Author Jill Williamson took time from her busy schedule to talk to me about what inspired her award-winning series The Safe Lands Trilogy and what she’s working on next. Here’s what she had to say…
A story is often inspired by a question. What question inspired you to write this novel?
I was at my ladies’ Bible Study, and we were working on Beth Moore’s Daniel book. On screen, Beth asked us to think about some teenage boys we knew and how they might cope if they were taken from their homes and thrust into a Babylonian type of a world. And that’s the question that inspired the Safe Lands Trilogy.
Do you have a favorite character? Is there something about him/her which couldn’t be included in the novel that you’d like to share with us?
At the beginning of the series, Mason was my favorite. I liked his logical way of looking at the world, and his simply wanting to be himself and find acceptance. But by the end, Omar had overshadowed his brother in my heart. Omar makes a lot more mistakes than anyone else in the series, but he always fights to find his way back. I love that about him.
One of my favorite things about the Safe Lands books is the lingo you’ve created. Can you tell us a little bit about how that developed?
I love creating slang. I started by looking up 1920’s slang, which I felt was far enough back that no one would pick up on any matches. That’s where I got the word “Valentine” to be used as a word for a handsome guy. Many of the other words I came up with by brainstorming from my technology. For example, the word “shimmer” as a word for a pretty girl came from the idea that the girls would be wearing roller paint over their skin and that it would shimmer under lights. The word “shell” came from the idea that these people were living like shells of human beings. And “shellie” was a play on that for girls. “Femme” was short for female. And “glossy” was a word I used to mean sexy. For that one I was turning different adjectives around to see which ones might work as slang. It was fun.
What is one question about the Safe Lands series you are often asked by readers?
Whether or not I will write any more Safe Lands books. I don’t plan to. But I originally sold a prequel, which is called Thirst, and Captives to Zondervan. But when they learned that I had intended for the dystopian book to be a trilogy, they opted not to buy the prequel and instead bought the trilogy. So I did write half of a prequel book about a teenage Eli and his youth group friends during the Great Pandemic. Some of the revelations in the Safe Lands series are spoilers for how Thirst ends, though, so I don’t know that I’ll ever publish it.
There are a lot of moments in which Safe Lands characters really wrestle with deep issues, both emotionally and spiritually. What do you most hope that readers take away from this series?
We live in a world in which anything seems possible, and we often think that who someone else is or what they have is better than who we are and what we have. I hope these books might help readers see that sometimes what seems better might actually be worse. That the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of that fence. In fact, the grass might not even be real. It might be AstroTurf! We can all benefit from learning to be thankful and content with who we are and what he have in life.
If you can share, will you tell us a little bit about a new project you’re working on?
Yes! I’ve signed a contract for a new epic fantasy trilogy. I’m very excited about it. It’s tentatively called the Kinsman Chronicles. Here is my logline: In a fantasy world, a grieving prince struggles to solve his beloved’s murder—a mystery that uncovers a conspiracy of apocalyptic proportions.
The first book is scheduled to release in September of 2015.
You post a lot of really informative reviews on your web site. Is there a book on your reading list that you’re most looking forward to reading next?
I’m dying to read Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings. I bought it. It’s just really long and I’m so busy. But it’s epic fantasy, and that’s one of my favorite genres. And it’s Brandon Sanderson, and he is one of my favorite authors. So… 🙂
Jill is a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant, who was raised in Alaska. She loves teaching about writing, which she does weekly at www.GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer. Visit her online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.
The Safe Lands Series by Jill Williamson
In a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from Denver City with his latest scavenged treasures and finds his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many–including his fiancée, Jem–taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe.
Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams.
Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late?
Since entering the Safe Lands, Mason has focused on two things: finding a way to free his village from captivity and finding a cure for the disease that ravages many within the walls of the Safe Lands. After immune-suppressive drugs go missing in the clinic, Mason discovers his coworker, Ciddah, may know more about the Safe Lands than imagined…and may have an agenda of her own. At the same time, Mason’s brother Levi is focused on a way to free the remaining Glenrock captives, while Mason’s younger brother, Omar, decides to take the rebellion against the Safe Lands into his own hands as a vigilante.
Soon all three brothers are being watched closely–and when Mason stumbles onto a shocking secret about the Safe Lands meds, his investigation just might get those closest to him liberated.
The Safe Lands have long kept the true meaning of Liberation secret from their people. But after being sentenced to Liberation themselves, Mason and Omar soon discover the truth.
Levi watched his brothers’ public sentencing and tries to hold out hope they are still alive. He is forced to focus his attention otherwise, however, when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and made the Safe Lands’ newest Queen. His only choice to save Jemma may be to take up Omar’s old role of undercover vigilante, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will Levi’s new role be enough?
Meanwhile, Jemma’s sister, Shaylinn, is ready to give birth to the “Safe Lands'” children … but not even Ciddah is sure they can be delivered safely in the midst of a rebellion. And Mason must face the fact Omar’s illness could be fatal.
If they can all unite their efforts, together they may be able to expose the Safe Lands’ lies to the people. But if they fail, they will all surely die.