Posts Tagged Jill Edmondson
This time around, PI Sasha Jackson is investigating the murder of a porn star…
The drug addicted girl was a worthless nobody, so the cops aren’t putting much effort into finding out who killed her. Sasha takes on the case, and learns that the dirty picture business is way dirtier than it seems. She discovers surprising motives and even more surprising secrets, and just when she thinks she’s solved the case, another dead body turns up.
Meanwhile, Sasha’s private life is a shambles. Her brother is pissing her off, Sasha’s love-life is on the rocks, and her BFF has her nose out of joint over Sasha’s latest revelations. And then there’s the driving instructor, the locksmith and the glazier. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that Sasha has a credit card.
Why can’t everyone just chill out long enough for Sasha to get in a good jam session, or have a good night’s sleep?
Oh, for crying out loud, pass the Scotch…
Amy Steele: Jill, it’s been two years since the last Sasha Jackson mystery and since I interviewed you. What have you been up to in Toronto?
Jill Edmondson: Two years! Where did the time go? Let’s see, well, I ignored writing for a while and just did other things. I moved homes (what a pain), I traveled a bit (Italy, Peru, Bahamas, etc….), I got a dog, and then another dog (smartest thing I’ve ever done!), and I took my time writing Frisky Business. The three previous books came out in rapid succession; there was no need to rush with the next one. There were a few stretches of three or four or five months at a time when I didn’t look at Frisky Business at all.
Amy Steele: In Frisky Business you’re tackling the Canadian adult film industry. Why did you decide to focus on that?
Jill Edmondson: The book was totally inspired by chapter two of Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges. Hedges is one of my favourite writers, and Empire of Illusion is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time.
Amy Steele: What were the hardest aspects to write?
Jill Edmondson: For me, the hard part always seems to have less to do with subject matter, than with plot and clues and playing fair with the reader. Like, I could know that it’s Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Rope, but how in the name of Pete do I pen that without making it super-obvious, super early on in the book? Yikes, it’s hard to pepper in just enough clues, and to keep them just subtle enough.
Amy Steele: How did you research this novel?
Jill Edmondson: Mainly by reading the Hedges book, but anytime I noticed a newspaper or magazine article on the topic (or a related topic), I filed it away. Also, a wee bit of it was leftover from when I wrote a paper on Human Rights and the Sex Trade when I was doing my MA. The paper wasn’t on quite the same topic, but there was some overlap.
Amy Steele: What attracts Sasha to the sex cases as her brother pointed out? She’s almost an SVU PI.
Jill Edmondson: I’m not sure… I’m intrigued by themes of marginalization and I don’t like assumptions. In Frisky Business (and Dead Light District) the victims were victims even before the murder. People scoff at certain types of (or classes of) people and that makes me angry. Human beings deserve dignity. Who knows what circumstances led to a person (or character) being in such and such a place? Yet, because of their “lot in life” some people are easily dismissed. That’s bullshit. There but for the grace of Gawd…
Amy Steele: Sasha is my favorite feminist PI. Probably because she’s outspoken and she’s an advocate for women and women’s issues by taking the cases that she does. Though she never uses the word feminist. [She needs to be in a scene with a “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt or better yet a “I Stood with Wendy” shirt.] Was this your plan all along or has this just developed from the first book?
Jill Edmondson: I think it just is. Or she just is. Sasha sees something wrong and wants to right it. She appreciates freedom, autonomy, and fairness. Those things, or actually a lack of them, are common in the sex trade, and have been a part of women’s issues in general. Sasha’s values are very much my own.
Amy Steele: How do you think Sasha’s developing as a character? Do you have any particular goals set for her? How do you plan out character development?
Jill Edmondson: Goals? Yes and no. I had certain goals back in book one that I have since shelved or changed, but of course there are other things I have held on to. There has to be a logical progression, whether that means love life, or professional life, or what have you. For instance, in Blood and Groom (book #1) she was pretty broke, so it wouldn’t have made sense for her to be thinking about buying a house in Dead Light District (book #2).
One aspect of character development that I will have to start to address is her mother. I’ve pointedly not said much about mom so far, other than mom took off when Sasha was a toddler. But there is a bit of an abandonment issue that Sasha has kept buried, and at some point her natural PI instincts and curiosity will take over. I figure this will happen by book six or seven.
Amy Steele: Sasha balks when her boyfriend of only a few months wants her to move in. Why do you think Sasha doesn’t want to commit to any guy as a partner or live-in situation but yet she always seems to have a boyfriend?
Jill Edmondson: Sasha has a joie de vivre, and part of that includes romantic interest(s), but she won’t be able to commit until she is truly satisfied with other aspects of her life.
Ah, if only she could throw Mick, Derek and Houghton in a blender…
Each guy fills a need (music, friendship, stimulating conversation, etc.) but none of them hits the mark on all three things. Also, she’s known Houghton since high school, Mick from her early twenties band days, and Derek has been a professional acquaintance for a couple years. The three guys she has been involved with were all friends before they were ever romantic interests, and they remain friends. In a way maybe these guys are part of her extended family? Her “inner circle” is pretty tight, with close, cherished, long-standing relationships all around. Even her two BFFs, Jessica and Lindsey, have been around since they were in training bras.
Amy Steele: Sasha’s quite independent yet lives with her father and brother. She never explains that to the guys she dates. And no one ever asks. She thought about moving out this time around but it seemed she’s pretty comfortable still. How does she manage feeling independent even while living with her father?
Jill Edmondson: Before I began writing the first book, I had read a few articles and had seen a few news pieces about the growing trend of adult children returning home – much to the chagrin of their (wannabe empty-nest) parents. So, writing her home life as such seemed like a realistic thing to do.
I guess the dynamic of comfort and independence partly rests on the fact that there’s just one parent around instead of two. As well, her dad goes away a fair bit on his gambling trips. And Shane is hardly ever home because of the restaurant. So, there is a home life and bonds with family but they’re not in each other faces all the time.
There one more subtle point to her home life, I think, and that is that Sasha is confident enough and secure enough to know she’s a big girl. She’s not clinging to the apron strings because she has to or needs to. If a guy ever called her on her living situation, Sasha’s response would be: “Yeah, and? What’s your point?”
Also: Toronto is a bloody expensive city to live in!
Amy Steele: We’ve talked about your fondness for traveling, particularly to South and Central America. What are the top three places you want to visit?
Jill Edmondson: Just three?!?! So hard to choose… I am dying to visit Italy again. I spent a month there (~two years ago) and loved every minute of it, especially Sicily. There’s so much more to see!
I need to travel around South America. All of it! I’m happy to go any place where I can practice Spanish. I very stupidly DIDN’T zip over to Lake Titicaca while I was in Peru. Must rectify that…
And Scandinavia has long been on my wish-list… Expensive though. Note to self: Buy lottery tickets.
Amy Steele: You’re already at work on the fifth Sasha book. What can you tell me about it?
Jill Edmondson: You know, this is a funny accident, but it seems that the Sasha books alternate between “light” and “heavy” themes or tones (wedding, prostitution, fetish, adult films). As it happens, Odd Lang Syne will be a “light” book. It’s about Gina Gervais, a former teen idol. Gina is at the peak of her comeback, and she’s back on the top of the charts. Everything should be golden, but it’s not. She’s going through a nasty divorce, she’s got a stalker, and, oh shit, someone’s just released a sex tape of her. If that’s not bad enough, her estranged husband is murdered, and guess who’s the number one suspect?
Jill Edmondson is the author of the Sasha Jackson Mysteries. Frisky Business is the latest novel featuring PI Sasha Jackson. Purchase it at Amazon: Frisky Business (A Sasha Jackson Mystery)
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I’ve read about 100 books this year. These 20 made particularly lasting impressions.
1. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaajte [Knopf]
2. Caribou Island by David Vann [Harper]
3. The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanha [Greywolf Press]
4. A Stranger on the Planet by Adam Schwartz [Soho Press]
5. The Astral by Kate Christensen [Doubleday]
6. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett [Harper]
7. The Submission by Amy Waldman [F,S&G]
8. Irma Voth by Miriam Toews [Harper]
9. The Rape of the Muse by Michael Stein [The Permanent Press]
10. The Lies Have It by Jill Edmondson [Iguana]
11. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta [St. Martins]
12. My New American Life by Francine Prose [Harper]
13. Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward [Random House]
14. The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom & Party Girl by Marc Schuster [The Permanent Press]
15. The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen [Riverhead]
16. The Ringer by Jenny Shank [The Permanent Press]
17. Slant by Timothy Wang [Tincture]
18. The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen [Crown]
19. The Social Climber’s Handbook by Molly Jong-Fast [Villard]
20. Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson [Ecco]
The Lies Have It , by Jill Edmondson. Publisher: Iguana (November 2011). Mystery. Paperback, p. 252
Ex-band-member [who still happily drums in her spare time or to let off steam] turned PI Sasha Jackson ends up with the case of a murdered BDSM party organizer. The leather, whips, chains and lace type of affair. Sasha works the party with her friend Jessica. Early the next morning, someone shoots and kills an assless-chaps-wearing Ian. The bar’s owner asks Sasha to look into the case as he fears a decline in business. Did Ian’s BDSM lifestyle turn too violent and out of control or did something else happen? After some digging, resourceful Sasha finds that Toronto politics and kinky sex parties collide.
Edmondson thoroughly researches whatever she focuses on for the case. She describes Toronto like someone who lives in Toronto and loves Toronto. The good areas and the not so good areas. By reading a Sasha Jackson mystery the reader gets a true sense of place.
Toronto has some nice stretches of waterfront. Ashbridge’s Bay and Scarborough Bluffs in the east end are lovely, and Harbourfront, at the base of downtown, is pretty and vibrant, especially in summertime.
I’m not the typical mystery reader who reads mysteries the majority of the time and frequents the mystery section of the bookstores or library. I enjoy every John Grisham and the occasional Harlen Coben page-turner. It’s diverting to read a mystery to stir things up a bit. Author Jill Edmondson created a great character in Sasha Jackson. This makes me want to keep reading. Sasha keeps me in the pages. She’s honest, gutsy, liberal and independent (despite living at home with her brother and father). I can relate to her in so many ways. Other ways (her excessive drinking) I can’t.
This time around, Sasha seems quite hung up on attorney Derek. He’s out of town on a case but every time she mentions him she softens a bit too much for my liking. She also makes a point to state that she can still flirt with other men, appreciate good-looking guys etc. But I didn’t completely believe the Sasha-is-still-as-independent-minded-with-Derek-as-without. Or maybe just in a steady relationship as not in one. Of course I’m not suggesting that feminists don’t appreciate monogamy, relationships or marriage. Luckily there’s way more Sasha than there’s Sasha and Derek so I could forgive it and enjoy the twists in The Lies Have It.
If you’ve been reading my reviews, you know that I adore The Sasha Jackson mysteries– Blood and Groom and Dead Light District— by Toronto author Jill Edmondson. I met Jill via Twitter and we have quite a bit in common. We’re both single, childless, writers (though she’s published books and I’m in-progress) and strong feminists who like good music. Sasha Jackson is liberal, savvy, strong, daring and a fascinating private detective character.
Recently, Jill agreed to answer a few questions.
Amy Steele: Why did you decide to write mysteries?
Jill Edmondson: The short answer is because I’ve read so many of them, and I eventually began to read them with an analytical and critical eye. I did a fair bit of work on women in Crime Fiction when I was doing my MA. As well, for many years I ran a mystery book club, and a few years ago, I was a judge for the Arthur Ellis awards… in which I had to read over 50 mystery novels in four months! After reading as many as I had, I thought to myself “Hey, I can do this…”
Amy Steele: Is there some sort of fellowship of mystery writers?
Jill Edmondson: Yes, indeed there is. We trade-off tips about poisons, bullet wounds, and which cops are on the take. You must know the secret handshake to join the inner circle.
Amy Steele: How important is place to a mystery story?
Jill Edmondson: In my opinion, it’s very important. I believe that setting becomes a character (and I don’t think this applies exclusively to crime fiction). Each city has its own personality, its own vibe. Agatha Christie’s works wouldn’t be the same if they were set in Vancouver, and Raymond Chandler’s books wouldn’t be the same if they were set in Des Moines.
Amy Steele: I read an interview you did with another author on your blog. You mentioned that setting a story in Canada and its appeal to American audiences. Can you expound on that?
Jill Edmondson: The quick answer is that I like proving people wrong…
First of all, I live in Toronto (and have lived in Ottawa and Mexico as well). I have read tons of mysteries, and a high percentage of them are set in London, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and I’ve never lived in any of those places; nevertheless, I enjoyed the books. I like taking a little escape to the hard-boiled streets of LA or to Spenser’s Boston.
There seems to be a belief among Canucks (or at least among Canadian writers, agents and publishers) that if a book is going to “make it” it can’t have a Canadian setting. We’re told to substitute New York or Chicago for Toronto, Dallas for Calgary, and Seattle for Vancouver.
Let’s face it: Canada’s population is too small for a writer to achieve much $ucce$$ (this applies to musicians, actors, artists, etc. as well) and we need to “break into” the American market. While I recognize that we do indeed need to create a presence south of the border, I think it’s short-sighted and a bit parochial to buy into the myth that Americans don’t like reading a story set outside the boundaries of the USA.
Amy Steele: Your descriptions of Toronto make me want to visit very soon. How do you decide what to include and how much to say so that the story’s not overwhelming with detail or lacking detail?
Jill Edmondson: Many of the places Sasha goes are places where I’ve hung out, or neighbourhoods that I’ve lived in, or restaurants that I frequent, or bar where I worked when I was a student. I worked at The Pilot when I was in university, I love Café Diplomatico on College Street. Once upon a time I lived about two blocks from where the bulk of Dead Light District takes place. Woody’s (where Todd does his drag show) is real, so is the Wheat Sheaf (I went there for wings and beer when I was writing Blood and Groom), “Chadwick’s” is loosely based on Holt Renfrew, “Pastiche” is loosely based on Adega, Sasha’s office in Blood and Groom is where I once rented an office (with equally shady fellow tenants!), Sasha’s new office near St. Lawrence Market is one of my favourite parts of the city.
Best writing advice EVER: Write what you know. Sasha’s impressions of places generally echo my own, and she notices the same things that I do. An author I once met said that writing is about observations, that writers are observers, and I couldn’t agree more.
Amy Steele: What do you like best about Sasha?
Jill Edmondson: I love the fact that she has the balls to do things I never would or could (no matter how much tequila I had to drink) And I really wish I could sing and/or play the drums! She’s fearless and confident. .. Attagirl!
Amy Steele: What do you and Sasha have in common?
Jill Edmondson: Attitudinally and philosophically we are the same. I share Sasha’s views on religion (!!!), politics, diversity, and her short fuse for assholes and idiots. We’re both pretty open-minded and both try to be non-judgmental. We’re also more or less the same in terms of men and relationships (commitment phobic!!!) Neither of us likes plaid or cinnamon or the letter V.
Amy Steele: What makes a good mystery?
Jill Edmondson: You probably expect me to say something here about plot, but as important as the puzzle is, it’s not the key to a good mystery, in my humble opinion.
I think a good, solid, likeable character is paramount. So many mystery writers do a series featuring a sleuth or a detecting duo and readers have to like them, whether it’s Holmes & Watson, Sam Spade, Miss Marple, the Hardy Boys, Scudder, Elvis Cole, or Stephanie Plum. Readers have to want to get together again and again with their old friends.
Amy Steele: How do you come up with your story ideas?
Jill Edmondson: The view from my (old) apartment was the inspiration for Blood and Groom.
An essay on human rights and the sex trade, which I wrote as part of my masters, was the inspiration for Dead Light District.
The crazy-assed fetish parties in the place above a bar where I worked while in university were the inspiration for The Lies Have It (coming in Fall 2011).
You gotta agree: in and among all those bushes – with the roadways & train tracks – would be a great place to kill someone… I’m just saying.
I lived on the 23rd floor of the last building in picture #3 and this was the view from there (facing west).
Amy Steele: You wrote these first two novels, Blood and Groom and Dead Light District, rather quickly it seems. How did you do it? What kind of pressure did you have?
Jill Edmondson: Blood and Groom took six months, Dead Light District took five months.
I’m single, I don’t have kids, I rarely watch TV and I am pretty high energy once I finally get moving. I’m also impatient. Once I decided to do it, I just zipped along until it was done. More or less.
On the other hand, The Lies Have It was started in 2005 and took until Christmas 2010 to finish (it still needs to be edited).
I had the hardest time making the plot work for this one, but the idea always struck me as good, so I never gave up on it, but it did spend a lot of time on the back burner.
I work somewhat flexible hours (teaching), so I take advantage of the breaks (summer, Christmas, Reading Week, etc.) to really crank it out. I like to write/edit in long stretches – I can plug away for twelve hours at a time. But then I may not even think about it for three weeks. My approach is similar to the way I tackled essays when I was a student: procrastinate and then do a marathon. It works for me, so far.
Amy Steele: What do you like best about being a writer?
Jill Edmondson: I love interacting with/hearing from readers. The writing process itself is a bit of everything – frustrating, exciting, tedious, creative, but the end result (however I manage to get there) really leads to a good feeling.
Authors write so that people will read what they’ve written. You’re putting something out there – whether it’s a poem, a novel, an article – for someone to read, and it’s essentially one-sided communication. So reactions (at a library Q & A, at a store signing, via Facebook or “fan letters” and such) are welcome, and important, and immensely satisfying.
This isn’t to say that all of the responses from readers have been positive, but I am glad to say that very few have been negative or even lukewarm reactions. The positive stuff makes me feel all warm and fuzzy (and maybe even a bit puffed up!), but I pay special attention to anything that’s lukewarm or negative; I learn from it and keep it in mind for the next book.
One fucking reviewer of Blood and Groom said there was too much fucking swearing in the fucking book, so I fucking toned it down for book fucking two. Actually, that’s a lie; in Dead Light District there’s probably just as much swearing as in book one, but I “cheated” and substituted a lot of Mexican slang/swearing for the F bombs. The same reviewer still said she’d like to wash the characters’ mouths out with soap… Guess she knows what pinche, pendejo and chinga mean.
buy the books: Dead Light District (A Sasha Jackson Mystery)
Dead Light District , by Jill Edmondson. Publisher: IGUANA (2011). Mystery. Paperback, 264 pages.
This is Jill Edmondson’s second Sasha Jackson novel and it’s even better than the fast-paced Blood and Groom. This time around a “Gentleman’s Club” proprietor hires private investigator Sasha Jacskon’s to find a missing call girl. The case provides ample dilemmas for outspoken feminist Sasha. Dead Light District makes the reader adore Sasha even more.
I’ve only been an investigator for about a year and a bit, and it’s a more challenging and dangerous job than I ever imagined. I got into sleuthing when I gave up on singing. There are days when the music biz in Toronto seems a more solid and stable profession than private investigating. And, there are times I really miss performing, although some would say that’s exactly what my current job entails.
Edmondson has added exactly the right amount of research to this novel to provide background information and advance the plot but not bog the reader down in details. Sasha learns about sex trafficking, sex trade and prostitution—probably more than she’d ever expected. It disgusts and scares Sasha to think about the mistreatment and exploitation of women throughout the world. This provides her with a moral dilemma at times in searching for the missing Mexican call girl, Mary Carmen. Did Mary Carmen leave on her own accord or was she kidnapped or did a former pimp find her? When a pimp is found murdered, for Sasha, all signs point to Mary Carmen and she’s not so sure that’s all that bad a thing. Couldn’t Mary Carmen have acted in self-defense? Edmondson has created the ideal character in Sasha Jackson—liberal morals, ex-drummer/singer turned PI, single woman over 35 who’s sassy and fun. Dead Light District makes the perfect summer read as it speeds along and follows Sasha’s train of thought as she works to solve the case.
purchase for Kindle on Amazon: Dead Light District (A Sasha Jackson Mystery)
Blood and Groom , by Jill Edmondson. Publisher: Dundurn Press (2009). Mystery. Paperback, 256 pages.
The navy linen slacks and white silk blouse I had on was my standard job interview uniform, from back in the days of yore, whenever I had looked for a real job, which was rarely. I think I had always been destined to work for myself. Something about rules and office politics and playing well with others had never clicked for me.
Sasha Jackson is one of the best literary characters I’ve discovered of late. She’s an edgy and unconventional ex-musician turned private investigator. I completely related to her artistic sensibilities, individuality and opinionated nature. After quitting her band and boyfriend, Sasha set up her own shop while working as a phone-sex operator on the side. She doesn’t particularly like working for other people or sticking to the typical 9-to-5 hours. In Blood and Groom, a brash art dealer hires Sasha to find out who killed her ex-fiancé.
Canadian author Jill Edmondson spins a marvelous yarn with a biting sense of humor. She shines a bright light on Toronto and uses some fabulous phrasing—“you have a pharmacopoeia cornucopia.” Biting humor, pop references and colorful characters make Blood and Groom a fun read.