Q&A: Jill Williamson (Outcasts)
Can you tell us about the first novel in The Safe Lands trilogy and where the story of Outcasts picks up?
In Captives, the people who live in the Safe Lands are dying of a plague. They need uninfected people if they're going to survive. So Safe Lands enforcers raid the village of Glenrock and take the survivors captive. The story follows three brothers. Levi wants to get his people--and his fiance--out of the Safe Lands and back to life as normal. Mason would like to find a cure for the plague and solve the problem for good. And Omar thinks life in the Safe Lands is going to be much better than what he had in Glenrock.
In Outcasts, the remnant from Glenrock has escaped their confines, but they are still trapped inside the city walls. They join forces with Safe Lands rebels in an effort to find freedom.
Where did you get the inspiration for this story?
I came up with the idea for this book during my ladies’ Bible study at my church. We were doing Beth Moore’s study on Daniel. And Beth asked us to think about how teenage boys we knew might cope if forced into a Babylon-type place like what happened to Daniel and the other young royals. And so the idea was born for Captives.
What can we expect from the third and final installment in the story?
In Rebels, the remnant from Glenrock is divided, but they are all still fighting for freedom. The mystery of Liberation is answered, and the brother must work together with Safe Lands’ rebels to find freedom and bring truth to the Safe Lands’ people.
What's the secret to creating an alternate reality that will pull readers in?
I always want it to be plausible. So I like to make things similar in many ways so that the reader can relate, yet I need things to be different too. For a dystopian world, I like to make mankind's fears come true. That's kind of the heart of dystopian novels. The idea that "This could really happen!" So in the Safe Lands, I tried to create a place that fit my fears of what our country might someday become. It also helps to add the right technology and slang. Those kinds of details can make a storyworld come alive.
What's your writing process like?
I brainstorm my premise, characters, and plot. Then I storyboard the plot out on 3X5 cards until I have planned out the main scenes that will get me through the story. Then I sit down and try to write one card a day until the first draft is finished. Once I have a messy first draft, I usually know where my problems are, and I take the time to go back and fix them. Rewriting is my favorite part, and I'll rewrite as long as I can.
Who was your favorite character in Outcasts?
In Captives, Mason was my favorite. And I still love Mason. But in Outcasts, Omar really grew on me. He is trying so hard to do the right thing. Yet he's not sure what that looks like. He's only sixteen, and he's made a mess of his life and everyone else's. But he wants to fix things. And his crazy attempts and failures make him endearing.