Sunday, March 17, 2024


Set in 1977 ~ Joleigh Moore lives an almost reclusive life on her small farm in Missouri. But when she witnesses the murder of her boyfriend, Mack, she worries the assailants will come after her next.

Planning to hide out until Mack’s killers are caught, Joleigh stows away in a neighbor’s station wagon and lands in a small Minnesota town. Later, she discovers a large amount of cash in her journal and realizes Mack must have hidden his drug money there. Joleigh now has what the men were willing to kill for.

Joleigh takes a summer job and moves into an old run-down cabin in the woods. As she gets to know the townspeople and becomes more and more involved with them, the place she once considered temporary could be her chance for a new beginning. But before Joleigh can have a future, she’ll be forced to deal with her past.

Early reviews:

Beautifully crafted, Closer to Home, is a compelling, fast-paced adventure with a plot that starts off at rocket speed and doesn't let up. Set in the seventies, Jill Hannah Anderson takes the reader back to a simpler time, and I found myself completely lost in the setting and the story, and rooting for the remarkable cast of characters she created.  ~Suzanne Redfearn, #1 Amazon bestselling author of In an Instant

"You'll cheer for this kind, resilient young woman who lives off the land, and a Vietnam Veteran constrained by emotional war wounds, in this story of optimism despite loss as they struggle to find their place in the world. A heartwarming read of what it feels like when you find the place you were meant to be."  Barbara O'NealWSJ and USA Today bestselling author of When We Believe in Mermaids

Closer to Home, an emotionally resonant tale, explores the complexities of relationships and the transformative power of love. If you are looking for a book that combines suspense, heart, and the triumph of the human spirit, this story is a must-read."  ~ Hope Gibbs, Award-winning author

"This is a heartwarming, fast-paced, small-town story of a fiercely independent young woman who not only survives but flourishes through the odds stacked against her." ~ 
 Donna Norman-Carbone, Award-winning author

An interview with myself:

What, or who, inspired this story?

A friend suggested I write about the many people in our rural area who could easily live off the land. I'm in awe of people like that (my husband is one of them) because I wouldn't last a day on my own in the wilderness!

I don't watch much TV but I am drawn to "reality" shows like ALONE that portray these types of resourceful people. So it was an easy decision to create a story about a young woman with these qualities. As with all my books, the story takes place in a small Minnesota town. This story is set in 1977-78, which was a fun era to research and write about. 

Characters often appear out of nowhere for authors. Did that happen for this story?

Yes! I had a rough idea of who the two main characters, Joleigh and Franklin, would be in the story, and that Joleigh would have an elderly adoptive mother and a very temporary boyfriend, but that was it.

Within the first few days of beginning the story, I realized I would have at least one Vietnam Veteran because of the time period. I ended up with three. And one, Moe, was definitely a surprise. He wouldn't get out of my head, and he ended up being one of my favorite characters.

I also resurrected Bits, a young girl in the story. She had initially been in early drafts of CRAZY LITTLE TOWN CALLED LOVE, but she wasn't needed for the plot. She fits perfectly in CLOSER TO HOME. Joleigh needed her, and Bits needed Joleigh.

Also, Ruby, the owner of the cafe, pushed her way into the story. Initially, she was going to be nothing more than the owner of Ruby's Cafe. But she had other plans and I just stood out of her way and let her tell me her story.

What is the message(s) of the story, and what inspired it?

Humans, at our core, simply want to be loved and to belong. It's why we join communities, clubs, etc. and in Joleigh's case, she had a tumultuous childhood until Unity gave her what she craved: love and a sense of belonging.

When Unity passed away, it forced Joleigh to look to her future. It wasn't until her boyfriend's murder (in chapter one) that Joleigh is forced to leave the place where she felt loved and felt like she belonged.

Home isn't always where we think it should be. It isn't always where we're "planted." Sometimes we have to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone to find the place that will help us bloom.

Until I was seven (the age Joleigh was when her parents died) our family moved around a lot because Dad was a pilot in Vietnam. I wanted a permanent home so bad that I remember when we were moving from Florida to Minnesota I cried when I found out we had to leave the hotel we had stayed in. I'd been told we were moving to a permanent home (Dad had just left the Air Force.) In my mind, that first hotel was our new home. I was devastated to get back in the car! Without realizing it, I wrote that same craving for permanence into Joleigh's story. 

How do you choose character names for your stories?

Sometimes the character just appears with a name I can't imagine changing. The young girl in this story, Bits, is an example. Her real name in the story is Elizabeth. I also look at the character's age, and whether I want a common name or make them unique. Joleigh, in this story, got her name from my two daughters' middle names: Jo and Leigh. Franklin's younger brother, David, in this story, was always David, a common name for his age (he would have been born in the late 1950s.)

I try to not repeat names, but in book #5, there's also a David, and he's a main character. It was too late for me to change the name in CLOSER TO HOME because he was cemented as David in my head after writing a couple of drafts. And I couldn't not name the character in book #5 David, because he is based on a real person named David, and I can't imagine calling that character anything else!

What is up next in your writing world?

I'm finishing up the final draft of my fifth(!) book, and honestly, I can't believe it. Sometimes none of this seems real, but if I look back and think of the many, many thousands of hours I've sat at the computer brainstorming (and agonizing, self-doubting, fuming, chocolate-eating, butt-widening, daydreaming, questioning-my-sanity was done during those hours) then I know that yes, I've put the time in for those five books.

Book #5 is loosely linked, via a Vietnam POW bracelet, to CLOSER TO HOME. You'll have to read this book to get a glimpse into how the POW bracelet appears in the story, and just know that said Vietnam Prisoner of War will be found in book #5. 

If you follow me on social media (Facebook and Instagram) then you'll likely have seen my posts about a POW bracelet and its significance.

Wrapping things up... final words?

First off, thank you to my early readers (ARC readers) who have helped generate interest for CLOSER TO HOME (and my earlier books.) Early readers/reviewers are so helpful, and I appreciate their time.

Writing a book is only a sliver of what it takes to be an author today. Writing a book and meeting with book lovers at events are my favorite parts. But in today's world, it takes much more. Marketing is a time-consuming but necessary part of the book world, so let me say how much readers are appreciated when they spread book love. As I tell everyone, reviewing and recommending books helps authors and fellow book lovers!

Also, I made a Spotify playlist (free) of the many songs referenced in CLOSER TO HOME (and a few extras.) Click this link: CLOSER TO HOME playlist

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