Interview: Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson is the author of Replication: The Jason Experiment. Today she's visiting The Life and Lies!

Why and when did you begin writing?

My husband is a youth pastor. And back in 2004, we had some serious readers in our group. Since I was also a serious reader, I often traded books with a few of our teens. I got frustrated by the content in many of the books the teens passed my way. I have no problem with books that deal with edgy subjects. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorites. Teens need honest books. My frustration was with books that continually romanticized careless lifestyles without being truthful about the consequences. That kind of entertainment is harmful to a young, impressionable teen.

Around the same time, the newest Harry Potter book released, which re-fueled the debate within the church community as to whether Christian teens should read them. This frustrated me because there were much worse books out there. And aren’t drugs, alcohol, stds, and unhealthy relationships a much more realistic danger to a teen that the idea of trying to become a witch or wizard? I thought so, anyway.

All this inspired me to write a teen novel from a Christian worldview that would tell a fun story without ignoring the natural consequences that might arise from my character’s decisions. I wanted to write entertaining truth. And writing a novel turned out to be so much fun that I never went back to writing articles.

What inspired you to write your book?

I was riding in a car through upstate New York with my sister. We were going to pick apples. We passed endless amounts of ranches, orchards, and farms. It got me thinking. What if there was a farm where they grew people? Clones. It could be called Jason Farms. And that’s where the idea for the story came from. I wanted to explore how the world might treat cloned humans. Would they have the same rights as the rest of us? And what would their existence say about a creator God?

How did you come up with the title?

Originally, I called the book Jason Farms, because of that apple-picking day. But my publisher felt that Jason Farms was confusing, so they changed the title to Replication: The Jason Experiment.

Do you have any other books planned in the future?

Right now I’m working on the first book in a dystopian trilogy. Book one is called Captives, and it’s the story of three brothers who are taken captive by their enemies and forced to live in a strange land. I’d like to write two more books in the Replication series, but… we’ll see!

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

In Replication, Martyr is my favorite. He’s smart and kind, but totally na├»ve about the world outside the lab. He questions things like colors and animals and marriage, but doesn’t hesitate to stand up for what he believes is right. And it was fun to write his loving, selfless character in comparison with Abby’s by the book, it-has-to-be-my-way personality. Martyr sure showed her a thing or two.

What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?

Write, write, write. Get into a critique group where you feel you are learning. And finish that first book. Many new writers tend to get stuck for years writing that first book. Train yourself to be a writer by doing the hard work of completing a full manuscript. Then go back and rewrite it.

One of my favorite writing quotes is from Michael Crichton. He said, “Books aren't written—they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.” It’s so true.

Also, read, read, read. When you read, study what the author did. Look at their dialogue, action, punctuation, characters, plot, everything. Learn all you can. It will help you be a better writer and storyteller.

And try not to be impatient. Work on making each book the best it can be. When you finish a book, send it to editors and agents. And while you’re waiting to hear back, write another one. I wrote six novels before my first book was published. And I’ve heard the same from many authors. So, try to have fun.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

My husband is a youth pastor, and he and I do a lot with teenagers in our free time. We have teen events, teens over to hang out, and participate in Young Life. I enjoy reading, playing the guitar, playing games with my family, reading books to my kids, scrapbooking, kickboxing, and helping my son learn the piano.

If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?

I’d love to go to Great Britain and tour England, Scottland, and Wales, see London, see old castles, and feel the history of that place.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading Temptation by Travis Thrasher. It’s the third book in his Solitary Tales. It’s a fun series. Scary, but fun.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I wanted to be a fashion designer and went to college for it, including a year in New York City. My husband and I moved there for my last year of school and our first year of marriage. While we were there—me in school and Brad working—we did all the touristy things: Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, seeing the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, New Year’s Even in Times Square, Empire State Building, the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island, and even standing on top of the World Trade Center. It was a very special year.

Thanks Jill!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win a finished copy of Replication: The Jason Experiment!

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