Author Interview: J. Elizabeth Hill

I am so excited about this, everyone!

I “met” Julie on Twitter, and have very much enjoyed our friendship and the exchange of various writerly encouragements and fun. She is a role model when it comes to dedication and determination, and someone I greatly admire. So of course, when she mentioned her second book was ready to enter the world on September 10th, I had to find a way to be a part of it!

I’ll let her speak for herself though: without more of my babbling, here’s Julie!

1) Go back to the beginning: what do you remember most clearly as being the thing or idea that really sparked The Mirrors of Bershan series? Also, why fantasy?

I’ll start with the second question. I write Fantasy because it’s where my imagination tends to play. I enjoy magic and fictional worlds where I can do almost anything that suits the story.

Now for the beginning of the Mirrors of Bershan. It was sparked by the idea of twins, someone who was like the other half of you, but with magic. Everyone was supposed to find their other half young, at school, only my MCs didn’t find each other until much later.

2) How have the books and the storyline changed and developed over time? Is anything in particular much different than you had originally thought it would be?

The story definitely changed along the way. I actually torched the first draft of Bound and re-imagined it, because a lot of things were wrong with the story at that point. Keari wasn’t part of my very first plan for the story and they weren’t originally going to go anywhere near the imperial capital. It’s funny too, because both the capital and Keari turned out to be central elements of the whole trilogy. I didn’t even realize I had a trilogy on my hands until I was halfway through writing Bound the first time. Surprisingly, the world it’s set in hasn’t changed that much. I’m much happier with what it’s become though, and I learned a lot about storytelling and myself as a writer in the process.

3) What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?

The third or forth pass of revisions on a manuscript is easily my least favorite. Usually by then, I’m not sure if I’m improving or just changing, which is my cue to hand it off to betas.

My favorite? I think it’s the rush of first draft, feeling the story flow. It probably helps that for me, it usually flows like river rapids, fast and free and in an unstoppable (for the most part), so it’s incredibly exciting. But that first draft teaches me things about my characters and their world I didn’t quite catch when I was outlining.

4) Do you have any writing quirks- music you need playing, a special snack, a sacred writing space?

I have a playlist of songs for every project (which to me means series/trilogy), and I usually have that playing when I’m writing or revising. Even if it’s not the project playlist, I need music of some sort. Other than that, I’m pretty flexible. I like being able to work wherever and with whatever’s handy.

5) Do you believe in writers block? If not, why, and if so, how do you overcome it?

I don’t believe in writer’s block per se. I think it’s usually fear that holds people back. I’ve been through that, especially toward the end of my first novel. When you finish writing, there are a lot of other things you have to do, including sharing what you did with others and getting their feedback. That can be pretty scary and it’s also a lot of pressure.

6) What would you say to a brand new writer on their very first book, or to someone who’s too scared to even start that book?

Start anyway, but understand it won’t be perfect. Nothing is ever perfect and besides, writing is an iterative process. You write the draft and then work on it, improving the story and writing every pass of revisions you complete. Your first draft is the beginning, not the end. Don’t be afraid to change things or cut words. Hell, don’t be afraid to throw it out and start over if you have to. They’re just words. You can always make more.

7) Name one thing you do or are interested in that people might not know. If it affects your writing, talk about that a little bit.

Gaming. I don’t play video games as much as I did before I started treating writing like the job I wanted it to be, because I only have so many hours in the day, but I still enjoy them. The better the story, the more I’m likely to enjoy them. Obviously I love RPGs (Roleplaying Games), but anything with a story will do. I’ve played through the God of War Series and most of the Halo games for their story.

I find it’s a hobby that does affect my writing, because it makes me look at stories from a different angle, to think about what I can achieve. Writing a novel and storytelling in a video game are different, but a little cross-pollination isn’t bad, neither is trying something in a way you haven’t before. If it doesn’t work, I can always try again. They’re only words, after all. As I said, I can make more. I can always make more words.

8) What are you most excited about in Possession- a favorite scene or quote, a new character?

This is the first book where the reader gets to explore the bond between Magicia and what it means to be permanently linked to someone else, to the point that you can become a single mind. I’m excited to let people see that, though it was a challenge to write.

9) If readers get one thing out of Possession or have one particular reaction, you hope it is-

I hope they love the relationship between Tavis and Faylanna, how they deal with obstacles they face. Actually, I’d like readers to enjoy the relationships in the trilogy in general. It’s a big part of the books, more than I expected when I started writing the first one.

 

So there you have it y’all – go ye forth and grab Bound and Possession! You can also try your luck with this Rafflecopter giveaway of signed paperbacks of both books. There will be three winners – good luck to you all!

You can also follow Julie on her Twitter @jlizhill  and join her at her blog here.

 

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