you always been interested in surfing or did you have to learn more about it for the book?
When I was in junior high, I wrote a musical set to The Beach Boys ‘Endless Summer’ and would act out all the scenes instead of cleaning like I was supposed to. I think a little of that came out in this series. I also researched surfing, professional surfers, the top surfing spots in the world as well as took research trips to Malibu, L.A, New York, and France.
Wow, can I come on your research trips next time? Those are all great, though very different, fashionable places. In some character interviews you’ve gotten very specific about where Keatyn likes to buy her clothes and what brands she loves. Fashion seems to be a big part of Keatyn’s life and your fandom. Does your own style inform Keatyn’s or do you draw inspiration for her fashion sense from somewhere else?
I was a Textiles, Clothing, and Design major in college and spent most of my career in retail related jobs, from store management, to buying, to selling manufacturer’s good to stores. I’ve always loved fashion and color. I learned how to sew when I was eight. My family owned a clothing store and it was really my first love. Because I wanted Keatyn to have an eclectic style that mixed high-end fashion with more reasonably priced brands, I found myself shopping online and using Polyvore to pull her outfits and uniforms together. I had to be able to visualize them myself in order to write about them. The Polyvore boards were something that was originally for research, but thought they would be fun to share. For the last book, I had the pleasure of shopping for Keatyn at Bergdorf’s with the director of shoppers. Shopping on an unlimited budget for a fictional character is really quite fun.
You mentioned writing musicals earlier, and that makes sense since you wrote some lyrics for the fictional boy band Twisted Dreams in The Keatyn Chronicles. How did you come up with the awesome idea to release an album for each book and how do you choose the tracks?
This question has a two part answer. As for the soundtracks that I do for each book, I listened to numerous songs and researched the lyrics to choose just the right songs to fit the scenes. The music also gave readers a little more insight into the scenes because sometimes the music told how characters were feeling even when they wouldn’t admit it themselves. I also have two college-aged kids who are always sending me songs. Really, with the clothes, the music, and the settings, I was trying to share the world I envisioned.
As for the songs that I had done for The Keatyn Chronicles’ band Twisted Dreams, that was a really fun project. One of the characters, Damian, is the lead singer for the band Twisted Dreams. Throughout the series readers have gotten to read some of his song lyrics. For the release of the last book, I wanted to do something special for my readers and have two of those songs actually recorded. I always envisioned Twisted Dreams sounding like the band The Click Five. I messaged their former lead singer, Kyle Patrick, and he was amazing in how he took my lyrics, set them to music, and performed them. The songs, Sorta Like Fate and Meet Me at the Beach turned out amazing!
That must have been really cool to see lyrics you wrote become real songs! Two elements of the plot are particularly interesting to me. First, Keatyn’s mom is a famous actress and second, Keatyn and her mother have to deal with a very adamant stalker. Did you do any special research to gain insight on what it was like to be the child of a celebrity and how it felt to be stalked?
I did a tremendous amount of research on stalking, celebrity stalking, and personal security firms. I studied real cases and real outcomes. Many of which weren’t happy. As far as Keatyn being the daughter of someone famous, I’m addicted to pop culture. You don’t have to look much further than the supermarket tabloids to find plenty of inspiration. The stalker was also the overall series’ protagonist. In my early plotting, I just had Keatyn going to boarding school because she wanted to go where no one would know who her mom was. But a girl like her would have a bad day and decide she’s ditching boarding school and, like, traveling to Europe instead. She had to have a reason to make her stay. The stalker became that reason. And he added a whole new layer to the story.
That makes sense. Now that the series is complete, you’ve probably had some time to reflect on it overall. What was your favorite scene to write and what was the hardest?
I think the scene I wrote and rewrote the most times was in the last book when Keatyn saves Brooklyn. That scene was very tense and I cried every time I worked on it. Keatyn is pretty badass in that scene, and as Keatyn grew in previous books, I found myself making that pivotal scene even bigger. But I also wanted it heartfelt. It was a delicate combination.
As for my favorite scene, I think that would have to be on Keatyn’s first day at Eastbrooke, when she did something daring, and came face-to-face with a certain handsome goalie. A boy so beautiful, she immediately nicknamed him the God of all Hotties. I also loved the scene when she wished on the moon. That scene set the whole series in motion.
Ending a big series is a lot of pressure. Were you worried that fans might want a different outcome than the one you chose when you were writing the ending?
Sometimes you write a book and then decide later to turn it into a series. I knew this was going to be a six book series from the start and plotted each book out in detail. Because there were so many clues and so much foreshadowing starting in the first book as to what would happen in the last book, I had to do a lot of planning.
My goal is to control your feelings. I wanted readers to go on a journey with Keatyn. To make mistakes with her and learn from them. To start over at a new school. To fall in love. I wasn’t worried about disappointing fans because it was all about Keatyn’s growth. Which boy she chose was what a lot of readers were worried about, but I knew her choice helped symbolize that growth.
Because I had planned who that boy was from the beginning, I couldn’t have changed it even if fans thought they wanted a different boy. My goal was to make sure they were in love with him as much as Keatyn was. I was super excited for the last book to finally be out. I’d been working on it for almost three years.
From what I can tell, your fans are very sad the series has ended. You have over 500 supporters on The IF List who want to see the Keatyn Chronicles come to life! Do you think it would be best as a film or a television show and who are some of the actors you envision for the production?
I think it would translate really well to TV, but movies would be amazing too. As for the actors, there are some really amazing choices on the IF List of actors that are very popular, but I could see this series casting a lot of lesser known actors. That being said, I do think Gabriella Wilde would make an amazing Keatyn. And I love Wyatt Nash for the Hottie God, Aiden. See all casting proposals for the Keatyn Chronicles >>
Tell us about your new series Captive Films. It’s a very interesting format that I’ve never seen done before. Will we be seeing it on The IF List?
I hope to see it on The IF List!
(Captive Films Season One >>)
Because of my love for reality TV and night-time soap operas, I wanted to create a series that felt like a TV show. I wanted it fast paced. Multiple points of views. When The Keatyn Chronicles series ended, the characters were in their late twenties. I thought about doing a more typical series of books, one for each character’s love story, but that seemed sort of expected. The beauty of being an Indie author is being able to try new things and see what happens. Season one is being released in six episodes, once a week for six weeks. The first two episodes are short, hour reads, the last four are longer 90 minute to 2 hour reads. I’m hoping it will become readers’ weekly guilty pleasure.
That sounds amazing! Time for some rapid fire questions:
Beaches or Mountains?
Burberry or Prada?
Romantic Comedy or Pure Romance?
James Franco or Ryan Gosling?
Can I have Dave Franco?
Goldfish Crackers or Pet Goldfish?
Ke$ha or Katy Perry?
Thanks so much for talking with us Jillian, we’re looking forward to the rest of Captive Films!
ABOUT THE KEATYN CHRONICLES:
Keatyn is the daughter of a famous actress and has everything she ever dreamed of – she’s popular, goes to the best parties, dates the hottest guy, and sits at the most-coveted lunch table. However, she begins struggling with whether she wants to keep up her act as her perfect life threatens to unravel. To add to the drama, her movie star mom has a creepy stalker and so she writes a new script – one where all the pieces of her life will come together in perfect harmony. Grab the first three here.
Season 1 of Captive Films has just been released!
Captive Films takes off from where The Keatyn Chronicles ended. This group of books will be written and released in serial format much like a television series. This season will contain 6 episodes and will be released a week apart, just like your favorite TV shows! And just like a TV series, it will be up to the readers how many seasons the show goes on. The series will be told from multiple points of view and you will see many of your favorite KC characters find love. Grab Captive Films 1.1