Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Interview with Jill Williamson author of By Darkness Hid

I feel so very grateful to share with you a conversation I had with Jill Williamson about her Blood of Kings Trilogy, especially Book One: By Darkness Hid.

KM: Hi, Jill. Thanks for coming over. So question one: What is your favorite story?

Jill: I don't have one!!! There are way too many to pick. My favorite story of this week was Chop, Chop. It's a coming-of-age story that I couldn't put down. The author may have self published it, I'm not certain. Here is a link to my review of it on

KM: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Jill: When I got my first article published in Brio and Beyond.

KM: What is the hardest trial you have with writing? Either ongoing, or your defining moment.

Jill: It's so hard to know what to work on next. I guess this is something that God will reveal to me in time. My mind is always racing from one idea to the next. It's hard to stay focused on one story.

KM: Who designed the covers?

Jill: Kirk DouPonce. You can see what other amazing covers he designed on his website:

KM: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Jill: Thank you for reading my story and telling people about it! I'd love to hear from you. If you haven't already, come find me on Facebook. And if you live in the Northwest, I'd love to come and visit your library or school. Email me for more information at

KM: How did you come up with the idea for this story?

Jill: Two things happened close together that inspired this story. First, I was walking with my son one day and we came upon a burned-down house. There was a tree in the front yard. The part of the tree that hung over the fence and above the street was leafy green, rocking and rustling in the wind. But the branches of the tree near the house were charred and stiff.

I stared at that tree for a long time, then took off for home, pushing that stroller at top speed. I went straight to the computer, opened Adobe Photoshop, and made the image of the tree that is the header on my author website. I couldn’t wait to write a story about this tree!

Around that same time, I had a weird dream about a guy with amnesia. Little did everyone know that he was someone very important. When I woke up, I liked the idea of this lost character, so I put him together with my ideas for the half-living, half-dead tree and I was off and running.

The next thing I did was draw the map. It looked a bit like Africa, which was an accident, and it had A LOT of dots on it. I needed a way to name all those places. I remembered that J.K. Rowling used Latin for most of the spells and many character names in the Harry Potter series. So I looked on my shelf. It was French or Hebrew/Greek. I thought Hebrew was way cooler, so I went with it.

For example, in the center of the map, you see Allowntown. Allown is Hebrew for oak. So that's treetown, where my cool half dead tree went. I got many character names the same way. Achan (Ay-kan) means trouble in Hebrew.

I started a notebook and brainstormed things about each town. I used a set of encyclopedias to help me. I knew I wanted Barth to be dessert, so I looked up some countries in northern Africa and wrote down their exports, crops, climate, vegetation, animals, etc. This helped me make each town diverse and realistic to the readers.

I also brainstormed lists of names. In Allowntown, aka treetown, I wrote down a list of types of apples. Braeburn, Concord, Gala, Pippin, Fuji, Ambrosia, Taylor, Macoun, Baldwin, etc. And I had a nice list of character names should I need someone from Allowntown. I used the same process for the other towns. I came up with a theme and made a list of names. Berland names are Inuit. Carmine names have to do with wine. Walden's Watch names have to do with the ocean. It was fun.

At one point, my husband said, "Uh, Jill? You've been messing around with that map for like two months. Are you going to write this book or what?"

He had a point. So I put all that down and started the story.

Thank you, Jill! You have been the most personable author I've ever known. And that story turned out to be one of the best books of 2009.

Jill shared some of the brainstorm images she used while developing By Darkness Hid. I now share them with you:
Look at these "sketches" she is quite the artist as well as writer. Maybe that is why By Darkness Hid's images were so vivid.

Achan is the main character. I likable boy. Honorable and loyal. He is oppressed. Living as a slave for as long as he can remember.

Hang on, the party is just getting started. We have two more days to delve into the Blood of Kings Trilogy: By Darkness Hid.
Come back tomorrow for my review. And tonight visit the others on the tour to see what they have to say:
Brandon Barr

R.L. Copple
Keanan Brand

Gina Burgess

Beckie Burnham

Melissa Carswell

Valerie Comer

Karri Compton

Amy Cruson

CSFF Blog Tour

Stacey Dale

D. G. D. Davidson

Jeff Draper

Emmalyn Edwards

April Erwin

Sarah Flanagan

Andrea Graham

Tori Greene

Ryan Heart

Joleen Howell

Becky Jesse

Cris Jesse

Jason Joyner


Carol Keen

Krystine Kercher

Dawn King


Rebecca LuElla Miller

New Authors Fellowship

John W. Otte

Crista Richey

Chawna Schroeder

Andrea Schultz

James Somers

Rachel Starr Thomson

Steve Trower

Fred Warren

Dona Watson

Phyllis Wheeler

KM Wilsher

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.


Chris said...

This is probably the best CSFF tour post ever. Awesome!!

I love those pictures. Very realistic.

Jill Williamson said...

Thanks for the interview, Kathleen! I giggle when I see my drawings online. I don't know why. I do like that Lord Nathak one, though. I'd like to try and make that mask...

Phyllis Wheeler said...

This is TOO COOL!! What a wonderful interview, and the pictures are icing on the cake!

Dona Watson said...

Great interview! I figured there had to be some significance to the name Allowntown. Now I know! It's very cool that you included the sketches as well. Very nice.

Keanan Brand said...

Those are some awesome drawings. It's interesting to know how she came up with the various names.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Jill!!!

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

Fantastic interview! I loved all the background and research information; the sketches too.