Hello, lovely readers! Today we at YAWA have, as our very first interview guest, the one and only Jill Williamson! Many of you know that this blog is part of a group of graduates from the writing group Go Teen Writers.* Jill Williamson, with the founder Stephanie Morril, runs that group and blog!
Hi Jill! I'm so glad to have you as our first guest! To get started, tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
I grew up in Alaska with no electricity. That gave me a lot of time to daydream. But I didn’t want to be a writer when I was little because I wanted to be a fashion designer! I went to school for fashion design and worked in the industry for a few years before I decided that it was not for me. In 2004, I took some time off, stayed home with my kids, and started writing books. My first book was The New Recruit. It took me about three years to get that first book finished. In 2009, my first published novel released: By Darkness Hid. It was the sixth novel I’d completed. Today I have written ten fiction books for publication, co-written a nonfiction writing book for teens, and co-written a series of homeschool guides for my Blood of Kings books. I primarily write young adult fantasy and science fiction. I also blog for teen writers at www.GoTeenWriters.com.
What is your writing process?
I’m a combination panster and plotter. When I’m starting a new idea, I begin with a month or three of
storyworld building. I draw a map and simply brainstorm. Once I’m feeling confident about the world my characters live in, I think about who those characters are. Then I think plot. I’m not a hardcore outliner, but I like to have a strong story structure before I start writing. If I don’t have that, I get lost. So, once I have the outline, lately I’ve been storyboarding out the novel’s important scenes on 3X5 cards. And when I’m done, I set the stack by my keyboard and try to write one card a day. Since I sell most my books from proposals nowadays, I have to write daily to make my deadlines. I’ll usually complete the first draft, take a few days off to think, then come back and do any major revisions. Once I’m happy with the novel’s structure, I read through it and edit at least two more times before turning in my official first draft to the publisher.
What is your book about?
Captives (The Safe Lands, book one) is the first book in a dystopian trilogy inspired by Daniel chapter one in the Bible when Jerusalem in conquered by Babylon and the young people are taken captive into the city. I recommend it for readers 14 and up. Here is a little video where I share how I got the idea for this series.
Are you planning any other books?
There will be three books in The Safe Lands trilogy. I’m also working my way through The Mission League series, which are the stories about Spencer, a reluctant spy kid, who’s investigating a Hollywood producer and his own mysterious past. And I’m in the brainstorming stages of a new epic fantasy series, which I can’t wait to start writing!
Indie publishing or traditional publishing?
Traditional. And this from a girl who started with an indie publisher. I love my experience with Marcher Lord Press, and I’m so thankful to have started there. But in my experience, traditional publishing has the potential to offer so much more to authors. Whenever I can, I’ll go the traditional route.
What do you do when you're not writing?
I hang out with my family, read, watch movies, play board games like Settlers of Catan, play my guitar, and do fun stuff with the youth group my husband runs at our church. There’s never a dull moment in my life.
Do you have any advice or resources you'd like to share for other writers?
Advice: Write an ugly first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But it has to end! I meet so many writers who’ve been rewriting that first chapter for years, striving for perfection. In my experience, that’s not the best way to learn. 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.” It’s so true. But you can’t rewrite a book that’s not done. So learn to write fast and ugly first drafts so that you can step back and look at the thing and revise it.
Resources: Come visit the www.GoTeenWriters.com blog. It’s filled with great articles on writing related topics, and we add new content five days a week. Also, we have free downloads on our Go Teen Writers book page. (Note from Emily: This is my #1 piece of advice for authors ages 9-29 as well!)
Also, visit my author website www.JillWilliamson.com and click on the Go Teen Writers tab. There you’ll find freebies, tutorials, and all kinds of writing-related information.
Where can we find you online?
Besides www.GoTeenWriters.com and www.JillWilliamson.com, I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. Come find me!
Thank you so much for coming today, Jill! I can't wait to see where YAWA goes in the future, but I know we owe Go Teen Writers for so much. Without GTW, not only would there not be YAWA - we admins would have missed out on so many lessons and great relationships!
*YAWA is not officially associated with or approved by GTW.