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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Two-Time Christy Winner, Jill Williamson

I'm so happy to have Jill Williamson here today. Not only does she write great fiction, but she's an Alaskan girl--lived just up the road from where I lived--so I really enjoyed talking with her.
Jill’s first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the Christy Award. She loves working with teenagers and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Visit Jill online at

Welcome, Jill! First, tell us about your latest release, please.
Replication: The Jason Experiment is the story of a girl who discovers that her father is working at a cloning lab. It’s also the story of Martyr, one of the clones who escapes the lab and discovers the world for the first time.
I loved Martyr’s voice. Loved how he viewed the world. Did you have fun writing him? (Loved the dog!)
Yes, Martyr was a lot of fun to write. I found it interesting to see the world through his eyes, to appreciate things that I so easily take for granted every day.
He offered a great way for you to preach the gospel without making the book preachy. When did you realize that would be the case?
When Abby first prayed for her breakfast that day when Martyr was there. He asked the question and he just kept asking questions. Martyr wants to know everything, so he naturally wanted to know about the Creator of Everything too.
I thought it was brilliant for you to have this character who knew nothing and who was naturally curious.  Where did you get the idea for him? Where did you get the idea for Jason Farms?
I was riding in a car through upstate New York, on my way to pick apples with my family. We passed farm after farm after farm. And I got thinking. What if there was a farm that grew people? Clones. They could call it Jason Farms!
Oh! Upstate New York? Where did you live in Alaska? I lived off of Wasilla Fishhook for eighteen years, and I was sure Jason Farms was right there in the valley
I didn’t know that about you, Sally! I grew up in HoustonAlaska, which is about 25 miles north of Wasilla. Truly, when I first wrote Replication, it took place in Wasilla. But it was the Wasilla I remembered, not the Wasilla of today. When I was a kid, Wasilla had one stoplight. Now it’s massive! So I made up the town of Fishhook, based on Wasilla-Fishhook Road, and put it pretty much in the same place. 
When I moved to Wasilla, it had three stop lights. I haven't been back since it's been massive. What does it have now? Ten stop lights? :) 

I think I saw that you had another book coming with Marcher Lord Press, is that correct? Can you tell me what's coming out in the next year or so?
I do! The New Recruit is scheduled to release in September 2012. It’s the story of Spencer, a jock, who’s more interested in video games than God, being forced to join a spy organization that’s run by Christians. One thing he learns right away: this is no bible club. These guys mean business!
And I also have a dystopian novel scheduled to come out in February 2013 from Zonderkidz. Inspired by the first chapter of Daniel, Captives tells the story of a village conquered and three brothers, who fight to unite their people against the lure of wild entertainment, instant gratification, and materialism unbounded within their new home.
Those both sound great!

You won two Christy Awards with books published by Marcher Lord Press. I was at the dinner when you won the second one, and I heard Chip read your letter. It was very funny and well received. How did winning those awards affect your career?
I think it gave respect to both Marcher Lord Press and my name, that even though the books had come from a small press, they were of high quality. And they opened the door to my working with Zondervan and signing with an agent.
Why did you decide to publish with Marcher Lord Press? Did you try bigger publishers first, or did you want to go with Jeff because of his love for fantasy?
I had talked with some bigger publishers, but most of them weren’t interested in anything YA back then. It was bad timing for a YA author to be trying to get published in CBA. But I wasn’t trying to get published by Jeff when I showed him my chapter of what I then had called Bloodvoices and eventually became By Darkness Hid.  I respected his editing genius on The New Recruit (which I had paid him to freelance edit and, years later, he’s now publishing). So I wanted to know what he thought of my fantasy story. He asked me why it had to be young adult. I said that I guess it didn’t. And that was that.
Very cool. So, do you own an e-reader? Will you ever consider publishing your own e-books?
I do! I own an old school Kindle. It’s a second generation, I think. I love it because I can read other people’s books on it and get away from the computer that I sit at all day. But I must have paper copies of my favorite books too.
And, yes! I’d publish my own ebook right now if I had one ready. My son and I were working on some early reader books that we were going to epublish starting this December, but I’ve got a lot of books scheduled for the next two years, so I don’t know if it will work out.
Well good for us. I'm looking forward to all those books! 

Do your children read your books? Do they offer critique? Do they give you fodder for the books (with or without knowing it)?
I read my books aloud to my kids when I’m doing my final read-through. I catch more errors when I read aloud, and my son often asks questions to clarify. So far my kids haven’t given me too much fodder for my fiction, but my kids are only eight and ten. I suspect that soon they will be a constant source of inspiration!
Speaking of inspiration, do you have a life verse or a Bible passage that shows the direction you want to go with your writing?
Yes I do. It’s Psalm 96:3—“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
Thanks for stopping by, Jill!
 is the local liaison for SCBWI in Cobb County, Georgia. She has published short works in a number of places and has received an SCBWI Work in Progress grant. She can usually be found blogging about young adult novels at


  1. Great interview! Jill, we're so proud of you! This goes to show God's timing in everything. I have a friend who wrote a book about a clone, but this was a few years ago, and its time had not yet come. Now, yours is here. Speculative fiction has really come on!

  2. An interview that felt like we were sitting with you two, overhearing a good chat. Thank you! As for Wasilla, I grew up in Juneau and we had no stoplights either -- and it's the state capitol. Nothing like the Far North...

  3. I've never been to Juneau, Sibella. I've always wanted to go. One of these days I'll take a cruise, maybe. Oohh. Wouldn't a writers' retreat cruise be cool?

  4. Thanks, guys! It's an exciting time to be a spec fiction author.

    Never been to Juneau, either, Sibella. I'd go to a writer's retreat there, if I could afford the travel costs.

    As for Wasilla, Sally, it's bigger than Anchorage these days. It's pretty crazy. Last time I was there, they had all these new restaurants: Olive Garden, Red Robin, Chili's...


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