And now, for the interview. Here goes...
1. How long have you been writing?
I started writing in 2004, so seven years now.
2. When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author? Did you ever want to be something else?
All my childhood I wanted to be a fashion designer. That’s what I went to college for. I chased that dream all the way to New York City. But after a few years working in that industry, I discovered it wasn’t the job I dreamed it would be. And I decided that it wasn’t for me.
After that, I searched for a while, trying to discover the purpose God wanted for my life. Since I had a pretty interesting childhood/life story, I thought God wanted me to be an inspirational/motivational speaker for teens. I discovered that sometimes, people hire speakers based on articles written by the speaker. So I looked into writing articles. I was working on all that when a new Harry Potter book came out, and a new barrage of debates within the church community flared up as to whether or not the books were bad for Christians to read. The debate inspired me to write my own teen novel that Christians would love. Yes, I was a bit naive. I have since learned that no one likes every book. But that’s how I got started writing fiction.
3. How long did it take to write your first book "By Darkness Hid?" How long did it take to edit it?
Well, By Darkness Hid wasn’t the first book I wrote. It was the sixth book I wrote. The first book, a spy kid story, took me about three years to finish. In December 2007, I wrote the first draft of By Darkness Hid in a month, and I spend the next seven months rewriting/editing it.
4. Who's your favourite character in your own "Blood Of Kings" novels?
Achan. I love how he’s a fighter, yet he humbles himself when necessary. I like how he rose above his abuse and neglect to make a better life for himself. I like that he questions things. I love his sarcasm and the things he says.
5. Do you like rereading your books after they are in print?
Not so much. I’ve read them aloud to my son. And it’s fun to see him giggle and get excited. But when I read them again, I catch typos that got through, or sentences I wish I could rewrite. So, usually, reading my novels only frustrates me.
6. What's your favourite thing about being an author?
Getting letters from people who love my books—especially teens. It makes all the work and stress and heartbreak (and mean reviews) worthwhile.
7. What do you like doing when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies?
My husband is a youth pastor, and he and I do a lot with teenagers in our free time. We have teen events, teens over to hang out, Young Life. I enjoy reading, playing the guitar, playing games with my family, reading books to my kids, scrapbooking, kickboxing, and helping my son learn to play the piano.
8. Do you find life to be any different now that you're an author?
Yes and no. I mean, life is pretty much the same overall. But I spend a lot more time at the computer than I used to. And I have a lot less free time to give to hobbies. I also get to go to schools and inspire kids to read and write, and that is so much fun.
9. How many books have you published?
I have published three books with Marcher Lord Press. Those three books are the Blood of Kings trilogy. I sold a new teen novel to Zonderkidz that will come out in January 2012. It is tentatively called Replication, and is a science fiction suspense novel that I think readers will really like.
10. Are you working on any books right now?
At this very moment I am not, though different stories are always floating around in my head. I’m working on a short story for an anthology called Spirited, which will be published this fall. You can learn more about it at the Leap Books website (http://www.leapbks.com/). And I’m waiting to hear back on a few ideas to decide which story I will write next.
11. What kind of books do you read? What's your absolute favourite author and book?
I read almost anything published for teens. I prefer weird genres like fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal, but I also like contemporary and historical. I don’t have favorite authors. I like too many to pick one. But one of my favorite authors of teen fiction is Jenny B. Jones. Her series, A Charmed Life, makes me laugh so hard I cry. But those are girl books, so I’ll also say that I love Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga. Totally fun.
12. Do you have a favourite writing quote?
Sure. One of my favorite writing quotes is from Michael Crichton. He said, “Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.”
13. Do you prefer writing on paper or the computer?
On the computer! I’m way too practical to have to do work twice. The computer is an amazing writing tool. Plus, I have terrible handwriting.
14. Where did you first get the idea for your "Blood of Kings" books?
Two things happened close together that inspired this story. First, I was walking with my son one day in Burbank, California, and we came upon a burned-down house. I stopped to look at it and noticed a tree in the front yard. The part of the tree that hung over the fence and above the street was leafy green, rocking and rustling in the wind. But the branches of the tree near the house were charred and stiff.
I stared at that tree for a long time, then took off for home, pushing that stroller at top speed. I went straight to the computer, opened Adobe Photoshop, and made the image of the tree that is the header on my author website (www.jillwilliamson.com). I couldn’t wait to write a story about this tree!
Around that same time, I had a weird dream where a guy had amnesia. Little did everyone know that he was someone very important. I liked the idea of putting a switcheroo plot with my half-dead/half-living tree. So I drew a map—because I love books that have maps—and started brainstorming which lords ruled each city, what kind of people lived there, the climate, and things like that. I made a 3-ring binder to keep everything organized. I drew (somewhat lame) sketches of castles and characters, created family trees, brainstormed lists of names, things like that. It was fun. I finally made myself stop playing and actually write the story.