Reader emails (99% awesome, 1% waaah, leave me alone)

So my new book, THE BUTCHER, came out last Tuesday (yay!) and among the many awesome things that happen when a book is released are the lovely emails I get from people I've never met.

It's out now! This would make a lovely gift for someone, yes? *hint hint*

Obviously I'm not talking about those spam emails for sexual dysfunction pills or online dating sites (which I get anyway, and have nothing to do with releasing a book). The emails I'm referring to are from folks who, from somewhere in the world, have read my book and liked it (or were annoyed by it!) enough to send me an email about it.

99% of the reader emails I get are absolutely delightful. I make a point to respond to every single one, though I may not always be timely (and I'm sorry about that, as writing and that pesky thing called life can sometimes steal all my energy for the day). But I do always reply, and usually quite joyfully. I love talking to readers! Hell, I would love talking to readers even if I wasn't a writer. We're a unique little club, we are.

Here are a few examples of the delightful emails I receive:

Dear Jennifer,

I loved your book FREAK! You kept me up way too late last night reading, but it was worth it! I have to know, what happens to Abby?




Dear Jennifer,

My mom lent me her copy of CREEP, and I loved it and have passed it along to my friend Myrna, who said she'll finish it by tomorrow, and then lend it to her coworker Alan, who loves thrillers.

Yours truly,

*extremely delightful*


Dear Jennifer,

I'm such a fan of your work and can't wait to dive into THE BUTCHER! I've just ordered it and so did everyone in my family and social circle, and everyone in their families and social circles as well. You're just that amazing.

Love and adoration,

*ridiculously delightful* *and also a total fantasy, this has never been emailed to me* *but one can hope*

But not every email is delightful. I would say a full 1% of the emails I get are decidedly non-delightful.

Here are a few examples of the non-delightful emails I get:

Dear Ms. Hillier,

I have read your novel CREEP and while I thought it was okay, I counted and you used the word 'fuck' 96 times. I get that your book is about a sex addict and a serial killer, but why so much profanity? For that reason I can't recommend this novel to anyone and I highly recommend that you refrain from using such harsh language in your future books.


*well, fuck*


Dear Jennifer Hillier,

I just finished reading FREAK. I used to be an inmate at a maximum security prison and I did not think your prison scenes were realistic. If you want to hire me as a consultant for your next book, I would be happy to make sure you get your facts straight. We can discuss payment at a later date. What's your home address?

Yours truly,

*what the hell*


Dear Jennifer,

I enjoyed your book, but couldn't help but notice the following errors/typos/inaccuracies:

p. 43 - error
p. 92 - error
p. 101 - typo
p. 289 - inaccurate - did you get this from Google?


*waaah* *curls up into fetal position, sucks thumb*

Non-delightful emails instantly remind me that what I do is creative and subject to public opinion. Everybody who reads a book is absolutely entitled to say what they think about it, and not everybody will like it, for lots of reasons. And that can be hard for someone like me, who's a "people-pleaser" by nature. But if you want to publish a book, then feedback in all its forms are part of the package that publishing comes with.

Also, mistakes in a novel will still slip through to the finished product, despite the fact that the book has been revised at least four times by me, and worked on with an editor (usually twice), and then a copy editor, and then edited again using the professionally typeset pages another two more times. Mistakes suck, but they happen (and I still want to stamp my feet in frustration when they do).

But then a delightful email pops into my inbox, and all is right with the world again.

* * *

ThrillerFest & THE BUTCHER

The most wonderful time of the year is when my new book releases at the same time as my most favorite conference!

It's July, so of course I headed to NYC for ThrillerFest, which is THE place to be if you're a writer (or fan) of the genre. Can you believe this was my fifth trip? FIFTH!

As usual, it was a whirlwind trip, filled with lunches and dinners and panels and interviews and work stuff and fun stuff, oh my.

The fun stuff:

Dinner with my good friend Hilary Davidson and her husband, Dan at Rosa Mexicano, my new favorite Mexican place.

An evening at the Comedy Cellar in the West Village with my good friend David Batista, where Aziz Ansari just happened to stop in and do a set! Followed by a killer dinner at my new favorite Cuban place, Cuba.

Waiting for the subway at Grand Central. Darren and I were trying to pretend as if we were real New Yorkers, but if David hadn't been with us, we have gotten so lost.

Dinner with my good friends Alex and Dean in Chelsea at GustOrganics, my new favorite organic restaurant.

This was actually at Bareburger, where we had fattening milkshakes for dessert AFTER our extremely healthy dinner. Gotta keep it balanced, ya know. Alex and I always do a selfie when we get together – why break tradition?

Uh... can you tell I love food? Every food is my favorite food while I'm eating it!

The work stuff (which also happens to be fun stuff):

An on-camera interview with Jessica Mazo from Martini Productions.

This was very cool! I'll a post a link when the interview is up on their site.

My panel, called "Going Out or Going Online?", where Chelsea Cain, Christopher Rice, Heather Graham, LA Starks, and Lisa Gardner and I discussed book tours vs. social media promotion, with our panel master Jenny Milchman. Our panel was packed! Standing room only.

A savvy panel attendee pointed out the shattered glass in the picture behind where Chelsea and I were sitting. Bullet hole? Sling shot? It was, like, SO TOTALLY APPROPRIATE.

Finally got to say hello in person to ThrillerFest Award nominee Owen Laukkanen! We only have about a bajillion mutual friends, so it was about time.

You can't tell how tall Owen actually is from this picture. He scrunched down for me.

Lunch with my agent from Levine Greenberg Rostan, Victoria Skurnick, and my publicist from Gallery Books, Stephanie DeLuca, at SipSak, a yummy Turkish restaurant.

A podcast interview with Cary Barbor from Books and Authors, in a very cool studio.

Fun times at the studio! I'll post a link to this one too when it's up.

I finally got to meet Shannon Raab, the Creative Director of Suspense Magazine. I wanted to hug her but refrained – after all, we just met! But Suspense Magazine has been so, so good to me, and to my books.

And of course, ThrillerFest is always the first place you can buy my new book! Here's THE BUTCHER on the front table at the conference... always so exciting to see it on sale for the first time.

This never gets old.

By the way, the book is out today! Yay! Click HERE for buy links... or go look for it at your local bookstore!

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Good reviews are like chocolate...

You want to stuff yourself silly and enjoy the high!

I know I promised I wouldn't brag too much about THE BUTCHER here, but please forgive me one more time. The book just got great reviews from both Fresh Fiction and RT Book Reviews, and I'm so giddy I might just pass out!

From Fresh Fiction:
Jennifer Hillier's THE BUTCHER is a rapid-fire thriller of dark, unsettling proportions with some very surprising twists. With the turn of each new page, the suspenseful plot is tense and gripping. Even knowing the identity of the Butcher does not diminish the excitement of figuring out just how everything will be resolved. THE BUTCHER is a skillfully penned tale of murder and cover-up that will keep readers enthralled until the powerful finish. Thriller fans should not miss THE BUTCHER!

From RT Book Reviews (a scan from their current issue, where THE BUTCHER is a TOP PICK!):

Woo hoo! Let's go celebrate... chocolate for everybody!

* * *

Kirkus reviews THE BUTCHER!

And they liked it! *cartwheels* *hand springs* *mild injuries* *don't worry I'm okay*

From the July 1st edition of Kirkus:
Thirty years ago, Seattle Police Capt. Edward Shank put down a serial killer dubbed the Butcher. Edward’s bullet ended Rufus Wedge’s sorry life. But did the killings end?

Hillier’s (Freak, 2012, etc.) third thriller fairly shudders with tension. Edward is ready to retire to an assisted living facility and give his grandson, Matt, the family home, a beloved Victorian in a posh neighborhood. An up-and-coming chef, Matt has parlayed his successful food-truck business into Adobo, the hottest restaurant in town, and the reality show networks are calling. The only trouble is that his girlfriend, Samantha, can’t understand why Matt hasn’t invited her to move in, too. After all, they’ve been together for three years. Pressuring Matt, though, isn’t getting her anywhere, and even their friend—well, really Sam’s friend—Jason is a little mystified. Certainly, Matt’s history of anger management trouble gives Jason pause. While Matt renovates the house and works late, Sam turns back to researching her latest true-crime book. This time, she has a personal investment. She’s convinced that her mother was killed by the notorious Butcher. Bored at the retirement home, Edward has become an invaluable sounding board. Like the Butcher’s other victims, Sam’s mother was raped, strangled and left in a shallow grave. Unfortunately for Sam’s theory, her mother was killed two years after Rufus Wedge’s death. Meanwhile, Matt’s contractor has unearthed a crate filled with gruesome artifacts. As Matt investigates the crate’s contents and Sam questions a mysterious informant, their romance unravels and the body count begins to rise. Hillier sends her reader into a labyrinth of creepy twists and grotesque turns. There’s no escape from the brutal truths exposed.

The secrets of the past refuse to keep quiet in this disquieting, taut thriller.
 So so so so happy!

THE BUTCHER is coming July 15th! Have you preordered? You can do it right here with a couple of clicks:


* * *

My tweet made The Tonight Show!

This might be the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me!

Jimmy Fallon does a segment every week on The Tonight Show where he picks a hashtag on Tuesdays and invites people to tweet something funny about it. He posts the best ones on the show on Thursdays. This week it was #WorstSummerJobs... and he picked mine!

Mine was the very last one, but watch them all, they're hilarious!

My life is made.

* * *

It's that nail-biting, gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking time of year

... otherwise known as, The Weeks Leading Up to Release Day.

My wonderful, loving, well-meaning friends and family like to ask me, "So, are you excited for The Butcher to come out? Huh? Are you? Huh?"

Excited? Would I use the word excited? I don't know that I would, exactly.

Don't get me wrong, I do feel excitement. It's definitely there, threaded in with the EXTREME NERVOUSNESS OF PUTTING A NEW BOOK OUT INTO THE WORLD THAT PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY READ AND HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT.

Sorry, I don't mean to shout. It's just that when I think about my upcoming release day – and this is how it was for the first two books as well – my brain can only process the monumental event in ALL CAPS.

Because it's genuinely scary. I've written something that I've worked hard on, and that I feel an emotional connection to. And of course I'm completely invested in whether or not it will do well. So it's terrifying in a lot of ways to imagine it out there, being bought, being borrowed, being read, being discussed... I don't know that it's possible to ever get used to it, or to ever take it lightly.

Imagine being naked, and standing in glass booth, and having people you don't know walk by and stare at you and make comments about your naked body. Imagine how exposed and self-conscious you would feel (unless you're a Playboy Playmate, but hey, they get airbrushing). That's kind of what it feels like.

I could even take that one step further, since I'm working on a new book right now. Imagine being at the gym naked, working out (okay, this is sounding like a bad recurring dream), and having people stare at you and make comments about your body while you're trying to do a plank.

I know it's part of the job. I signed up for this, every bit of it. You can't cherry pick the parts you like about writing and then pretend the rest of it doesn't exist. It's a package deal. The scary is mixed in with the awesome. I follow (stalk) a lot of popular, bestselling authors on Facebook and Twitter, and am relieved to see that they still get nervous too, even after multiple books and a long, successful career.

So whenever I feel faint, which is often these days, I try to remember I'm in good company.

* * *

It doesn't feel like a Monday...

... because there's just too much good news! Two AMAZING reviews for THE BUTCHER just came in, and I had to share.

From Suspense Magazine's upcoming July issue:
"Once I got started I couldn’t stop reading, and I confess to having sweaty palms a few times. A thrill ride that will have your attention from start to finish! This one is 4.5 stars."
The full review will be available in the July 2014 issue! Subscribe HERE.

From Dead End Follies:
"THE BUTCHER is a clever, twisted thriller about genetics, faith, and death . . . The greatest thing about THE BUTCHER is its uncanny ability to trump the narrative conventions of the conventional serial killer novel over and over again . .  Jennifer Hillier's prose remains fast paced and immensely readable as her content becomes quirkier and more cerebral with every novel."
Read the entire review HERE (and I hope you do, it's so insightful!). As a side note, I want to praise Dead End Follies in general for being such a unique place to read reviews. Ben goes deep. Really deep. It's such a treat for both authors and readers, so be sure to stop by.

I also have a new website! Well, same name, different look. I hope you like it. Click to visit.

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Short note from the Serial Killer Files management team (a.k.a. me) to my fellow bloggers: The comments feature has been disabled for now. I feel horrible when you stop by and take the time to say something awesome, and I don't always have the time to reciprocate by commenting on your blog (even though I almost always stop by). Please know that I so appreciate you reading! I hope you know that I'm reading, too, even though I can't always let you know that I was there. Thank you .