From the beginning, H. S. J. Williams has loved stories and all the forms they take. Whether with word, art, or costume, she has always been fascinated with the magic of imagination. She lives in a real fantastical kingdom, the beautiful Pacific Northwest, with her very own array of animal friends and royally loving family. Williams taught Fantasy Illustration at MSOA. She may also be a part-time elf.
CONNECT WITH H.S.J.
Welcome to SPFM, H.S.J.! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Vivacious, artsy, and earnest.
Summarize your book, Moonscript, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
DAWNSONG by B.R. Shutt
Is it a novella? Yes. Is it written by my writing partner? Yes. But what is really amazing about this short story is how MUCH it packs in, setting the stage for a much larger series ahead. The world-building is rich and steeped in history, the wit is sharp, and the characters have the soul of someone unique.
FIERCE HEART by Tara Grayce
Honestly, I recommend this because it’s fun. Because while fae/elvish romance is completely overdone, this story fulfils a much needed hole in the genre. It takes a practical, extroverted heroine with a big heart and sets her in a stuffy elvish world, and explores the hilarity, tension, and sensitivity of such a combination. Providing chuckles and aww moments in a clean romance with just enough world-building, drama, and action to keep interest (these especially build throughout the series) is what made Tara Grayce go to the top of steampunk romance Amazon charts and stay there.
A FAIR ACCOUNT OF THE TRAITORS SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED by S.E Page
The magic system. The prose. The brilliant set up of story-telling. Defining the difference between a character’s understanding and the actual truth. This vivid, violent, and wild fantasy builds off elements of Snow White, Snow White & Rose Red, and The Snow Queen, while creating a story all its own.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
The reason why I enjoy self-publishing is the same reason I chose self-publishing. From very early on, I knew I did not want my creativity to have limits. As an artist, I wanted to have full control over choosing a cover artist, include illustration, determine how many books would be in the series, allow for spin-off series, include some crossover references with fellow authors, and decide exactly what my story needed. I knew that for the most part traditional publishing didn’t allow for that, so I went the hard way.
Now I know most people think self-publishing is the easy way, but it isn’t, not if you’re willing to do it right. You either have to pay for all the services yourself or learn the ways to do it yourself. I still hired editors and artists, but I learned formatting and marketing by trial and error. I actually find formatting sort of fun, but I hate having to wait for proofs and discovering I did something wrong. Correcting errors can be an extremely lengthy and expensive process, especially when using printers such as Ingram Spark. I actually enjoy marketing, since I love talking about my characters. I always say I’m their biggest fangirl.
What’s your process for creating fully fleshed out characters?
I talk to them. Yes, I’m that type of author. My characters are basically friends and I’ve gotten to know them through knowing myself. One particular exercise that brought out their thoughts was to exchange letters between them and other characters about situations they were dealing with in their lives.
If you could go back in time, what’s one thing you would tell your younger self?
Be patient. I know you want to publish your stories right now, but good things come to those who wait and take the time to refine their craft. Keep writing, keep sharing, but know that taking the time you need is okay and beneficial.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
A good story can make me cry. Not just cry. Weep. But not because a character died (that just makes me mad) or because something sad happened. Generally I cry at the climax of the novel when a character realizes something that changes them. When they have that revelation moment that will turn their life for the better. When I connect with that moment of understanding, I’m often inspired in my own life. And I wanted to write that for other people. A story that could encourage and uplift and give a hope for today and tomorrow.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Trying to do and learn everything at once. Developing a writing voice, creating a world, understanding your characters, learning about publishing, building an audience, these things all take time. I’ve heard it said that before you learn to write you need to learn how to live, and it’s true. Don’t fall into the pitfall of comparison, worrying about how many books other authors are dishing out per year, and embrace your own journey.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Presence. Don’t hide. Hard to do if you’re in introvert. I know a lot of authors who say they hate to talk about themselves. So if you don’t want to focus on yourself, focus on what you love. Is it your characters? Your world-building? Is there a fandom you love taking part in with comparable titles to your own? Focus on that. Be a name and spark that people recognize. Perhaps commission art of your characters. Give generously to others in your community (and understand with grace that not everyone can give back) and build a team of fellow authors and readers who support your story.
Tell us what lies ahead for you.
MOONSCRIPT is only Book 1 in a five book series, The Kings of Aselvia! And besides that, I have several other series planned to branch off the main one. Coming next is a prequel/sequel novella about the origins of a MOONSCRIPT fan favorite character, Coren, followed by Book 2 in KoA!
About Moonscript (Kings of Aselvia #1)
“It is said that Darkness is empty and whatever vanishes into its depths is lost forever. I know this better than anyone. For I have suffered here in the shadows, and there are none who might find me.”
Seventy years. Seventy years the elven prince has been lost to the darkness, assumed dead by his people and endlessly broken for a book that connects to the hidden realm of his ancestors, a land untouched by evil.
And now a light in the shadows. A chance for freedom. But those willing to help him come from the unlikeliest of worlds.
The orphan girl, yearning for a loving family, and the boy who won’t leave her side. A healer maiden given an unexpected chance for a life beyond narrowed expectations. A grieving creature flown far from home.
They all search for something and now their fates are tied to his. If their quest for life can pull him from the dark mire in which his soul drowns, then perhaps he can be saved.
Or else he will drag them all down to a fate worse than death.
The beginning of an epic saga, MOONSCRIPT is a journey of innocence, despair, and redemption.