Wednesday, July 15, 2009

BY DARKNESS HID - Jill Williamson - Free Book

We're talking to a debut author with her first book in her Blood of Kings series. Welcome, Jill. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Not much. If my character is experiencing something I’ve experienced, I may write in the emotions and thoughts I remember, but only if it’s natural for the character to behave that way.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I dressed up as Waldorf, my husband dressed up as Statler, and we hosted a teen variety show in the theme of the Muppet Show at our church to raise money for teen camps.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In 2004. I decided to write a book. I took it (only three quarters of the first draft done) to an ACW conference in Anaheim and pitched it to Steve Laube. I just knew it was the next Harry Potter. Steve was very kind, but I could tell from his response that I didn’t do a good job explaining what the story was about. (Because I hadn’t even finished it. Duh! I didn’t even know what the story was about.) It was a big eye opener that brought my overactive imagination back to earth. I knew I could quit or press on. Well, I’d never been much of a quitter. Plus, writing was the most rewarding and enjoyable activity I’d ever experienced. I loved it. So I kept going.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I particularly enjoy suspense, fantasy, mystery, and comedy. In no particular order, I love Jane Austen, Ted Dekker, Lisa Samson, Caroline Keene, C.S. Lewis, Frank Peretti, Jenny B. Jones, Brandilyn Collins, J.R.R Tolkien, Michael Crichton, Cathy Gohlke, Anthony Horowitz, Caroline Cooney, John Grisham, Megan Whalen Turner, Nicolas Sparks, Francine Rivers, Randy Ingermanson. The list goes on and on. I also like some non fiction. Literary fiction is my least favorite.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I’ve written the first two books (The New Recruit, and The Profile Match) in my spy series for young adults. I’ve written the first book (Jason Farms) in my Test Tube Nation series for young adults. I’ve written a stand alone young adult novel called The Truth About Seagulls, which is about a Native Alaskan girl who moves out of the Alaskan Bush to go to school in town. I’ve also written an all-reader children’s book tentatively called A Mango and a Mud Church that will release from Beacon Hill Press in 2010.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming... :-)

Just kidding. I often lose my sanity, but thankfully when I do, I remember to stop and pray. Playing my guitar is also very relaxing.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I like to choose names that mean something. With my Blood of Kings series, I used a Hebrew dictionary. Each character’s name means something that describes that character. In my spy series, I picked names based on their meaning and how they related to my characters internal goals. But sometimes I just pick names I like.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

My two children. I think they are pretty awesome.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A magpie. Once I get talking…

What is your favorite food?

Fettuccine Alfredo. Any pasta, really, but Alfredo is my ultimate fave.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I didn’t understand showing and telling. Once it dawned on me, I was so excited. I overcame it by learning to rewrite. As I learned what to trim and reword, I figured out the big mystery. I don’t drive myself crazy weeding it all out of my first draft. I write fast and get the book done. Then I go back and seek out all the problem areas and rework them. I love rewriting. That’s where the magic happens.

It took me until after I sold my second book to begin to understand showing and telling, and I learn more all the time. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Just write. Get that first draft done. Don’t agonize over perfection until you’ve got a finished draft to agonize over. The beginning of the story could change once you know the end, so don’t waste time. Just get ’er done. Then write a different book.

And read. When you read, study what the author did. Look at their dialogue, action, punctuation, characters, plot, everything. Learn all you can. It will help you be a better writer and storyteller.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

I originally wrote it for the young adult market—my characters are fifteen and seventeen—but sold it as an adult novel. Also, you don’t have to be a fantasy fan to enjoy it. It’s fast-paced and suspenseful.

Here is the premise:

Achan is a kitchen servant who hopes to pull himself out of his pitiful life and become a Kingsguard Knight. His owner learns of his training and forces Achan to spar with the Crown Prince, more of a death sentence than an honor. As Achan struggles to serve the prince without being maimed, strange voices in his head cause him to fear he’s going mad. He travels with a procession escorting the prince to a council presentation. Along the way, their convoy is attacked. Achan is wounded, arrested, and escapes from prison only to be brought back before the rulers of the land. There he discovers a secret about himself he never believed possible.
How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m everywhere! My Web site is I’m also on Shoutlife, Facebook, MySpace, Shelfari, GoodReads, Amazon…
On top of that, I run two Web sites. The first is Novel Teen Book Reviews at It’s a website that reviews clean teen fiction. If you have a teen or know a teen or know someone who has a teen, this is a great resource to see what books are available in the Christian market for teens. We review books in these age ranges: 8-12, 12-16, 16 and up.
Thank you, Jill, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link where you can order By Darkness Hid:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.
If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link:


Carmen said...

I'm not usually a fan of fantasy, but this one sounds intriguing. Please enter me. Thanks.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

kristen said...

I have heard such good things about your book, Jill. I can't wait to read it.
Count me in!!

Ashley E said...

I love choosing names with meaning for characters. Part of my love for words I guess! And I'll read anything fantasy, so please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

host said...

Hi! Great interview! Congrats on a new release! It sounds very interesting.
I think I still don't understand the difference between showing and telling :)

Rich said...

Great interview! I love how you name the characters in your books with meanings that pertain to who they are. I will read by Darkness Hid one day. So many books so little....


rich said...

Oh...I forgot to say that my e-mail is burlenators at gmail dot com. THANKS and muchas blessings!

Jill Williamson said...

Thanks, guys!

Host--Yes, showing vs. telling is a horrible mystery. I still do a little telling here and there. Don't "tell" though. *groan* Sorry 'bout that. Couldn't resist.

Kristen--I'm glad you are hearing good things! Yay!

Debs Desk said...

This book sounds great. Please include me in your giveaway.

Sherry Kuhn said...

By Darkness Hid sounds very interesting. I normally don't read fantasy but I know Michelle Sutton really liked it. So please enter me in the drawing! Great interview too!

Sherry K

Deborah M said...

This sounds like something that I would like to read about. I am always looking for new authors to read.

Sheila Deeth said...

I listen to my son playing his guitar to keep me seen - really miss him when he's at college. The books sounds fun.

Dona Watson said...

I'd love the chance to read this one. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

lightstonewriter at mac dot com

Katie said...

Ahh yes, pasta is also my favorite. :] And this book sounds amazing!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Jill! And I didn't know about your children's book coming out next year. How fab! You're my hero!

Unknown said...

I loved the interview and this book looks so good! Please enter me in the contest!


Nicole O'Dell said...

Thanks, Lena and Jill

Andrea Graham said...

I always wondered about the choice of Achan, honestly. When I hear that name, I think of the guy who disobeyed God's order not to take booty and got his entire family killed. Not someone I'd normally name a hero after . . . but curious, what does it actually mean?

Jill Williamson said...

Achan (pronounced ay-kan) is Hebrew for trouble. The cook who "raised" Achan in the book named him that.

Marla said...

Sounds very interesting and different. I can relate to Jill's favorite food, anything with pasta and definitely alfredo. Thank you for the interview and giveaway.

Unknown said...

Jill, I am SO glad you didn't quit after getting my tepid first response! Well done and mucho congratulations.

The Steve Laube Agency

E.A. West said...

Wonderful interview, Jill! I'd love to read By Darkness sounds so good!

Amber Holcomb said...

This sounds like a very interesting book! I'd love a chance to win! Thank you!

April said...

Good interview! I am not a huge fantasy fan, but may have to give it a read anyway. At some point we need to get a copy for the NNU Alumni House - Alumni Authors bookshelf. :-)

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said...

I adore fantasy - please enter me - fettucine alfredo is my favourite too :).

Deborah M said...

Hi Jill,

Your series sounds very interesting and I would like to find out more about the characters. Please enter me in your contest. Keep up the good work.