Author Interview: Jill Williamson

We are thrilled to welcome author Jill Williamson to the Inspy’s Blog!  Jill is the author of the shortlisted young adult novel Captives.  Jill currently lives in Oregon with her husband and two children.  She enjoys working with teenagers encouraging them to respect their dreams.  Welcome Jill!


In a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from Denver City with his latest scavenged treasures and finds his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many–including his fiancée, Jem–taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.

Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late?

jillwilliamsonWhat led you to writing?   I had recently quit working in the fashion industry—which was the career I’d gone to college for—and was searching for what I wanted to be when I, ahem, grew up. Since I had a pretty interesting childhood/life story growing up in Alaska, I thought that maybe I could be a motivational speaker for teens. I discovered that sometimes, people hire speakers based on articles written by the speaker. So I looked into writing articles. I was shocked at how hard that was! Meanwhile, a new Harry Potter book came out (book four, I believe), and a new barrage of debates within the church community (my husband is a youth pastor) flared up as to whether or not Christians should read the books. The debate inspired me to try and write my own teen novel that everyone would love. Yep, I was TOTALLY naïve and have since learned that no one likes every book. But that’s how I got started writing fiction. And once I’d created Spencer, I was hooked. I left article writing in the dust and never looked back.
Treadmill Desk 2014Is that a standing desk?!? Do you love it?   It is a treadmill desk. And I do love it. I should use it more than I do, though. I can’t get going very fast on there and still type and focus. But it works fine when I walk slowly or stand. And it’s always good to get me up out of my chair.
Tell us a book you feel epitomizes quality faith-driven literature.   A Walk to Remember by Nicolas Sparks. It’s the perfect story of how being yourself can change lives. And it’s a general market story too.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing the book to life?   The first challenge for me is always storyworld creation. I’m a storyworld first novelist. And if I don’t know my storyworld, I can’t write the story!  And I had a deadline that came faster than I had time to perfect my storyworld. But thankfully I got a chance to rewrite the book during the editing stage and by then I had really discovered what the Safe Lands were like.

I always struggle with researching anything scientific. And this book had a medical issue that gave me plenty of strife. I had to consult some friends who had medical and science training to talk out the plausibility of concepts and scenes in the book.

The biggest challenge I faced again and again was that I was trying to write Babylon for teens–so, in a clean way. And the world was not clean. So it was tricky to write this story with the adult subject matters of surrogacy, drug addiction, and STDs and keep things clean and entertaining.

And one final challenge for me with this book is that I had four points of view–four main characters. And I’d never written that many main characters before. I do tend to write epic stories, but it was a challenge to balance everything, keep it interesting, and keep my word count down.

What do you hope readers take away from Captives?   We live in a world in which anything seems possible, and we often think that who someone else is or what they have is better. And we sometimes think we don’t have enough or that we want what that person has. I hope that Captives might help readers see that sometimes what seems better might actually be worse. That the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of that fence. In fact, the grass might not even be real. It might be AstroTurf! We can all benefit from being content with who we are and what he have.

My Desk

Jill your office is fantastic!  I love how you notate all the essentials – and is that a photo of House on your character board?!?

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  • Thanks for the interview! Yes, that’s House. He looked like my Task Director General character in the Safe Lands books.