From Littlehampton to Las Vegas for novelist Jeannie Neill
Littlehampton born and bred, but now living and writing in Las Vegas, Jeannie Neill has completed eight novels since 2019— “one of the few benefits of isolation!” she says.
The latest is Downfall (published by Lanni LV, priced between £9-10 for the paperback, approx £4.75 for the e-book, available on Amazon.co.uk, KDP, Barnes and Noble and most online outlets).
“I was born in Lyminster and lived in the Littlehampton area until I was almost 20.
“Tempted by the sunshine, I left for two years in Italy, almost five years in Beirut and on to the USA. In 2001 I met my now husband, an Australian, and over the past 20 years have been back and forth between Sydney and the USA—with frequent trips back to family in the UK. Since travel restrictions were imposed, we have remained in Las Vegas, not far from my son and his family.
“In many ways, I believe my writing is influenced by my formative years. To quote Rupert Brooke, ‘the thoughts by England given; Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day; And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness…’”
As for the latest book, Jeannie– who writes as J D Neill – explains: “When I was young, I read a phrase that stuck with me throughout my life. ‘If you would ensure a peaceful old age, be careful of the acts of your youth.’ I think, that is true. When we are young, many of us have little idea of the long-term consequence of our actions.
“In Downfall, the protagonist is initially obsessed with making money and achieving status. Unaware of his effect on others, he carelessly abandons a young wife and daughter and has no qualms about stepping on toes to achieve his goals. One too many, as it turns out.
“His business dealings include real-estate and vineyards in the USA, diamond mines in Africa, and property developments in Asia.
“Financially, he is wildly successful, women throw themselves at him, but it takes a huge financial loss and jail time for him to realise what is of real importance. He has found love,and satisfaction with a new family.
“Enlightenment comes too late, he pays a price for his past. Struggling with the impact of his life and his actions, those left behind face ongoing dangers as they try to learn who killed him and why.
“If a reader enjoys suspense, a taste of the exotic, a touch of romance, and in some, a psychological twist, I believe they will like my stories.
“Through the characters, I continue to learn.
“I have been fortunate and have travelled extensively, this enables me to incorporate many of these places in my stories.
“Downfall starts as Mark, the billionaire, is about to go to jail for his business practices.
“His empire has been attacked, and he wonders who has leaked corporate secrets. From there it follows his beginnings, the successes and failures and the impact his decisions have, long after he is gone. The danger does not die with him.
“Up until now, all my novels have been stand-alone. A couple hold the possibility of a future follow-on. When I first had thoughts about Mark Henderson, the lead character in this book, and his rise to wealth, I envisioned it as the first in a trilogy. But, about 60 pages in, he died, and I realised things had changed. Many of my original ideas were thus incorporated into this single story.
“I always thought Mark’s daughter Simone would have a sticky end, but with just a little love from her half-brother, she was willing to die for him, and I saw, that with a slight change in her life, she could have been an entirely different person. The ending surprised me. Perhaps her story is yet to be written.”
Jeannie added: “Since I began writing in 2019, I have written eight books. It is the only benefit from this period of isolation. When I started, it was to give life to my experiences during war in the Middle East. I thought I had ideas for six books. So far, with eight completed, and a book of short stories almost complete, inspiration keeps coming.
“Much of the last one, The Shattering Effect, takes place in Sussex, around Littlehampton, Rustington, and with a scene at The Black Rabbit, in Arundel. A chance for me to revisit my child-hood home.”