Jill Landgrebe comes back home after work each day and does what most people do — eats dinner with her family and relaxes.
Some of us watch TV; some of us read. To relax, Landgrebe goes down to the basement of her Grant Avenue house, clears off her desk and writes.
“I do my best writing at that time,” she said.
Currently, Landgrebe is working on her second book, a sequel to her first, Larkin’s Letters, which was published in June.
Larkin’s Letters is “a heartwarming love story — with some tragic elements,” said Landgrebe during a Sept. 27 interview in her home.
The two main characters, Ryan Boone and Larkin James, are two childhood friends who are deeply in love, she said. Their story is developed through a series of letters, said Landgrebe, who writes under the nom de plume of “Jax Jillian.”
On her website, Landgrebe said she decided to use a pen name to maintain her privacy and because it was easier to pronounce and recognize.
It’s not really giving away the plot to tell readers Larkin is diagnosed with leukemia and dies, and that the book recounts Ryan struggling with frequent visits from his wife’s ghost and the letters Larkin’s spirit leaves behind. A popular film actor, Ryan sacrificed his career to be by Larkin’s side during her illness. Throughout her ordeal, Ryan promised his wife she would not die alone, but, as the book’s publicity material says, “We learn that not all of our promises are within our control.”
The author said there was no specific inspiration for her first book.
“Writing is an escape for me, and I love Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson love stories, so that’s the genre I chose,” she said.
But she has some specifics on how she chose the names of her main characters. Ryan, she said, has always been her favorite male name. That’s why she chose it for the name of Larkin’s husband. It’s also why she chose to give the name to her son. Larkin, she said, was a name she heard on a TV show, and she liked it enough to use it for her tragic heroine.
Landgrebe, 36, grew up in suburban Harrisburg. She attended La Salle University for undergraduate studies and did her grad work at Temple U. She moved to Northeast Philly in 2009 when she got married. She works as a physical therapist assistant.
She began writing her novel in May 2011. Landgrebe said she would work out plot elements while “I’m lying in bed, about to go to sleep.” Often, too, she said, “Things will just happen while I’m writing.”
The book was complete by January 2012, and she began shopping it around to literary agents. An agent took Larkin’s Letters to Tate Publishing and Enterprises in Mustang, Okla., and Tate released the book on June 25.
The working title for the sequel she currently is writing is Ryan’s Letters.
Larkin’s Letters can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites, and at the author’s own site, http://jaxjill.wordpress.com ••