Jill Williamson’s debut novel, a medieval fantasy, won an EPIC Award and a Christy Award and was named Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. She has since released twelve books—all fantasy novels for teens—an interesting career path change for a former fashion designer.
When she’s not writing, Jill works with teenagers, doing writing workshops and speaking at libraries, schools, camps, and churches.
She lives in Oregon with her youth pastor husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer.
What sparked your writing journey and how does your faith play into your work?
I wanted to speak to teens. I discovered that sometimes people hire speakers based on articles written by the speaker. So I looked into writing articles. Then the 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 safe for Christians to read. The debate inspired me to write my own teen novel that all 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. I wanted to write blockbuster-style stories for teens from a Christian worldview.
Please tell us about a “detour” in your life—or in one of your character’s lives—that taught you something.
I grew up with the dream of someday becoming a fashion designer. I’d been sewing since I was nine, and in high school I made most my clothes. I went to college for fashion design and worked five years in the industry. But I didn’t like it at all. It was so competitive and shallow. And when I had my first child, I decided I’d stay home. A few years later I had started writing. And it was at my very first writer’s conference that I was rejected by an agent. I was so devastated. But that rejection taught me that I had just though it would be so easy to write a book. But I hadn’t respected my dream at all. From that point on, I made it my job to learn everything I could about writing. And respecting my dream enough to train myself made all the difference.
Let’s talk about your new book, Outcasts (Blink/Zondervan, January 2014). Please tell us about it.
Outcasts is the second book in the Safe Lands trilogy. In the first book, Captives, the people who live in the Safe Lands are dying of a plague. They need uninfected people if they’re going to survive. So Safe Lands enforcers raid the village of Glenrock and take the survivors captive. In Outcasts, the remnant from Glenrock are still trapped inside the city walls. They join forces with Safe Lands rebels in an effort to find freedom.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I want to encourage readers to remain strong when facing trials. Don’t give in to anger or despair, but trust that your faith can carry you through even the most terrible circumstance.
Journalist Burton Rascoe once said, ‘A writer is working when he’s staring out the window.’ There are many aspects to the writing process. Which part is your favorite?
I love the editing process. When I have a messy book in front of me that needs to be smoothed out and fine-tuned. It’s always the most work for me to get that first draft done. Once I do, I feel free. And I’ll rewrite the book as long as I possibly can before I need to turn it in.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Chocolate is always my comfort food because it’s delicious!
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
I play the guitar and piano very little. I’m a bit better on the guitar. I’m kind of a campfire player. I can lead people in songs. And I do like to play by myself sometimes.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
A medley of different types of music, since I’m sort of a random person.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I’d say the girl next door.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
I don’t have any pets. My family had tons of dogs and cats when I was a kid, but I never really claimed any of them as mine. My daughter has a guinea pig named Dasher. We all help take care of him. He’s pretty cute and loves vegetables.
Thanks, Jill! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thanks for having me!
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For more information about Jill, visit her website.
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So nice to see you here, Jill. Great interview, ladies. I just received an Amazon gift card, so I’ll be ordering Outcasts soon. I enjoy series books and Captives is still fresh in my mind. Loved that first book.