Jilly Wood is a former CEO and CFO who quit the corporate arena because life is short and writing fantastic fiction is a lot more fun than reading contracts or filing accounts.
She lives with her husband in a quiet corner of North London that has been settled since the fourteenth century. It was once a wealthy bishop’s densely wooded hunting park, and later became the haunt of highwaymen. Today its Georgian and Victorian houses sit on the fringes of the metropolis, but it still retains the basic street pattern of a Tudor settlement that grew up around a tollgate.
For more than thirty years Jilly traveled the world for work and pleasure, visiting some remote and spectacular corners of the globe. Now she draws on her treasure trove of experiences to create epic, fantastic, romantic adventure stories. Jilly has trekked to isolated monasteries in the mountains of Bhutan, explored the hidden rose red Jordanian desert city of Petra and walked the empty streets beneath historic Jerusalem, but she’s never seen anywhere as captivating as the mythical places built by the human imagination.
Jilly loves to hear from readers, so please get in touch using the social media icons below, or by using the contact form.
Your books are called Elan Intrigues and Elan Chronicles. What is elan?
Elan is an imaginary medicine, created by concentrating life energy into specially grown beans. The mysterious transformation process changes beans from ordinary, everyday foodstuff into hard-shelled, fragrant, shiny golden nuggets of elan, known as pulses. A pulse of elan can be grated and boiled into a tonic for internal use, or added to a poultice for external application. However it’s used, elan boosts the body’s own natural healing powers and gives near-miraculous results. It lasts almost indefinitely. Its desirability and limited supply mean that over time it has become increasingly expensive, a kind of alternative currency.
How did you get the idea?
The Elan Chronicles take place in a pre-industrial world. I asked myself what single thing the people in this world would prize more than anything else. I found the answer by thinking of trips I’d taken with my husband to remote communities that still live without the benefits of electricity or mechanized transport. The thing those villagers most wanted from us was our medical kit. Even simple painkillers were treated like gold dust. Anyone with first aid skills was politely mobbed. So I decided the most valuable commodity in my world would be a medicine that acted like a magic bullet. A variation on the idea of a universal panacea. A person or family with the monopoly supply of such treasure would enjoy great wealth and power—a position that could be used or abused. Those people would also be constantly under threat from rivals desperate to learn their secret.
Why is elan golden and shiny?
Partly because that’s a neat visual way to suggest that it’s valuable. But mostly for my own pleasure, because I am a magpie who loves shiny, sparkly things.
It’s scented, and it tastes delicious. What’s that all about?
Elan is a wonderful, natural medicine, so I wanted it to smell and taste like a complex concentration of some of the most glorious aspects of the world around us—sunshine and ripe fruit and rich spices. For myself, I always imagine it smells and tastes like Chateau d’Yquem, the legendary sweet wine from Sauternes, France. Tasting notes for great vintages of Chateau d’Yquem often talk of honey, pineapple, apricots, tropical fruit, caramel and spice.
So where does elan come from and how is it made?
That’s what everyone wants to know, but the royal family of Caldermor isn’t telling. You’ll have to read the books to find out!