Monday, March 15, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson is a novelist, dreamer, and believer. She writes stories that combine danger, suspense, and adventure for people of all ages. An avid reader, she started Novel Teen Book Reviews ( to help teens find great books to read. She lives in Oregon with her youth pastor husband and two book-loving children. Visit Jill at

How did you start out your writing career?

At first I wanted to be a speaker. I discovered that sometimes, people hire a speaker based on articles the person wrote for magazines. So, I looked into writing articles. Somewhere during all that research and writing, 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. Being teachable has really helped me, I think.

What was your most difficult scene to write?

The scene where Vrell finds Achan wounded after the battle and must tend to his arrow wounds. I knew nothing about medieval healing methods. So I had to do a lot of research. I discovered so much interesting information that the scene turned out great. I know that scene was stronger because of the research I did.

Have you had a "Wow" moment since you have been an author? What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

When I got my first email from a teen who loved my book. It felt really good, and I was able to email back and forth with that person for a few days. I like connecting with teens, encouraging them if I can. It makes it all worthwhile.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

My goal was to entertain teens with an exciting story that also presented truth. That there is only one God and that he is the desire of our hearts. No matter what we face, knowing him will make life more worthwhile. He created us for a purpose. If we want to know our purpose, we must discover him.

What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?

None! I can’t listen to music at all when I write. It distracts me because I start singing along.

If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?

First, C. S. Lewis. He was such a wise theologian, I would divulge my writing insecurities to him, ask if he ever felt that way, and if so, what he did about it.

Second, J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d show him my Blood of Kings binder where I kept all my storyworld brainstorming. I’d ask if he had something similar for Lord of the Rings and beg him to show it to me.

Third, Jane Austen. I’d tell her how much I love her stories and tell her I cry every time Elinor discovers that Mr. Ferrars is not married after all. I’d ask her for advice on how to make readers cry.

What movie had the greatest impact on you as a kid? Why?

Without a doubt: Star Wars, the whole original trilogy. We didn’t own a television set, but on my ninth birthday, my parents rented a TV and VCR and all three Star Wars movies. It was the most incredible day. Seeing those films opened up a new, wonderful door in my already-active imagination.

If you could be on a Reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

I’d have to give Project Runway a shot. I was a fashion design major in college, though I doubt I’d win. I’d probably get way too emotional and the cameramen would find me crying in the closet. :)

If you could visit any place in the world where would you travel to?

Europe. England and France, especially. I want to see real castles!

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That I am not a millionaire because I wrote a book. So far, I’ve spend as much money on marketing as I’ve made in royalties. It’s really discouraging to have people treat me like I’m rich when I’m actually quite the opposite. The term “starving artist” comes to mind. LOL

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry?

Finish your story. No one is going to contract your idea or a book that is only partially complete. I thank Mr. Steve Laube for that bit of reality check.

The worst?

That you need an agent. Most writers get to that point where they feel they are ready to be published. When that doesn’t happen, they believe it’s because they don’t have an agent. I heard many authors say, “You don’t need an agent.” And, “Don’t sign with the first agent to come along. Make sure he or she is a good fit.” But I didn’t listen, and I wish I had. Impatience causes so many writers to make mistakes that affect their career. Trust me, I’ve made them. But also trust me on this: even though patience is so very hard in this industry, the more patient you are, the more blessed you will be.

Can you give us one do for those aspiring to be a writer?

Make yourself write until you finish a book. Then write another one. The more you write, the more you learn. Then you can go back and see what needs rewriting. Most writers never even finish that first book. Or they start lots of books and never finish one. You can’t be an author if you never finish one. Set a goal and don’t give up.

One don’t?

Don’t be impatient! I doubt that Leonardo DiVinci or Piccasso were in a hurry to get their artwork done. Art is a labor of love and writing is art. Every word and scene matters. When you rush and get so impatient to get published, you do yourself an incredible injustice. If I could go back, I would have written my entire trilogy before I submitted book one to anyone. In doing so, my stories would have been stronger and could tie together better. But once a book is published. That’s it. You can’t make it any better.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I speak a little Japanese. I took Japanese in high school and spent a month on an exchange program to Okinawa, Japan.

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net.

Two that really helped me learn writing:

Randy Ingermanson taught me how to write a synopsis and blurb that helped me sell my first book. His Fiction 101 and 201 classes are amazing. He uses really great examples for the visual learner.

Jeff Gerke is an amazing editor. And he gives away his amazing advice for free on his website. If you read it and apply it, you will become a better writer.

And two I use every day as I write: An online dictionary and thesaurus. An online etymology dictionary that allows you to type in a word and find its origins. This is really helpful for historical writers. This way you can use words that people would use during a certain time period. I use this to help me find out whether a word goes back far enough to be medieval.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Readers can learn more about me and my writing at and can email me thought the website.

To Darkness Fled (Bloof of Kings, book 2)

Achan, Vrell, and the Kingsguard Knights have fled into Darkness to escape the wrath of the former prince. They head for Ice Island to rescue two of Sir Gavin’s colleges who were falsely imprisoned years ago.

Darkness is growing and only one man can push it back. Achan wanted freedom, not a crown. His true identity has bound him more than ever. He must learn decorum, wear fancy clothes, and marry a stranger. Achan knows one thing for certain. He will not be a puppet prince. Either he will accept his role and take charge or he will flee. But which will he choose?

Jill is offering a chance to win a copy of her book. Leave your name @ email address and you might be our lucky winner. (only those who leave an email are eligible)

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LaShaunda said...


Thanks so much for being our featured author today. I’m currently working on a middle grade fantasy and wondered if you have any tips on world building?

I’m also a fan of Randy’s. I’ve learned a lot about writing from him.

P.S. I still cry too when Elinor discovers that Mr. Ferrars is not married.

JC Martin said...

Great interview!

Jill, I must agree with you when you said to write until you complete a story, then write another one. The first story is so difficult to write, because you're not sure if you can keep it all going enough to be called a novel.

Thanks for the links that you have shared; some of them has caught my interest.

email: jcoissiereATcomcastDOTnet

Jill Williamson said...

Thanks for having me, LaShunda! I do have tips on storyworld building. I like to start by drawing the map. Then I've used a set of encyclopedias to look up similar countries, climate wise. That way I can learn what kinds of plants and animals and industry might go on in a similar place. I have lots of notes and have taught about this at writer's conferences, but I need to get it put online somewhere... If you have some specific questions, I'm happy to help.

Jill Williamson said...

You're welcome, JC. I hope you learn lots from those links. :-)

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