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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Interview with YA author Jill Williamson

Starsongs Magazine is excited to introduce YA author Jill Williamson. Hi Jill and welcome! It's a pleasure to have you here today.

Jill, you say you write speculative fiction for teens. What is speculative fiction?

Speculative fiction is a term that encompasses a wide variety of “weird” fiction genres. It’s the supergenre of everything that falls under science fiction and fantasy. Spec fiction can take place on earth but often takes place in worlds created by the author. Some subgenreexamples are: alternate history, apocalyptic, cyberpunk, dystopian, fairytales, fantasy, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, space opera, steampunk, and, supernatural. I wrote a blog post called Speculative Fiction Subgenres, if you want to learn more about each. 

Why do you think dystopian novels have become so popular for teens?

Genres come and go, as far as popularity. But with the dangers in our current world, dystopian plots seem much more plausible. They warn of an unhappy future that could conceivably happen soon. Readers like plots they can relate to. They also like to see an underdog face incredible odds. Save-the-world-type obstacles often stand in a dystopian hero’s way. Maybe he faces a corrupt government. Maybe his peoples' way of life is wrong or threatened. Maybe he lives in a world with no hope. And that appeals to teen readers because many feel like underdogs themselves.

What is your writing process? Do you write regularly or when inspiration hits?

I spend several weeks brainstorming a new story. I use a brainstorming worksheet like the one on my website to outline the story. Then  I take the next month or two to write the first draft. I try and write 2000-3000 words a day, starting in the morning. Once I finish the rough draft, I go back in and rearrange, cut,and add characters or scenes. Then I start rewriting. And I tend to rewrite as much as possible right up to my deadline. 

What is The New Recruit, your latest book, about? 

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.

Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

What inspired this book?

This is the first book I wrote. I was trying to write a story about teens going out into the world like missionaries, but since teen fiction books about missionaries weren't getting the attention of agents and editors, I tweaked the story and turned them into undercover agents. I was also trying to copy the format of Harry Potter. My goal was to get some teens away from their parents where they could receive some kind of training. At the time, I thought this was sneaky and brilliant, but it created so many problems! I’ve never written a book that way since. It’s not a good idea to copy what’s already successful—because the world already has that book. And humans were created unique for a reason. There’s already one J. K. Rowling. And I need to be Jill Williamson. All that to say, even though I’ve rewritten The New Recruit from that first horrible draft, this book is not my strongest, but it’s still a whole lot of fun.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Captives, which is the first in a dystopian trilogy coming out from Zonderkidz in February 2013. It’s based on Daniel 1 when Jerusalem in conquered by Babylon and the young people are taken into the city.

Do you have any advice for aspiring teen authors?

Write a lot. And don’t worry about getting published until you’ve written several books and have polished them. Be patient and enjoy the process of creating and learning. If you rush things, you’ll regret it.

Where else can readers find you online? 

Go Teen Writers Blog: 

Also, I give away one of my books and a one-chapter critique every month on my website. So stop by every once in a while to enter. Look under the “Contests” tab to see what contests I have going on.

1 comment:

Janet K. Brown said...

I agree. Teens are looking for a place of hope. Good post.

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