An Interview with JV Hilliard

An Interview with JV Hilliard, author of The Last Keeper

The Last Keeper is the first book in The Warminster Series. With gripping, epic action and heart-pounding adventure, you’ll love this new adventure series.

What is your favourite dragon in literature?

As unoriginal as it may be, I fell in love with Smaug as a child when I read The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien. Smaug was the classic dragon, and he set the scales (no pun intended) for the rest to be measured against in the epic fantasy genre.

However, in book three of my Warminster series, I introduce a new dragon which I may be partial too (no spoilers here).

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I finally published the Last Keeper last December and that was the “first novel” that I started back in my college days. When COVID reared its ugly head, I was out of work for over a year, so I was able to steal a silver lining from it and dust off my old drafts and finally launch it.

Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?

For my day job, I write speeches, legislation, policy papers and the like. When I started to write the Warminster series, I needed to flip the switch from non-fiction to fiction, so story related items like dialogue and pacing were an issue for me in the beginning. I am still getting better at it with each new novel, and I depend on my editors and beta readers to help where I may fall down.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

Now that I am writing every day, I don’t have a problem with story creation. I believe that since I’ve had some stories bottled up for so long, it’s more a firehose than a spigot for me. My first book took me a year to write, but my second (which is in editing now) I finished in six months. The third (which is about half completed) should be done in four months and released around the holidays. It feels good to release the creative energy that was penned up for so long.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I do my planning with graph paper and a white board in my den, but all of my true writing is digital. I do find I can write anywhere, but I am more comfortable in my den, later at night or at a local bookstore/café nearby. Something about surrounding myself in my private library or sitting in a bookstore is motivating. Staring at the spines of books from some of the greats is motivation enough.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have secured my beta readers through lifelong friendships or from those I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons with over the years. They all understand and appreciate the genre and most write themselves in some capacity for their careers. But I did focus on finding a few editors that specialize in the Epic Fantasy genre to be helpful Sherpas. I believed this was necessary for a first-time author.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I L-O-V-E bookstores. I worked in one while still in high school and then worked at my university library when I was at college. I go to my local Barnes & Noble store to write during the week and then for pleasure on Saturday mornings (when I don’t do work—and just pick a book I will read that weekend).

While I appreciate the e-book, there’s nothing that can replace that hardback or paperback in your hands. I will admit however I do use audiobooks often when I travel and have downtime on planes or cars.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?

Fantasy is my favorite and that has never changed, but I do really enjoy Science Fiction and Horror, especially the gothic. I am hoping one day to write my own vampire novel.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?

I forced myself to learn the process as it is necessary in this day and age. Readers use them as resources for discussions, referrals, reviews and groups to share books. And if you put in the work, it is “mostly” free (save for your own time) and global. In my first month of sales for The Last Keeper, I had readers buy my book and ask for signed copies from places like India, Serbia, Romania, Tasmania and the like. Without social media, I would have never reached them.

I manage my profiles myself, but I do have several people that help. In part, I have a day job that dominates my time an often I need someone to manage requests or respond to inquiries when I am away.

I spend about two hours a day on social media, including promotions, sales, newsletters, adding followers and researching what is working for other authors (and what is not). Using author groups have been helpful to learn best and worst practices.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

It’s tempting, as sometimes you are asked the same questions, but I’ve learned that it’s best to just be original in each response. Canned responses read as if they were pre-programmed and that’s no way to connect with readers.

About J. V. Hilliard

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.

About The Last Keeper

A young boy’s prophetic visions.

Blind at birth, Daemus Alaric is blessed with the gift of prophetic Sight. Now, as a Keeper of the Forbidden, he must use his powers of the Sight to foil the plans of a fallen Keeper, Graytorris the Mad.

An elven Princess with a horrifying secret.

Princess Addilyn Elspeth travels from Eldwal, the magically hidden home of the Vermilion elves, to begin her life as a diplomat to the human capital of Castleshire. During her journey, she stumbles upon a mystical creature foretelling ill tidings.

A terrifying force of evil.

Daemus’ recurring nightmare vision threatens to catapult him into a terrifying struggle that will leave the fate of the Keepers—and the realm—hanging in the balance. Daemus and Princess Addilyn must set out to face the menace that threatens their very existence.

Will the entire realm fall to its knees?

The Last Keeper is the first book in The Warminster Series. With gripping, epic action and heart-pounding adventure, you’ll love this new adventure series.

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