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 http://www.jillwilliamson.com/. 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 http://www.novelteen.wordpress.com/. 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.
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