Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring King's Folly
Their Battle for the Throne Has Just Begun.
But Will It Matter if the World They Rule Collapses Into the Sea?
The gods are angry.
Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, ground shakers--everything points to their unhappiness. At least that is what the king of Armania believes. His son Prince Wilek thinks his father's superstitions are nonsense, though he remains the ever dutiful First Arm of Armania.
When a messenger arrives and claims that the town of Farway has been swallowed by the earth, the king sends Wilek to investigate. But what Wilek discovers is more cataclysmic than one lost city. Even as the ground shifts beneath his feet, Wilek sets out on a desperate journey to save his people and his world. But can he do it before the entire land crumbles?
Brock: How did you come up with the idea for the Kinsman Chronicles?
Jill: I’d been thinking about writing a prequel to the Blood of Kings trilogy. In that series, I mention that hundreds of years ago Arman (who represents God) bestowed the magic of bloodvoicing upon those with royal blood when the kings first came to the land of Er’Rets. That got me thinking where these ancient kings came from and why they left their homeland. I also like the concept of genre mashing, and so I thought it might be fun to try and write a fantasy apocalypse. And when I sat down to think the story through, I knew I would need to take my Biblical storyworld parallels back before Jesus. So this storyworld is akin to the era of Judah and Israel, where many kings did evil in the eyes of the Lord. My young princes are going to do all they can to turn their people and their wicked ways around.
Brock: Tell us about the main characters.
Jill: Wilek is the eldest son of a selfish and evil king. He hates that his father practices human sacrifice. He longs to help his people, but his father has yet to decide which of his three sons he will choose as his Heir. Wilek’s title is The Dutiful, and he always tries to do what is right, though he has never really had any way of measuring morality besides his own conscience, so he struggles to stand against the norms of society when he feels something is wrong.
Trevn is Wilek’s little brother. His title is The Curious and he strives to enjoy life, explore, go on adventures, and draw maps of all the places he has been. He grew up in a neighboring kingdom, but his father has called him home to study to be a priest. Though Trevn thrives on learning, his heart is not in the priesthood. He would much rather live up to his reputation as the Firebrand of Everton Castle, making his servants chase him over rooftops and ride on top of carriages.
Brock: Describe your book in two sentences.
Jill: When their homeland is destroyed, the rulers of the Five Realms fight to save their people from extinction. Which realm will survive?
Brock: Do you outline the entire book before starting, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
Jill: I create a rough outline, then let the characters take control of each chapter.
Brock: How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
Jill: There are several ways King’s Folly can relate to readers. The first that comes to mind is self-sacrifice, which is a foreign concept to people today. With nearly every desire available at the swipe of our iPhones, we have become a selfish, impatient, and somewhat lazy society. But a life of mindless routine can quickly become empty. Such is the theme found throughout the Kinsman Chronicles. These people have been spoiled by a lush living, and no one has had it easier than the princes. But when everything is stripped away, it is my princes who must rise up and set an example for their people and show them “that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
Brock: How many books are planned for this series?
Jill: There are nine parts to the Kinsman Chronicles, which will be released in ebook format only. There will be three paperback editions that include three ebook parts each. Those editions are called: King’s Folly, King’s Blood, and King’s War. The first three ebooks included in King’s Folly are Darkness Reigns, The Heir War, and The End of All Things.
Brock: Any certain research required for the book, or is it all from your imagination?
Jill: I had to learn a lot about deserts for King’s Folly. And for King’s Blood, I’m having to learn a bunch about ships and navigation during the age of sail.
Brock: What is your “how I got published” story?
Jill: I wasn’t trying to get published when I submitted my first chapter of my fantasy novel to Jeff Gerke at the 2008 Oregon Christian Writers’ Summer Coaching Conference. Marcher Lord Press’ submission guidelines were clear: no young adult novels. I’d met Jeff at the 2007 Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s conference and used his editorial services on a different novel. When I saw he was at OCW, I submitted my manuscript to him hoping to glean wisdom. I was surprised when he wanted to meet with me. I was even more surprised when he wanted to read the full. “Why does it have to be YA?” he asked.
As soon as I got home, I looked over the book and sent it off. A few months later I got an email from Jeff that said: “Do you happen to be by a phone right now so that I can call you?” And that was the beginning of a new adventure.
Brock: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
Jill: I had recently quit working in the fashion industry—which was the career I’d gone to college for—and was trying to figure out what I was going to be when I “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! As I was learning to write and submit articles for publication, a new Harry Potter book came out (book four, I believe), and a new barrage of debates within the church community flared up as to whether or not Christians should read the books. The debate inspired me to try and write my own teen fantasy novel that all Christians would love. Yep, I was TOTALLY naïve and have since learned that no one likes every book— especially Christians. But that’s how I got started writing fiction. And once I’d created Spencer, I was hooked on writing fiction. I left article writing in the dust and never looked back.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Jill: I grew up in Alaska with no electricity or running water. I played outside a lot and I read a lot of books. So my imagination got a great workout early on in my life. On my ninth birthday, my parents rented a TV and VCR and all three (original) Star Wars movies. It was so awesome and opened up my imagination to the world of speculative fiction.
Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness really opened my imagination to the possibility of writing something with Christian themes. I had read the Narnia books, but Peretti’s book was so different. He turned my faith into a spec fiction novel and it felt so real! I loved that.
Brock: What is the one author, living or dead, who you would co-write a book with and why?
Jill: I’m tempted to say C. S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, since they are in my genre and I would LOVE to write a book with them, but I’m going to choose Jane Austen instead. I have always been interested in writing a Regency fantasy novel. I love Jane Austen’s characters so much. I cry every time Elinor discovers that Mr. Ferrars is not married after all. I would ask her for advice on how to make readers cry and add that to some fun storyworld.
Brock: Soft shell or Hard Shell tacos?
Brock: Favorite season?
Jill: Winter! I love snow and Christmas and hot chocolate.
Brock: What’s your favorite holiday memory?
Jill: The year my mom gave each of us four kids a black trash bag filled with baby stuff, then laughed/cried and told us she was pregnant.
Brock: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
Jill: Hot chocolate, with peppermint in it.
Brock: Favorite pasta dish?
Jill: Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo with broccoli.
Brock: Do you listen to music while you write?
Jill: No! If I do, I will sing along and write nothing.
Brock: How do you give back to the writing world?
Jill: I love teaching at writer’s conferences and do so whenever possible. I also blog weekly on www.GoTeenWriters.com where I and two other authors encourage young writers. I am currently writing a book with the teens and taking them through my process. It’s lots of fun.