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November 27, 2012

Wearing the Crown at the Plotting Princesses: J. L. Hilton on her book Stellarnet Prince

The Plotting Princesses welcome J. L. Hilton
and her new book, Stellarnet Prince!

Now, on to the good stuff and dishing the dirt.

How did you get from your day job to writing romance?

I still have a day job. I homeschool my girls, ages 8 and 12. I've also been a professional jewelry designer for more than ten years, and I continue to do that. Not as much as I used to, but I do.

Over the years, I'd produced a little fiction and a lot of non-fiction – short stories, newspaper articles, columns, that sort of thing. I was content with jewelry as my creative outlet, and in 2008 founded a jewelry artists' collective called the Triangle Jewelry Makers. In 2009, I contributed three projects to the book Steampunk Style Jewelry.

I had no desire to become a professional novelist. But in May 2009, I woke up from a dream and had a story in my head that wouldn't go away. It consumed me. I wrote it down, had a few people read it, and they urged me to publish. So here I am.

What are your three favorite books of all time?

Les Miserables, Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair. I'm also a big fan of the collected works of Yeats, Dickens, Shakespeare, Poe and Doyle. I love classics. I'm reading the collected works of Elizabeth Gaskell right now.

Morning, afternoon, or evening person?

Evening to very early morning. If I could, I'd stay up until 3am or 4am and sleep until noon. Lunch would be my breakfast. My body is just made that way. I've tried to force it into a different schedule without much success for 40 years. I can do it if I have to, but I function much better when the sun is down.

Music--with or without? What kind?

I have a whole music page on the Stellarnet Series website. ( ) I can't listen to music while I write, but it helps when I'm plotting, outlining or composing a scene. I use it to get into a character's head or into the mood of a scene, then I turn it off and write.

I associate the interstellar news blogger Genevieve O'Riordan with songs such as “Stars” by Switchfoot, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin and “Written in the Stars” by Blackmore's Night, because this is a story about her traveling into the stars and finding her destiny there. For the alien rebel Duin, I listen to traditional Irish songs such as “The Rising of the Moon” and “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” or the modern songs “Hero” and “If Today Was Your Last Day” by Chad Kroeger/Nickelback. I know there's a lot of Nickelback hate on the Internet, but I care more about lyrics than a band's popularity. They are songs about taking action and trying to do the right thing, which is perfect for Duin. For the outcast Belloc, some of his songs are “Home” by Depeche Mode and “When You Say You Love Me” by Josh Groban, because those are songs about loneliness, longing, and finding a place to be. 

I listened to “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge a LOT while writing Stellarnet Prince. For me, this song expresses the heart and soul of the story. If there's a theme song to sum up the first book, Stellarnet Rebel, it would have to be “You Raise Me Up,” because at its core it's a story about how the choices we make can either lift up or tear down our fellow beings. 

First or third POV?

The Stellarnet Series is third person. The main POV character is Genevieve “J'ni” O'Riordan, but some chapters are written from the perspective of the aliens Duin and Belloc. In book two, a few chapters are also written from the perspective of a Tikati alien named Kitik and a Glinnish alien named Eb.

How's tricks? Do you juggle multiple projects?

I currently have six – seven? do I hear eight? – WIP, including a weird west supernatural, an alternate history/fantasy adventure, a series of erotic sci-fi novellas, and a first-person POV urban fantasy. The third book in the Stellarnet Series is the one I'm focused on right now, but the others drift in and out on occasion.

What's harder: beginning, middle, or the end?

Definitely the middly bits. When I begin a new story, I tend to write one or two of the chapters very near the beginning and a climactic scene near the end, then I fill in what happens between. I've compared my process to the underpants gnomes on Southpark. “Phase 1: Collect underpants. Phase 2: ?. Phase 3: Make profit.” Part 1: Interstellar blogger meets alien freedom fighter. Part 2: ?. Part 3: Well, I can't tell you that without major spoilers!

Revisions: Love 'em or hate 'em?

Love love love 'em and my editor Alison Dasho. That's where the magic happens.

How did you come up with that title? 

My original title for the first book was Asteria Colony. Now, I can't think of it as anything but Stellarnet Rebel. It's an awesome, utterly perfect title. I wish I could take credit, but it came from my publisher, Carina Press. They pulled it from a list of words my editor and I sent them which included “stellarnet” (what I call the future Internet that spans several stars, planets and moons) and things like “spacepunk,” “metalscape” and “technorebel.”

Best advice anybody every gave you?

About writing, or life in general? For life in general: “Unless it's yes, it's no.” It was given in the context of relationships, not to stay in one if your heart – or the other person's – isn't in it. But it can apply to a lot of things. I guess it's sort of like “follow your heart” or “don't cast your pearls before swine.” Go in the direction of your enthusiasm, and don't waste time or effort on those who are indifferent to you.

For writing: “Stop using so many adverbs. It should be obvious from the dialog whether it is sad, angry or hopeful.” lol

Fill in this blank: My ideal fictional hero would think me gorgeous no matter… if I had bed-head, ears, small eyes and no color on my back. Genevieve O'Riordan is beautiful by humanity's standards, thanks to her genetic modifications, but the Glin don't have hair or ears. They have large, dark eyes and coloring on the back halves of their bodies, like frogs. Beauty transcends physical characteristics, for my heroes.

What's your favorite dessert?

Black and white cookies (aka half moon cookies). You just had to bring them up, didn't you? Where's my car keys...

Do you write at home or someplace else?

I usually write on a laptop in my bedroom. But I did write portions of the Stellarnet Series at Tir na nOg Irish Pub and on thriller novelist Andrew Britton's couch.

What's your favorite type of hero/heroine and why?

Flawed heroes who can't seem to get a break (Edward Scissorhands, Phantom of the Opera) or anti-heroes who aren't afraid to break the rules (or a few heads) and flaunt convention in order to do what's right and protect their own (V for Vendetta, Firefly). Belloc is a little bit of the former, Duin is a little – ok a LOT – of the latter.

Blurb from Stellarnet Prince (November 2012) published by Carina Press:

An otherworldly love. Human blogger Genny O’Riordan shares two alien lovers: Duin, a leader of the Uprising, and Belloc, the only surviving member of the reviled Glin royal family. Their relationship has inspired millions of followers–and incited vicious anti-alien attacks.

A planet at risk. A Stellarnet obsessed with all things alien brings kidnappers, sex traffickers and environmental exploitation to Glin. Without weapons or communications technology, the planet cannot be defended. Glin will be ravaged and raided until nothing remains.

A struggle for truth. On Earth, Duin discovers a secret that could spur another rebellion, while on Glin, Belloc’s true identity could endanger their family and everything they’ve fought for. Have the Glin found true allies in humanity, or an even more deadly foe?


Giveaway information:


Liese said...

Wow! What an interesting plot! Sounds quite intriguing! I'll have to check it out!

chris k said...

I'm amazed by your repetoire of classic reading -

I vaguely remember reading jane eyre for school and can't remember being tempted to pick it up ever again - lol - don't even remember if I liked it - : )

perhaps you've inspired me to make a little time and try -

Alisha said...

Welcome to the PP!

Sounds like a fascinating read! I'm a fan of Les Mis too!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Thank you for visiting the PP (and putting up with me!)

EIGHT projects you are juggling!! Wow, that's awesome and will you be busy for a long while.

Congratulations on the Stellarnet Prince.

Kathy Ivan said...

Woo Hoo! Welcome to the PP blog, a fellow Carina Press author. I can't wait to dive into this story, it encompasses all the things I love to read.

Plus black and white cookies? I'm so there with you, grab those car keys and lets go . . .

Patricia said...

Great advice and nice interview.
Oh, and the book cover is gorgeous. I love blue.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi J.L.!
welcome to the Princesses. Oh I love les Miserables. Are you excited for the new movie. I loved the version with Liam Neeson.

How in the world do you juggle seven plots at once? Are they related plots?

J. L. Hilton said...

Hi, Kathleen! I am excited, I plan to see the new Les Mis movie on Christmas Day.

I jot down ideas, scenes, characters, chapters, plots, etc, as they come to me. I don't know how I ended up with so many projects. I have too many worlds in my brain, and not enough time to write.

J. L. Hilton said...

And I thought I'd left a comment earlier, but it doesn't look like it went through. I wanted to thank everyone for the warm welcome. Thank you!

Also, I recommend reading book one, Stellarnet Rebel, before picking up Stellarnet Prince, in order to get the whole story behind the romance, drama and character development. The sequel can be read alone, but there will be a lot of spoilers. There are already a lot of book one spoilers in the blurb of book two. :)

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi J.L.,
What a great interview! Your book and world sounds intriguing. I'm impressed you have so many projects going at one time. Hats off to you! And when you and Kathy go get those cookies be sure to invite me along. :)