Interview with J.V. Hilliard
The Warminster Series
Please tell me a little about your current work in progress.
Vorodin’s Lair is the second book in the Warminster series, an epic fantasy tale that combines sword and sorcery, a new fantasy realm and epic battles to sweep readers from the treacherous cliffs of the Dragon’s Breath Mountains to the shores of scholar city of Abacus.
It is a continuation of the story of Daemus Alaric, a low Keeper from the Cathedral of the Watchful Eye, as he and his allies set out to face the menace that threatens their very existence.
Where did you get the idea for this book or series?
Shared experiences from my various Dungeons & Dragons campaigns have always been at the heart of my work. If you are a TTRPGer, I’m sure you get this. Playing D&D with friends and family scattered through several decades really generated a lot of ideas that I could mesh into The Last Keeper, but also allowed me to go off script and away from D&D, creating unique monsters like the Antlered Man.
The D&D modules of the Ravenloft series and The Vault of the Drow were player and DM favorites and inspired many fun nights and memories, including the creation of one of the villains in The Last Keeper, Incanus Dru’Waith.
Do you write in more than one genre?
Not currently, but I am exploring a collaborative piece that may take me into the horror genre. I’ve always been a big vampire and ghost story fan, and this collaboration may include an anthology of stories gathered that come to an end at the same time. It’s a challenging project but one that could introduce me into a new genre.
Tell me about something that you believe makes your writing unique or worthy of attention.
I have always found it interesting that in the fantasy genre, typically no matter how much time passes, the characters end up still using swords and shields and fighting behind castles. There is little to no technological advancement.
In my books, there is a city of scholars known as Abacus, that creates “technology” in very specific ways that affect the plot. It's a bit of me taking my sci-fi fandom and injecting into epic fantasy. It's not overwhelming—subtle in some places to stay true to the fantasy genre, but the weapons and magic that are discovered or invented in Abacus really help at various important inflection points throughout the series.
Is there anything about your personal history or personality that manifests strongly in your writing?
Professionally, I am a federal lobbyist the deals with defense and tech companies on a daily basis. I've learned throughout my career in Washington DC that politics plays a role not only in the development of this new tech but also in day-to-day living, which I tried to sprinkle into the realm of Warminster. I think it helps with the flow of the story if nobility and leaders in Warminster stand out to the reader as believable, and there's a truthfulness to how they interact with one another that mirrors both modern and medieval societies.
(I couldn't get the cool map to download for insertion here)
What else would be helpful for readers to know about you?
I have been an avid tabletop role playing gamer nearly my entire life, starting at the age of 10. I think that many of my plotlines and characters have been borne out of years of playing Dungeons and Dragons and combining the arcs of characters with the storylines of my novels. I even drop a few “Easter eggs” in my stories for my friends and family to find, including names of their own characters or references to unique campaigns that I've run as a dungeon master or as a player character.
I think borrowing from that game, among others, as well as paying homage to fantasy literature that came before me (like Middle Earth or Westeros) will keep my readers interested but appreciative of the uniqueness of Warminster. I've taken care to make sure that my magic system stands apart from others, the races of the realm are sure to be one of a kind, and I combined a little sci-fi when the plotline calls for it.
Excluding your own work, what underrated author or book would you recommend that more people read? Why?
Recently I just read Frosthelm by Dave Dobson who is a fellow author, and I would recommend his current and future work. Although he has a different style than I do, I appreciate the world building that he's done in some of his characters. Take a look, and judge for yourself.
(Imagine the cool cover of Vorodin's Lair, Book Two of the series here--which I couldn't get to download).
Which of your books do you most highly recommend? Why?
This is a bit of a cheat, but I only have one book currently available which is The Last Keeper, the first book in the Warminster series. If you want to try something different for shorter reads, visit Altered Reality Magazine online and check out my serial there, the Element of Time. It too is of the fantasy genre but “snack size.”
Which break, event, decision, or fortuitous circumstance has helped you or your writing career the most?
To be honest, when COVID took hold and much of my work was put on the back burner, I had a lot of spare time on my hands to start writing. It's a moment in time that I will never forget and one that was a silver lining in a very dark period for many. Since that time, I've learned to be a more efficient writer and instead of taking a year to get a book to market, I've got it down to every three or four months. Working on the second release in the summer of 2022 with the third book in this series coming out at the end of 2022.
What question do you wish you would get asked more often?
I think the question I don't get asked often but would like to be asked more is “if you can choose one of your characters to spend one day with who would it be and why?”
I would choose Graytorris the Mad, because even though he looks like a simple “big bad evil guy” in book one, as the series progresses, the reader learns more about his background and history, offering a window into his mind. Why does he do some of the things he does?
As an outside observer looking in, I would love to pick his brain—even though I am technically in his mind as his creator, and ask why he's doing the things he's doing to the realm.
(This is where the cover of The Trillias Gambit, Book 3 of the Warminster series would've appeared if I could've downloaded it)
Do you have a catch-phrase or quote that you like? What is it? And why do you choose it?
“From the silent bow, the arrow flies,” is my favorite quote from book one. It is a line from the Ballad of Rillifane's Meander, sung by one of the Longmarchers, and speaks to the magical bow named Silencer that Sir Ritter of Valkeneer carries in the battle. When the bow shoots an arrow, it flies silently, sometimes keeping him hidden from his enemies. And perhaps the bow also gets its moniker from its wielder “silencing” the enemies of the realm.
Thanks to J.V. for participating.
I've got the first ten chapters of Book 6 in the Tomahawks and Dragon Fire Series out to my Skirmish Team for review. Redcoats, dragons, stone cats, magic, and more. Can liberty prevail against such implacable foes?
Book 2 in the series, Power to Hurt, is available for two days only: May 16 and 17 for only 99 cents.
Book 1, Threading the Rude Eye, is still at 99 cents.
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