Monday, March 9, 2009

Author Q&A: Jill Williamson

EDITOR'S NOTE: J. Louise Larson, blogmistress for The Writing Porch, interviews published authors. To be considered, email her at jackielarsonwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. Larson's work has been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Dallas Morning News and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the managing editor of the Ennis Journal and a contributor at the Waxahachie Daily Light. She co-authored a nonfiction career guide for FabJob Publishing in 2006, and has just finished a novel, At High Tide.

Jill Williamson is the author of Darkness Hid: The Blood of Kings, Book One (April 1, 2009 from Marcher Lord Press)

A freelance editor, the Eastern Oregon resident loves to read and started Novel Teen Book Reviews ( to help teens find great books to read.

"We review books for ages 8-12, 12-16, and 16 and up. Our site has a search box that helps readers find books by age, genre, or gender. I also run, a website devoted to encouraging young writers," Williamson said.

Teenage Authors has a yahoo critique group where teens can post their work for review. Williamson's husband has worked as a youth pastor for eleven years, so the John Day, Oregon native has had lots of experience working with teens.

What's your book about?

By Darkness Hid is a medieval fantasy novel about a "stray" named Achan. "Strays" are property ranked lower than slaves. Sometimes Achan has feelings about things before they happen. Sometimes he senses when someone intends to abuse him.

One day Sir Gavin, famed hero of the Old Kingsguard, offers to secretly train Achan in the ways of knighthood. Since Achan senses kindness from the Sir Gavin, he accepts his offer, eager to make a new life for himself. Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, Vrell’s mother is under pressure to marry her off to an evil lord. Vrell dons men’s clothing to conceal her identity and uses her mental communication ability to vanish into the world of men. Forces of darkness have become aware of Vrell and Achan’s gifts and seek to seize their powers. While Vrell knows how to use her gift, Achan’s gift is unstable and could be used to overthrow the world.

Where can we find your work?

You can read a sample chapter and endorsements on my website. My articles have appeared in Brio, Brio & Beyond, Devo’Zine, and Shine Brightly. I also have a children’s missionary book that will release from Beacon Hill Press in 2010.

When did you get your start in writing?

At first I wanted to be a speaker. I discovered that sometimes, people will hire a speaker based on articles in a magazine, so I looked into writing articles. Somewhere in there I started a teen fiction novel. It was so fun that I lost interest in speaking and writing articles. When a writer’s conference came to town, I signed up right away. I couldn’t believe how much I had to learn. When I got home, I did everything that the conference speakers had recommended.

What does your writing routine look like?

When I’m brainstorming something new, I tend to carry a notebook around with me everywhere. I just think and think and jot down ideas. Eventually I flesh that into a rough outline, then sit down and try to write the whole book as fast as I can. It usually takes me about a month. The first version is always a bit of a mess, but rewriting is my favorite part. Once I’ve written that first draft, I know my characters much better. Sometimes I need to sit down and brainstorm some more to fix plot holes or work on characters who weren’t quite developed enough. So I’ll carry my notebook around some more until I’m ready to fix those things. Once I’m fairly happy with my rewrite, I start feeding chapters to my awesome critique group. Once the whole book has been read by them, I do another rewrite and it’s pretty much done. Sometimes it helps to set it aside and work on another book. Then I come back to it later and read it. This way I can catch things I might not have seen before.

Tell us some writers whose work you admire.

Ted Dekker, Eric Wilson, Frank Peretti, John Olson, Bill Myer, and Anthony Horowitz for the genres I like to write. Jane Austen, Jenny B. Jones, Lisa Samson, Francine Rivers, Melody Carlson, Megan Whalen Turner, and Cathy Gohlke for other genres that I enjoy reading.

What are you working on next?

I am working on the second book in the Blood of Kings series. I also have a Christian spy kids series and a mad scientist series that I’m working on sequels to.

What made you decide to write a fantasy novel?

I just really like them. The more I started brainstorming, the more excited I was to begin. Plus, I felt that there was a short supply of edgy Christian fiction for older boys to enjoy.

What challenges did you face with this book?

Researching medieval medicine/healing was the hardest. When I really started looking, though, it was fascinating. I know my scenes are much better because of all the research I did. The sword fighting in my book also improved greatly as a result of my research.

What advice would you have for other writers/would-be writers?

Just write that book. Make yourself do it until you finish the whole thing. Then write another one. The more you write, the more you learn. Then you can go back and see what needs rewriting. Read a writing craft book every so often and read other fiction novels in the genre you like to write. I have a list of writing books on the “For Writers” page of my website.

Favorite Links:

Book review site:

Teen Writers site:

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