Jill, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed.
People often ask how writers come up with their story ideas. Where did the seed of inspiration for By Darkness Hid come from?
Two things happened about the same time. My son and I were walking along the streets of Burbank and we saw a burned-down house. There was a tree in the yard that had partially burned. It was half charred and half leafy green. I thought it was the coolest image. I ran home and Photoshopped it. It’s the same image that’s the header on my website. I knew I wanted to write a story about this tree.
I also had a weird dream that gave me an idea for the plot. I won’t go into it. You can read the whole story on my website. But ideas are everywhere! If you want to be a writer, train yourself to be on the lookout.
The next thing I did was draw my map—because I love fantasy books that have maps—then I 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 all this stuff organized. I drew (somewhat lame) sketches of castles and characters, created family trees, brainstormed lists of names… It was fun. I finally made myself stop playing and actually write the story. But that’s how it all started.
Life experiences have an effect on the person we become. Would you share one experience that has strongly influenced who you are today?
Growing up in Alaska without electricity. We didn’t have a lot of extra money, either, so I
learned to make due with what I had. As a kid, I hated that. I wanted to be like everyone else. I really wanted a Nintendo and running water. Today, I’m so thankful for my unique childhood. I’m easygoing about money and not at all materialistic. I’m very thankful that money and things don’t have a pull over my life. I think that is directly due to my childhood.
If time and money were no object, where would you go and what would you do?
mily would go to Europe. We’d start in England, because Brad has some cousins who live there. Then we’d go to Europe. I’ve always wanted to walk through some real castles.
What one food do you not want to try-ever?
Would you explain to our readers what a Christy award represents?
The Christy Award is given for novels of excellence in several categories. They were created in
1999 and named The Christy Award, in honor of Catherine Marshall’s novel and of her contribution to growth of the fiction Christians love to read. They are primarily a professional achievement award, designed to bring awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available and to provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.
Aside from the Blood of Kings trilogy, you’ve written several other books. Would you share a bit about them?
I’ve written a middle grade novel about Christian spy kids. It’s called The New Recruit. I’ve also written the second book in that series. And I also have Jason Farms, a story about a girl who
discovers that her father is working at a cloning lab. And I’ve got a few new ideas in my head. I’m
trying to choose which one I’ll start for National Novel Writing Month this November.
Do you have a time set aside for writing, and if so how many days a week do you shoot for?
I try to write in the mornings for 2-4 hours. If I’m behind and a deadline is approaching, I’ll write even longer. Though there are days when I don’t write at all. I try not to work on Sundays. But there are also days that I get so busy with other things, I don’t manage to get any writing done. Summers have been especially difficult with so many summer camps (I attend as a camp counselor) and with my kids being home.
Let’s suppose that you’re about to board a plane when someone runs up to you and tells you they want to be a writer. What would you say to them in that thirty seconds?
To finish the whole story! Not to take too much time trying to make each chapter perfect until they finish the first draft. I’d also tell them to read their genre to know the market and support their industry. Then I’d give them my card and encourage them to email me if they have any questions. Any of you are welcome to do the same: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there one question you wish someone would ask in an interview?
Yes! Question: What’s with that weird dedication in By Darkness Hid where you say you’re the master?
The dedication to my former pastor reads like this:
And to Pastor Joe Torosian, for encouraging a newbie writer.
The time for my power to eclipse yours has come.
I am the master.
This is an inside joke. My pastor and I were talking about critique groups. I’d been trying to find one, and all the local ones were full. So, as a joke, we decided to start our own critique group, but it would be like the Sith in Star Wars. There could only be two members, a master and an apprentice. Since Pastor Joe was making so-many-cents per word writing sports for his local paper, he became the master and I was his apprentice. So, when I got my first book published, I got to be the master. And there you have it. J
Jill, thank you so much for sharing with us. It was my pleasure to chat with you today.
Thanks, Maria! It was fun!
To read Novel Teen’s book review of By Darkness Hid, click here.
To read our review of book two, To Darkness Fled, click here.