An Interview with J.V. Hilliard, Fantasy Author
J.V. Hilliard, what inspired you to write your novel The Last Keeper, and how did you come to write the Warminster series?
I’ve been a long-time tabletop role playing gamer, going back to the days of the original Dungeons & Dragons box sets as a kid. The Last Keeper and Realm of Warminster series is an adaptation of years of adventuring with friends and family. I was a dungeon master (and still am) for many years, and I developed parts of the realm through years of RPG’ing. It was only natural to create one “realm” of Warminster—and tie in characters and villains from old adventures while sprinkling in some new story lines.
As unoriginal as it seems, it was fun to memorialize and relive old campaigns that some of the characters went through, going as far back as my high school years and as recently as our last adventure with the same players that I’ve shared many TTRPG hours with over time. I am excited to see what my friends and fellow gamers think when they read the series.
I would be remiss not to mention that one of the main characters, Daemus Alaric, was born from a set of recurring dreams and nightmares I had as a kid. So with the twist of the pen, I brought that experience to life in one of the Last Keeper’s important heroes.
How is it to be a creative writer in the land of Warminster?
It has been an incredible experience. In truth, the plot has always been there, but marrying up the storylines, world-building for a fantasy adventure realm set inside my imagination and pacing the character arcs have been both rewarding and challenging. The experience of taking a story that I know the beginning, middle and end to and having to bring it to life in a book (and eventually, a series) was tough. This started out as an idea for a single novel and grew into a series over the course of penning ten or so chapters. At some point, I realized that one book would not suffice—and there was more of a story to tell.
I think the greatest challenge was fighting off the urge to write too quickly. The character were all there, but my typing skills couldn't keep up. I took notes via voice memos on my phone, carried a small note pad with me everywhere—and I mean everywhere—and I listened to my readers. When a plot was rushed or a character seemed not to be authentic, I used their constructive criticism to my advantage and went back into the lab until I got it corrected. I even listened to music to inspire creative thought and imagine characters, scenes and events. I would recommend Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch and a few tamer selections for the romance scenes.
When are you planning to release your novel The Last Keeper?
The Last Keeper launched this past Thursday, with the other novels in the series releasing throughout 2022.
What books have influenced you and your writing the most?
That’s a fun question. I’ve always been drawn to fantasy-adventure and the sci-fi genres, going back to my childhood, when a substitute teacher in my fourth grade English class read the Hobbit to us. From there my fascination with the creative writing took hold, and I started to follow the genre more closely. Tolkien, Rowlings, R. A. Salvatore, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman and others were natural fits for my interests. Weis and Salvatore were introduced to me through gaming and Dungeons & Dragons as a stand-alone genre within fantasy. It helped me understand the value of designing a series within the confines of a game and a set of rules, none of which exist in real life. I would also tip my hat to Terry Brooks and David Eddings, as two authors that did well in creating their own worlds. The Shannara series and the Belgariad respectively taught me the value of true fantasy world-building.
What is the hardest part of being a writer or the writing process? Do you have a writing routine or ritual? Where do you do most of your writing?
The hardest part is continuing to write. In this day and age of the rapid release theory for publishing books, most fans don’t want to wait around for 3 months, let alone a year for another novel. In the past, this was acceptable—if not expected—but in today’s marketplace, readers refuse to wait. Thankfully, I’ve written everyday of my professional career, which makes creative writing a bit of a habit.
My routine is pretty simple—I start out my day executing on professional responsibilities and then somewhere in the afternoon, reality alters for me, and I enter Warminster as the “chronicler" for the realm. Weekends and late evenings are the most productive times for me, as I am usually free of my business interests then. A quick iced tea later, I am off to the races.
Born of steel, fire and black wind, J.V. Hilliard was raised as a highlander in the foothills of a once-great mountain chain on the confluence of the three mighty rivers that forged his realm’s wealth and power for generations. His father, a peasant twerg, toiled away in industries of honest labor and instilled in him a work ethic that would shape his destiny. His mother, a local healer, cared for his elders and his warrior uncle, who helped to raise him during his formative years. His genius brother, whose wizardly prowess allowed him to master the art of the abacus and his own quill, trained with him for battles on fields of green and sheets of ice. Hilliard’s earliest education took place in his warrior uncle’s tower, where he learned his first words. HIs uncle helped him to learn the basics of life—and, most importantly, creative writing. Hilliard’s training and education readied him to lift a quill that would scribe the tale of the realm of Warminster, filled with brave knights, harrowing adventure and legendary struggles. He lives in the city of silver cups, hypocycloids and golden triangles with his wife, a ranger of the diamond. They built their castle not far into the countryside, guarded by his own two horsehounds, Thor and MacLeod, and resides there to this day. www.jvhilliard.com Twitter: J.V. Hilliard Facebook: JVHilliardbooks Instagram: JVHilliardbooks
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