Author Interview: JV Hilliard

J.V. Hilliard

We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.*

I am in the midst of promoting my first book, the Last Keeper, a fantasy-adventure novel set in the realm of Warminster. We launched the book globally on January 5th, 2022 and it is available in eBook, paperback and soon to be released audio book narrated by Victor Bevine of Drizzt Du’Orden fame. My publisher is Dragon Moon Press.

In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.*

The Last Keeper is a fantasy-adventure novel set in the realm of Warminster. The story features a character named Daemus Alaric, who was born blind but is blessed with the gift of sight by a visiting stranger. The “sight” comes with prophetic visions and when they begin to come to pass, he leaves his noble home to join the fabled Keepers of the Forbidden, wielders of vast arcane knowledge who serve leaders throughout the realm of Warminster.

But Daemus’ ideal life is short-lived as a recurring nightmare takes hold, threatening to catapult him into a terrifying struggle that will leave the fate of the Keepers hanging in the balance.

It is the first in a series of novels and I currently have book two, Vorodin’s Lair in editing and book three, The Trillias Gambit, half-written. I expect book two to be launch in late Spring of 2022 and book three to be launched in Autumn 2022.

As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)*

My least favorite item to do as an author is editing—and in particular cutting characters or scenes that I love—as the creator—but that may not be best for the book. I store the “cuts” in a separate folder, almost as an emotional remembrance of what almost was, but will never be. Sad, but true.

Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?*

My favorite thing to do is plot and plan. I am not a “pantser,” in any sense of the term as I need to know where every little detail fits so that when the story is complete, every arc connects and the reader leaves seeing the full vision. I have a white board that is nearly the size of one wall in my den where I plot out story arcs, timelines, character intersections and points of conflict. And when it is time to write, I let that story board pop to life.

And yes, I weep gently when I have to erase it and start the next story…

If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)*

This one is easy. I think I write pretty decent battle scenes, but the king of battle scenes in my genre is R.A. Salvatore. His descriptions are always on point, memorable and have a tendency at times to lead to “lessons” for the character (and reader). I would steal his ability in a heartbeat.

Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

“Daemus, you have to understand what I am doing here is for your own good. As a seer—and possessor of the wisdom of Erud, the Ancient of Knowledge—I am certain you can glean from your visions the path to your own fate. I, your chronicler, am only recording what you already know will come to pass. My pen will ink the story that will make you a legend.

Yes, yes… some suffering and personal growth must come at the cost of those that you love to get you there, but can’t you see what I am doing is all for you?”

You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

The table is set. As the cards are dealt, Bruenor Battlehammer accidentally reveals his hand to me while trying to avoid spilling beer from his ale-horn. Wulfgar the barbarian, has a hard time card counting and Cattie-brie is shrewd but too trustworthy. Nay, my real opponent at this table is Drizzt Du’Orden, the dark elven Ranger… the drow swordsman of the quickest hands in all the Forgotten Realms. But he’s too honest and can’t bluff. Perhaps he should have used those hands to deal from the bottom of the deck.

Thus, I win. Through patience, cunning and reading the “tells” of my opponents, I scrape the pot in my direction… and in doing so earn the services of one figurine of wondrous power that just happens to be in the form of a certain panther…

Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)*

Keep writing, even it if it stinks. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of laziness, and before you know it, a day with no writing becomes a week. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes or 1000 words, keep at it.

Also, if you experience writer’s block, I always try to call a friend and work through it. Usually hearing others and getting input leads to the free flow of new ideas and breaks that block up quickly.

Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

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