Jill McGown, creator of Lloyd and Hill

The crime-writing author of the Lloyd and Hill novels has been taught by the master of suspense himself.

Unfortunately Morse creator Colin Dexter's classes for the schoolgirl Jill McGown were in Latin!

"It wasn't until I had written my first novel and Colin had moved to Oxford, that I discovered my old Latin master from Corby Grammar School was a crime novelist," she recalls.

"I discovered that we shared the same publisher, Macmillan. We even began with the same editor, the late Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, the last of the gentleman publishers.

"Colin and I have been in touch since of course, and I've followed in his footsteps thus far. Let's hope it's a good omen for Lloyd & Hill!"

The creator of television's latest detective duo Lloyd and Hill admits she has only a hazy picture of what her characters look like.

Jill admits she is more interested in the personalities of her police protagonists.

So it was with a sense of curiosity that she travelled to the set of LLOYD & HILL to watch filming and meet Michelle Collins and Philip Glenister.

"Obviously I knew what both actors looked like, so I was interested in seeing things like how Judy Hill was dressed. By coincidence she was wearing something similar to what I had on that day!"

Lloyd and Hill first saw the light of day in 1983 when they appeared in Jill's first novel A Perfect Match.

Before becoming a full-time novelist, Argyll-born Jill had started writing short stories while working for the British Steel Corporation in Corby, where she has lived since she was ten.

"I had a story accepted by Radio 2, which, when it was read by an actress, gained a whole new slant. I like having that done with my work so I will be really interested to see a Lloyd and Hill story on screen.

"Even though I have lived with Lloyd and Hill for 18 years, I don't feel proprietorial about them."

Jill attributes her interest in crime fiction partly to her mother - "a great crime novel reader" - and speaks of Agatha Christie as one of her favourite authors.

"Even the stories I wrote at night after my day job tended to have a twist ending."

But she saw the redundancy she took from BSC as an opportunity to improve her writing.

"I knew that, with the redundancy money, I could afford to write. I had written novels but they weren't finished because I knew they weren't right."

Currently Jill has 11 Lloyd and Hill novels to her credit, with the next one due for publication in the summer of 2002. And she still continues the practice of writing in the evenings - and during the night - that she began while holding down her BSC job.

Recalling her creation of the two police officers, Jill says that Lloyd was the first to appear.

"I wanted him to be a Celt, but I thought to have made him Scottish would have pigeon-holed him and at the time for political reasons, I didn't want to have him come from Northern Ireland. That's why he ended up being Welsh!"

"He's not bad-tempered but quick to fly off the handle, which Judy Hill, who's very self-contained, finds upsetting."

Jill points out that when they first appeared in A Perfect Match, the 30-year-old Lloyd was 10 years older than the probationer Hill.

"I joke now that they live on Stansfield time - the fictitious town where the books are set - which is different to a normal time-span. Over the 12 books, and 18 years, they've probably aged about 10 years."

What do her loyal readers tell her about their appreciation of the books?

"They like the relationship between Lloyd and Hill, saying that they're the kind of people who could live next door or you could invite round for dinner."

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