Enter Warminster with author J.V. Hilliard in his book, The Last Keeper, as he leads us through the kingdoms of Ravenwood, Thronehelm, and the Queen's Chapel. Take a look behind the vale as we discover the dark path of a nightmarish blindman, and what started him on his path of tyranny. Following adventurers like the knight, Sir Ritter, and Daemus Alacar, the seer, in this D&D inspired high fantasy novel as they do everything in their power to cleanse their kingdoms of tyrants like Graytorris and Veldrin Nightcloak. Come on a journey in a world with new races, magic systems, and glorious battles as we go beyond the Dragon's Breath Mountains and Beyond the Pen.
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[00:00:00] Intro Banter
[00:00:00] Maccabee: Hello, Marcella. How are you this week?
[00:00:01] Marccella: Hi, Mack. How am I this week? I'm awake.
[00:00:05] Maccabee: That's good. We're happy that you're awake this time. No..
[00:00:08] Marccella: This time? What other times were you talking about?
[00:00:13] Maccabee: Well, we won't go into those cause I would like to live, um, . So this week's gonna be a little bit interesting because again, we're, we're continuing with the fantasy fiction and everything, and we know how much you love fantasy.
[00:00:28] Marccella: Maybe.
[00:00:28] Maccabee: You know, you live a life of fantasy, technically.
[00:00:31] Marccella: You know, that's what happens when you're a goddess.
[00:00:33] Maccabee: Yeah, that too, that too, we'll give you that. And, and the fact that you have all these wonderful crystals around you and, uh, Luna and her business, and, you know, I think it's, this is one of those things that. Let me get your insight in exactly what you look for when you're looking at a fantasy world. What are some of the things that you [00:01:00] really look forward to when you reading a book like this?
[00:01:03] Marccella: I have, I have a lot of preferences because I grew up in the, uh, age of D&D. So I was always an elf or a, um, a sorcerous.
[00:01:14] Maccabee: Of course, of course.
[00:01:15] Marccella: So these are the kinds of things I look for elves, magic. I can go with dragons, you know, they're not necessary. [Mm-hmm] You know, depending, depending on, on the time period as well. Cause I like time travel. So that's what I look for.
[00:01:29] Maccabee: That's true too. [Mm-hmm] So it doesn't have to be a specific time era for you in terms of the way you enjoy it?
[00:01:38] Marccella: No.
[00:01:38] Introducing the Author
[00:01:38] Maccabee: Okay. Well, you know, the one thing I love about our next guest is that even when you look at his bio, it reads like a fantasy. And I'll give, I'll give you a little bit of an example of what I'm talking about. Born of steel fire and black wind J.V. Hillard was [00:02:00] raised as a Highlander in the foothills of a once great mountain chain on the confluence of the three mighty rivers that forged his realms, wealth and power for generations.
[00:02:12] Marccella: You're doing the voice I'm dying.
[00:02:14] Maccabee: I know, like I. His father, a peasant twerg, toiled away in industries of honest labor and instilled in him a work ethic that would shape his destiny. I mean, if, if I need him to write my bio, honestly.
[00:02:33] Marccella: I might have to ask him to write mine as well, but I have one thing to say. He, he said he was, he was a Highlander. Um, watch your head. Don't lose your voice.
[00:02:44] Maccabee: Wow.
[00:02:45] Marccella: Yeah.
[00:02:45] Maccabee: Wow. Yeah. You have to be a certain age to understand that one or, or know exact world that we're talking about. Um, but here's the other thing that really that's interesting about Mr. J.V. Hillard [00:03:00] is that he's also a co-founder of a publishing company called Twin Tales.
[00:03:07] Marccella: Ooh.
[00:03:07] Maccabee: And they do a variety of different things. They just had a contest, I believe, uh, for authors and they just congratulated the most recent award winner but besides that, I mean, there there's so many things with him. That we're going to get into but I want you guys to keep that in mind, in regards to like the way that he wrote his bio is pretty much the way that he wrote the entire book and his series. He is so much of a fantasy man that he even named his horse hounds, Thor and McCloud. So that tells you something about, and even the way that he describes his wife of, I think it was the, the diamond diamond something I'll I'll have him say this, [00:04:00] but anyways, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Shadow Hunter to your Twin Tales, Mr. JV Hillard. Welcome to the show.
[00:04:13] Marccella: Hey Joe.
[00:04:14] Maccabee: Hi, Joe.
[00:04:15] J.V. Hilliard: Oh my goodness. Can you, can you hear me?
[00:04:17] Marccella: I don't know other Joe on this set.
[00:04:18] Maccabee: I know. I was about to say I'm not, there's no other Joes but you. So..
[00:04:22] J.V. Hilliard: Oh, there it is. Can you hear me now?
[00:04:23] Marccella: Yeah.
[00:04:24] Maccabee: Yeah,
[00:04:24] Marccella: We could hear you before.
[00:04:26] J.V. Hilliard: I apologize for that. I was on mute and I unmuted on the bottom, but it wouldn't unmute in my box and I was like, what is going on here? So there's, there's my technology. Two thumbs up. I apologize for the gaff there. So, yes.
[00:04:39] Marccella: You probably need a ma to come in and just like, you know..
[00:04:41] J.V. Hilliard: I do.
[00:04:42] Marccella: Yeah.
[00:04:42] J.V. Hilliard: Thank you guys for having me today. I really appreciate that. It was very smooth, great introduction by me. Thank you.
[00:04:50] Maccabee: If anything, we can bring his, his wizard, uh, uh, wizard uncle. No, it was, uh, wizard brother involved into this because of everything he's involved in too. [00:05:00]
[00:05:00] J.V. Hilliard: I'm glad you, you, you liked my, my bio. What I tried to do with that was cast myself as a character within the realm of Warminster. Right. And so instead of having this, the typical author bio, which, you know, you know, talks about where I went to school and who I'm married to and my kids and all that kind of stuff. Instead, I focused it as if I was the chronicler of the realm of Warminster and I was telling the tale, uh, and so I just fantasized my bio a little bit, but if you know me well enough, you can decode the code, uh, of the bio. And so like ranger of the diamond, which I described my wife as..
[00:05:37] Maccabee: That's what it was ranger of the diamond.
[00:05:38] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah, she played third and second base in, in baseball or softball in college. So, uh, you know, diamond for baseball. And she was someone that was played a position that was kind of a ranger. And of course a ranger is a, you know, a very popular class of character and fantasy adventure like Aragorn or Drizzt, um, or any of those folks.
[00:05:58] So I thought that was fun and, [00:06:00] you know, and yes, uh, the Highlander thing isn't from the movie Highlander, but my dog's name McLeod is from the movie. Uh, so I'm a big fan Highlander. I actually went to a high school where our, our mascot was a Highlander. So I was describing myself once from the Highlands, meaning I went to that high school and then I went to the Cathedral of Learn, which is the University of Pittsburgh, where we have the Cathedral of Learning, uh, and stuff like that.
[00:06:23] So it's just, it. It's a fun way of, I think introducing yourself it's unique. Uh, and it also gives me, you know, uh, I think a talking piece sometimes when people like it, some people don't. I, I got told one time that, um, you know, what is this? I don't understand this. Why aren't you being serious? And I was like, well, it's creative and I'm trying to be artsy.
[00:06:44] And it's fun. So I'm sorry if you're offended by it, but it's a, it's an author bio, right? We'll get beyond that but thank you guys.
[00:06:53] Maccabee: I thought it was hilarious.
[00:06:54] Marccella: Who would be offended by that?
[00:06:56] J.V. Hilliard: Uh, someone who I reached out to, to be on their [00:07:00] podcast. And, and they asked me to be creative in my response. And I sent 'em that and they said, I don't know what this is.
[00:07:05] Marccella: Mack shame on.
[00:07:06] J.V. Hilliard: You gotta be creative. I did this before coming on your show. It doesn't matter. It's not going anywhere.
[00:07:13] Marccella: I think it's great.
[00:07:14] Maccabee: See, she's already thrown me under the bus. We haven't even started. She's already thrown me under the bus for something I didn't even do.
[00:07:21] Marccella: I have no proof of that.
[00:07:25] Can't Google This
[00:07:25] Maccabee: We'll, we'll, we'll go on. Uh, there's a lot of things we, anyways. So, since we've already started to talk about your introduction and everything to this world of fantasy and how you really perceive it as something very creative, not only in the world that you've created of Warminster, but also in your own personal life. Is there something that we don't know about you that we can't find on the internet?
[00:07:54] J.V. Hilliard: Well, yeah, sure. Um, so a couple of things, uh, you know, I got my start in [00:08:00] writing in the strangest of ways. Um, I, when I was born, uh, my mother was a, a nurse, but my uncle was paralyzed in the war when he came home. Um, she ended up basically being his nurse full time, uh, and as a result of his physical condition, uh, one of the things, um, that you know, he had to do was find ways to kind of escape.
[00:08:24] Right, and so escapism from him was things like teaching me to play Dungeons and Dragons when I was 10. It was a way for him to escape, you know, his body and, and walk again in, in the eyes of these, you know, looking through the eyes of these characters, um, as well as, you know. Professionally there was very, very few things that he could do as, as a quadriplegic.
[00:08:43] And one of those was write, so he would, you know, bang out on a typewriter old school typewriter, and I would sit there and, you know, and when you're young, you don't, you don't know the difference. You accept the people for who they are. And, um, he became a second father to me, a real mentor, and it was his desire.
[00:08:59] [00:09:00] um, you know, I think to be a writer and, and at the time he was writing mostly horror, short stories, novellas, pulp fiction, you know, things that would find their way into magazines and such. Um, but I always kind of felt I just wanted to follow in his footsteps. Uh, and when I was in the fourth grade, I remember he secretly entered me into an eighth grade writing class.
[00:09:20] And, um, there was a competition and I won. And when I showed up to get the award, they looked at me and they were like, you're, you're not eighth grade . So it was, it's a little fun stuff, but it really showed me that I, if I wanted to dedicate myself to the craft of writing, that I, that I could. And I think it was, you know, spending all those hours with someone who was willing to be that sort of second father figure and, you know, help me.
[00:09:46] You know, even at a young age, understand how to do it and do it better and accept constructive criticism. And, you know, and for us, you know, fantasy adventure was an escapism for him. And therefore it became an escapism for me.
[00:09:58] Maccabee: That is awesome. You [00:10:00] know, cuz there's a lot of things that we do need that escapism from this world sometimes, especially if you really can't physically do it, that's one of the best ways to really keep yourself healthy enough to where you can realize, Hey, I may not be able to do this here. However, I can do this. And to help to inspire the next generation of writers and readers. I mean, that's one of the coolest, uh, things that you could ever do for somebody, you know, that's a great legacy to leave behind for, for this world.
[00:10:39] And I'm pretty sure that he's extremely proud that he's he did that and was able to get you to do something that most people are extremely, that are really afraid to do and, or they just can't do. And so they rely on others that are creative, like you [00:11:00] and myself, and Marcella to do these things for them to give them escapism.
[00:11:04] J.V. Hilliard: And I think that, you know, I've tried to honor his, the tradition and, and many of the, many of the storylines and the, the arcs within the story. Um, come from those Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. Right. You know, not all, uh, but you know, my family and friends recognize some of the names of the characters because I've taken them from either the villains that, you know, when I was dungeon mastering, I, you know, I they'll recognize that or a certain campaign, uh, piece that's that's woven into the, the, the chapter.
[00:11:35] But he and I, he got me started I'll I, you know, it's when, when I was 10 years old, I asked for a, a D&D box set when for Christmas and he, I ended up getting that and I got my first copy of the Hobbit and it's the best Christmas I ever had. I mean, it's just, you could read the Hobbit over and over again.
[00:11:56] Uh, and you could play Dungeons and Dragons and every time you play the game, [00:12:00] it's a different game. Uh, it's never the same, you know? And so for those, you know, who I would label as creative, and don't always wanna play the same game over and over again, i, I would, you know, that, that to me helped me. And I think it also helped to foster a creative, uh, mind and a creative spirit that, that led to other things. So..
[00:12:20] Maccabee: It's funny that there are certain people you would never think that would play Dungeons of Dragons. And I know this is not part of the, it is, but it isn't part of the, the, uh, book, but, um, there's a lot of people you would never think that actually play it. You know, Terry Crews is one of those guys that is really not only athletic when you look at him, he's very creative. He plays, he loves playing Dungeons and Dragons or role playing games in general. He's an artist as well. I never knew that he could draw so well. I mean, he. Magical when it comes to that, when it, with that creative side of him. Um, but Van Diesel's another one that many [00:13:00] people don't even think that do it.
[00:13:01] Um, the Big Show from W W E does it, you know, and these are people that you really, Joe Manganiello, you, you don't even think of people like that. Or, uh, Steven Spielberg. I mean, there's so many people that you look at and your like, "There's no way that they do that" but yeah, they do. They enjoy it. But back to the, uh, the book right now, I wanted to get your insight on something that we don't even see.
[00:13:30] Um, when we first get into this, into the book and. Like many prologue there's always has to be some type of underlying situation. Uh, that happens for us to really begin the story. And I wanted to get your insight on when we are introduced to the character Graytorris, excuse me. He is blinded. He is wounded and he is [00:14:00] running from some guards but I was wanting to see if you could give us like the architectural prequel to the prologue real quick. If it doesn't have anything that we have to find out later on.
[00:14:16] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah. So, you know, what I wanted to do was most books. When you read them, they start out showing the protagonist. and, uh, I want my books to be a little different. Every prologue is gonna show a villain and their backstory, because I think that in order to have a great villain, they. Not everybody is, I mean, villains are not born evil, right? Something happens to them, uh, whether it's, you know, conditional or physical or, uh, mental, and in his case, you know, the, the secret behind why he became who he is, is something that you learn throughout the course of the, of the four book series.
[00:14:56] It's not something that's revealed right away, but I, I give the [00:15:00] reader an opportunity to see into the blinded eyes of who was going to be the villain throughout the, the novels. Right. Um, and you know, the backstory behind that is, is really one that in part, comes from real life. Um, when I was, uh, younger, when I was in my, my late teens and early twenties, I had a series of recurring nightmares, um, that involved something very similar to what the, the main character Daemus Alaric sees in the novels. And. You know, and I kind of cast myself in the, in the character of Daemus, uh, while casting the evil recurring nightmare that I had as Graytorris and it was something that scared me.
[00:15:45] Uh, and I'm not talking about 10 years old, you know, or any of that kind of stuff. I'm talking about 17, 18 20. I was in college, you know, at 20 years old and experiencing these things and the, and the nightmares showed me something. And I just said, you know, what would [00:16:00] terrorize me? And so I created this character arc around the, the villain in my own nightmares. Uh, and then I just stuck 'em on top of Daemus and just made a fantasy out of it. So, uh, that's where that really came from. Um, you know, and I, I, I do that in, in book two, book three and book four you'll, you'll get a chance to see behind the scenes, uh, a little bit of the origin stories, uh, behind the bad guys, uh, because I think, you know, you've got enough pages and enough words to, to help you figure out what's going on with the good guys and who you're cheering for, but I wanna make the, the bad guys more believeable.
[00:16:34] Evolving Your Characters
[00:16:34] Marccella: I really love that. Um, cuz you know, he just answered one of my questions. I always ask if any of the characters in the book are, um, based on you or people that, you know, uh, we've had someone who I think her whole book was everyone she's ever met which is, is kind of, kind of where I go with that. When I meet a person, um, I decide you know how I'm going to utilize [00:17:00] that. And, uh, what was, there was a quote, one time, if a writer falls in love with you, you can never die. Um, so now this is out of curiosity. I had a character I created years ago and, uh, he was set in stone, that's it. And I met someone and he reminded me so much of this, that I changed the whole arc to, to be more like this person that I've met. Have you ever done?
[00:17:25] J.V. Hilliard: Uh, yeah. You know, so, uh, I think, you know, getting back to your, your, your quote, I mean, I, I think authors at, at worst are good observers at best they're incredible observers. And, you know, you can see a good story forming in your own life or someone else's life, um, or things forming around you.
[00:17:46] There are things that I write about that I see that I think, just look cool and I just put them in my, my, my novels, uh, in, in that way, you know, and then, you know. I, I think when you're writing fantasy or sci-fi or things that are not [00:18:00] grounded in realism, you have to ground part of it in something that's real, so that people can believe in that. There's enough world building out there that, you know, you can make a, you know, reversed gravity you know, realm. If you wanted to, you can make a realm where people live 10,000 years. There's no rules to that, but there has to be some rules that ground you and help you with that suspension of disbelief, you know, as a reader. And I think part of that comes with writing characters that are believable and, and you find that by, you know, people and behaviors that you see in life, uh, and you can either exaggerate them or, or, or fine tune them so that they fit those, those characters.
[00:18:38] And so in the case of Graytorris, he was just a character I'd met in my dreams. And I turned him into this evil, nightmarish, uh, villain, uh, in the novels. And in case of Daemus, you know, even though I don't see myself as, as Daemus in any capacity, it was just an experience I had that I thought was cool and I threw it on him, you know, as a [00:19:00] character.
[00:19:00] D&D and Villainizing Your Wife?
[00:19:00] J.V. Hilliard: I think the closest thing I've done for myself is one of the other main characters is a, a character named, uh, Sir Ritter of Vulcaneer. Um, and he's one of my old D&D characters. He was just a half-elven ranger that, you know, I basically co-opted the entire tabletop role playing game experience and, and, and build a character arc, uh, around him and, and change some names and things like that.
[00:19:24] But you'll, I, I tease, you know, my wife and her best friend, they gave me this idea. They, they wanted it to be called the Gemini twins and it was some goofy, almost comicy, superhero thing. And I said, no, no, no, I've got a great idea for it. And I created this creature in book two called the Ophidian, which is, which is this crypted.
[00:19:43] It's, it's basically a woman that's a conjoined twin and there's two tops of the twins kind of like Gemini, but they're evil. And they run this like bordello in one of the cities where they, you know, guys get this information and stuff like that. And there's a murder scene in it. And they're like, wait a minute, you took this [00:20:00] great idea, and you took your wife and her best friend and made them a conjoined twin in a bordello.
[00:20:05] I was like, oh, I didn't even realize I did it but I was like, and I thought they would be proud of it. I was like, Hey, you guys gave me this idea. This is what I did with it. Are you gonna be happy? And they're like, What were were prostitutes, like what, what had happened here, you know, and it's just one of those things where you just, you're never gonna live that down, but it's a true story and, and I think people will, will enjoy the, uh, the character of the Ophidian. So when you get to book two, wait for the Ophidian.
[00:20:32] Maccabee: Oh my gosh. I cannot wait to get that. That's freaking hilarious.
[00:20:37] J.V. Hilliard: All true. All true.
[00:20:39] Maccabee: I know, here's the thing I've I know I've seen my wife as a villain, in some ways , but I have never had the guts or gull to even put that out there in a book and like, yeah, yeah, I'm gonna make my wife and her best friend, the villains of this story.
[00:20:57] J.V. Hilliard: See in, in my head though, my [00:21:00] problem was Mack, I literally thought that this was like an homage. Like I was taking their idea and I was making this cool, rememorable, this totally memorable character that they, that they could say, oh yeah, i, I had an influence in making that something that if, you know, you were to read the book, you're gonna be like, wow, I remember that character cool name.
[00:21:23] Awesome angle just enough that it, you know, kind of, you know, adds a little flavor. Wasn't just some random, you know, I, I paid some guy in a bar and he gave me, I made an entire character out of this thing. And then you realize when you're done, you're like, well, yeah, it is. That's my wife. like, I made this character and it just.
[00:21:41] You know, it, it stuck and I mean, thankfully she's, we're still together and she loves me and it's all good, but yeah, I don't think she wanted me to go that way. She saw herself as this like superhero comic book, you know, flying to the rescue and, and I made them a villain. .
[00:21:57] Putting Your Spin On Worldbuilding
[00:21:57] Maccabee: Yeah, world [00:22:00] building and, and character creation is, is definitely something of... there's a, there's a line at some point, but even sometimes we just, as creatives, we just have to jump over that. Or in your case, you know, going over a cliff , um, into a bloody pool of something. Um, yeah. but speaking of the world building, I think it's really interesting how you created so many different things or put a twist on certain things as well.
[00:22:33] So for instance, when it came to the, the races, you know, in fantasy, we always have the, the standard, uh, J. R. R. Tolkien Tolkin version of elves, dwarf, uh, halflings. And of course, you know, the D&D world with dragonborn, uh, changing the stuff like this. But you took it and you actually gave them an entirely different, um, [00:23:00] name in some, in some ways. Yes, we still have the elves in there too, but you also gave us a perspective of giving them a, a nickname that either is conveyed as negative or even positive. What was your insight in, you know, creating these new systems and gods and all this comparative to just using the, the same thing like everybody else does in a way.
[00:23:27] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah. So I think that, I mean, you just hit on it there with your last statement, right? I mean, it's my world, I have to own it. And, and as much as Tolkien was the grandfather of the genre in many respects, you know, you wanna, you wanna create things that are your own. Uh, and so, you know, in my, um, in, in the realm of Warminster, you know, I do use the idea of elves because they are ubiquitous.
[00:23:54] In some cases, trope-ish but what I've done there is I've created this sort of like Indian [00:24:00] system of, of like a cast society for them. Uh, where the Vermilion Elf sits at top it all and these are the, these elves that are almost ethereal and all elven cultures nearly worshiped them. They've deified them and, and some sense where they, they are the closest to their God.
[00:24:16] This ancient known as Melexis and as you mentioned earlier, I use the, the term ancient to describe a, you know, uh, a God within a Pantheon of gods. And the Hall of the Ancients is where they, they live. And you know, I think that it was important, uh, for me to define them differently than you find them in Dungeons and Dragons or Tolkien, or, or, you know, any of the other, like the, the Terry Brooks, Sword of Shannara stuff, uh, you just needed to define them differently.
[00:24:42] Uh, and so I, I created them, uh, differently with that in mind. Uh, and then to get away from, you know, the, the standard, you know, rock dwelling dwarf that's, you know, with the big burly axe instead, you know, I made a realm of, of creatures known as twergs that I've given them [00:25:00] kind of a, a Nordic, uh, background.
[00:25:02] And if you, if you, you know, when I did my research, you know, into like Norse mythology, they had a lot of these things. In fact, the hauldrefolk in my, um, you know, in, in the realm and, and in my books are based on some of, of their like Pixies and Brownies and, uh, and things like that and have taken the names, more ancient names, uh, and tried to, you know, spring some, you know, give them their own life, uh, within the novel. And so I started looking at ancient cultures, uh, Indian, uh, African, uh, you know, uh, Nordic cultures, some, you know, Germanic, uh, and Scandinavian stuff. You mentioned before, sort of a, a Britannia feel for it. And I tried to do that alongside languages and monetary systems and, uh, religious systems to make it my own, uh, as part of that.
[00:25:48] And so that's why I did it. I wanted it to be unique, but I also wanted it to be familiar enough that if you were a tabletop role playing gamer, you were a fan of the movies, or you've read, you know, [00:26:00] Lord of the rings or any of the Brandon Sanderson stuff or Aragon, you're gonna be able to, you'll find some level of familiarity with it. So it's easy for you to kind of follow along what, what my races and my, you know, my monsters are, are doing here, but I wanted them to be unique.
[00:26:19] Juxta- and O-Nero, What?
[00:26:19] Maccabee: You even took it to the point of creating an entirely new style of magic system as well, or at least giving it a different, uh, title. Um, and, and you're, you're gonna have to help me with the, uh, pronunciation of the, uh, of the magic itself. Um, one of them being, uh, juxtaposing.
[00:26:42] Marccella: Juxtaposing?
[00:26:42] Maccabee: Is that correct?
[00:26:43] Marccella: That wasn't that hard. Was it Mack?
[00:26:46] Maccabee: I was confirming that I actually said it right, stop anyways. But the other one was, oh, this is one's gonna, uh, o-nero, a-nero-mancy?
[00:26:58] J.V. Hilliard: Oneieromancy. Yeah.
[00:26:59] Maccabee: [00:27:00] Oneiromancy.
[00:27:00] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah. So..
[00:27:01] Maccabee: Don't look at me like that. I have a 12th grade, grade level, okay. I didn't do good when it came to vocabulary. Marcella's like staring me down like I'm an idiot.
[00:27:12] J.V. Hilliard: Hey, look, I here. They're, they're pretty simple. So the, the idea of the Juxtaposition, uh, is one that's, it's taken from a lot of like Wiccan culture. Um, we always see, or especially around this time of year for Halloween such you have, you know, you've got, you know, witches that have black cats with them. Well, they, they were, they're called familiars and, and familiars are these little, you know, dominatable creatures that witches and warlocks use to do their bidding. Well, in my case, I inverted that a little bit. And instead of having, you know, the, the Wiccan as part of it in this sort of like Salem, black cat culture.
[00:27:52] And I took the concept of having a, a pet, but made it usable. And in the case of Sir Ritter of Vulcaneer, he's [00:28:00] part elven. And he's also has a sorcerous as a, as a mother. And so he is inherited this little taste of magic this little bit. And with that, he's able to control his own familiar, which is this war falcon.
[00:28:11] And he uses it to hunt. He uses it to protect his realm. So he he's able to juxtapose himself through the eyes of the bird. And when he sees through the eyes of the bird, his eyes actually turn into bird like eyes, but he's left his body and kind of projected himself into this this war falcon, and he can command it to see or to hunt or even to attack.
[00:28:34] Um, and you know, he can hear through his ears and, and be there as a, as a little bit of a spy in the same way that a black cat would or a rat or something else. Um, you know, in, in typical. You know, uh, literature, uh, they've used that too. And, and in the case of oneiromancy, oneiromancy is, is a form of, you know, uh, telling the future.
[00:28:57] Uh, and, but you do it when you sleep. Uh, [00:29:00] so the future comes to you in dreams, and then you have to interpret those dreams. So it's very Edgar Casey-ish. Uh, if you're familiar with, with him, um, You know, and there are other ways that other profits have done that over the years. Sometimes they look into a mirror.
[00:29:14] Uh, sometimes they look into a pool of water. Other times they they're looking at bones or rolling dice or flipping tarot cards. Everybody has a different form of this kind of seer ability..
[00:29:24] Marccella: Divination?
[00:29:25] J.V. Hilliard: Pardon me?
[00:29:26] Marccella: Divination?
[00:29:27] J.V. Hilliard: Divination
[00:29:28] Marccella: Divination tools, yeah.
[00:29:29] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah. So, you know, and as they're divining this, this knowledge from the ancients that it gets delivered to the Keepers of the Forbidden, you know, those that keep this forbidden knowledge for the, you know, the, the mortals of the realm, it gets delivered to folks like Daemus Alaric, who, who have this, this in his case, his sight comes to him in his dreams.
[00:29:50] Maccabee: Speaking of Daemus, I wanted to ask you real quick in terms of the ranking systems that you have within your world. Um, and I believe [00:30:00] Daemus is located at the Great Hall. Is that correct? It's one of the cathedrals, right?
[00:30:04] J.V. Hilliard: He's at the Cathedral of the Watchful Eye, yeah.
[00:30:06] Maccabee: That's what it is. Yes, the way that you had his ranking in terms of his title was Low Keeper.
[00:30:14] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah.
[00:30:15] The Life of a Low Keeper
[00:30:15] Maccabee: When we meet him, he's, he's dealing with this entire nightmare and just recovering through the night; and one of the things I was really interested in was when he was waking up in morning, um, after like 15 minutes worth of sleep, uh, he was saying that he had to go and, uh, sweep out the stables and feed the livestock.
[00:30:39] J.V. Hilliard: Right.
[00:30:40] Maccabee: What is the real position within this organization. Is it basically they're just slaves or servants or is it merely that they're students that are just, they have to do the hard stuff that the daily stuff and then go to, to study like they do in the military academies?
[00:30:58] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah, so it's, it's a bunch of that stuff, [00:31:00] right? So the, the divine protectorate of Erude, which is the, the ancient that they, they worship it's this. Uh, this God, or in this case, you know, this ancient of, of, of, of knowledge that bestows upon them, this the site and the site comes to these keepers of the forbidden in many different ways, as I described a little earlier.
[00:31:20] And when you start to manifest your abilities as a young child, typically you have a dream of a higher keeper coming to you and that keeper has a dream of you, and then you meet them and then they take you to the cathedral so you could become an initiate. So to answer your question and initiate is, is someone who's just arrived at the, the cathedral to begin training.
[00:31:43] Um, and then they rise to the rank of Low Keeper. Someone who's starting to attend classes and is understanding how to control their powers. And then that rises to prefect and. Uh, First [00:32:00] Keeper and then to the great keeper. And so whether it's something you would, you know, put in the ranks of like military or even, you know, using the Catholic church, like the Pope would be the Great Keeper versus a deacon or a priest or a Cardinal using that so that you can see a level of progression, which made sense.
[00:32:15] And part of that comes from training. Part of that came from his life experiences. Now in his case, his is a bit supercharged because of the situation that, that the story ramps up with, you know, in, in the prologue getting chapter one, uh, you get punched in the face with, with his origin story a bit.
[00:32:31] Um, but you know, I think that that helps to better understand where he is in the grand scheme of things he's just almost lowest guy on the totem pole. So yeah, go clean the stables. Yes. Go feed the horses. Yes. We need you to take care of these deliveries, but then during the day you're gonna come to classes and your prefects are gonna teach you how to hone your skills so you can be better at what you're doing.
[00:32:53] Maccabee: You really get an insight and almost the connection between Graytorris [00:33:00] and Daemus right from the beginning as well. It almost gives you that insight of, if I have to use someone else's version of it would be like Harry Potter and Voldemont or Vuldamont I, I can't say his name.
[00:33:13] J.V. Hilliard: Vuldemort, yeah. You're not supposed to. He who shall not be named.
[00:33:16] Culture Shock Between Kingdoms
[00:33:16] Maccabee: Yeah, exactly. Him. Yes. Um, but it was really interesting how you created relationship already between the antagonist and the protagonist in a way. Um, but also you almost gave a sense of, of culture shock too, as well as we're continuously reading, uh, through the book in terms of the different lifestyles and, um, formalities between, you know, Sir Ritter, Prince Montgomery and the way they live in a way, you know, Prince Montgomery and his cousins and his brother come from, you know, this great, [00:34:00] beautiful lavish castle. And then you get to Sir Ritter and it's like a huge contrast between this Fort and this castle of Sir Ritter growing up in this castle, that's seen hell and high water, you know, through the past and the future or recently.
[00:34:19] And then when you get into the great halls, it's even weirder in the culture shock of, you know, when you're in with the king. There's a huge level of separation between the servants, the soldiers, the royalty, and all this stuff. But yet when you get to Ravenwood, it's like, everybody's all right there.
[00:34:44] You know, the Royal family sits down with their soldiers, the servants, they all eat at the same table. And I love how you use the variations between our world in terms of the cultures. That have these various styles, like Norse, [00:35:00] everybody sits at the same table. Everybody works the same way.
[00:35:05] Even if it comes down to the king actually going out and helping put defenses up or anything like that. Um, with that being said, I did wanna get like a, a behind the scenes insight in terms of the conversations from, uh, what was it? The captain, um, shale with the Royal family on their way to the castle and him like thinking almost what was your thought process in terms of like that conversation?
[00:35:39] Like, okay, you're gonna come to a situation where this culture is gonna be completely different. When you walk into this great hall, it's not gonna be lavish. Like you're used to, it's going to be furs and animals on the walls. What was that conversation in your mind?
[00:35:57] J.V. Hilliard: Like, yeah. So, you know, captain shale was the [00:36:00] bridge character, right? Like he, the, the reason that, um, I, I, I made the dialogue go down. The way it went is, you know, he's bringing to the farthest reaches he's on. He's basically bringing the, the, the prince, the two princes and the two Viscounts away from Thronehelm. This capital of all capitals, where they're used to being, uh, and the, the culture shock of them going to the frontier to face these trollborn marauders.
[00:36:27] These, these. Brigans that are attacking, uh, where they are. Um, and knowing that they're not going to have the lavish stations that they once did and they show up wearing metal armor. Uh, and that's not gonna float when you're out there hunting, you know, brigans in the woods, you're gonna shine like a beacon.
[00:36:47] And so like, there's, there's the talk that they have to go through for, for that. But also, you know, it's, it's true, right. In many respects and, and, and I wanted to underscore the difference between Ritter as a low born noble [00:37:00] and one of trollborn blood and the real blue bloods, the royalty that's there.
[00:37:05] And even though they went to the same military academy together, uh, they don't remember Riter right, because he didn't eat at their table. Right. You know, he, he didn't get the same things, but Captain Shale remembered him, you know, and in the same way that a good captain would remember their best point.
[00:37:22] Or, or would remember somebody's valor at a certain battle instead of worrying about where the, the, the princes and, and the VI counts were, he knew that they were gonna be at the back of the line. He was worrying about his best warrior and he had recognized that it as Ritter, regardless of his station in life. So this low born night, that's born of trollborn blood, you know, didn't matter to him. He wanted to talk about the story that Ritter did well and how that came together.
[00:37:49] Where's My Copy
[00:37:49] Marccella: Um, well, I'm waiting for my copy so I can read it.
[00:37:56] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah. It's a lengthy read. It's not, I mean, it's, it's a nice, [00:38:00] it's epic fantasy, right? So expect what you expect when you think of epic fantasy. Just that first word, epic, you know, it's a lot of reading, a lot of details.
[00:38:08] Uh, and in the beginning, you know, I think that. It's a lot of characters that you're gonna have to learn over the course of a four book series makes it easy. But in the beginning, it's, it's like a blitz of them and it's, it's, uh, not for everybody. Uh, and that's okay. I mean, epic fantasy is something I love and, you know, having the, the histories and the annals of the histories go back and talk about it in the way that that Tolkien has and, or, um, you know, you like the Game of Thrones with Martin and the way he does it. I mean, you know, people that have been around in families that are around and there's history there for a thousand years, that's the kind of stuff that I like to write and really kind of enjoy immersing myself in.
[00:38:45] Marccella: Oh, well you were talking about someone you're talking to someone who would wait online at the bookstore overnight to get Stephen King's next copy of The Dark Tower. I dunno if you're familiar?
[00:38:56] J.V. Hilliard: I, I used to work at a bookstore. I'm very familiar with The Dark Tower. [00:39:00]
[00:39:00] Marccella: Yeah. Um, but it, it, I'm hearing a lot of, uh, and I. I'm hearing a lot of Dickinson in this and I was giggling to myself because I said, wait, there was a movie when I was a kid, it was my favorite movie. It was called a Flight of Dragons. And John Ritter played the main character. And I was like, God, is that who Ritter's named after? So I'm just, you know, that's the way my mind works. But..
[00:39:21] J.V. Hilliard: No, Ritter actually means "knight" in German. [Mm-hmm] You know, and so his father's name is Hertzog and Hertzog means Duke in German.
[00:39:29] Marccella: Right.
[00:39:29] J.V. Hilliard: So it was a matter of just taking those things and, and playing sort of like, because in my head as Mack mentioned earlier, there's a, there's a, there's a, a very Scandinavian and, and central European feel to at least this area of the realm.
[00:39:43] Uh, and so, you know, I figured those names might be something that people would have. You know, just..
[00:39:50] Marccella: Oh, that's great.
[00:39:50] J.V. Hilliard: It just, it just made sense. And of course Ritter is a knight, so it's a hidden way of saying knight without saying knight.
[00:39:56] Inspiration Corner
[00:39:56] Marccella: Right? Well, I think this is about the time where I [00:40:00] will be asking you just two questions. We used to call this our, our, um, fire round. What would, what did we call it, Mack? It was, it was our, our rapid, uh, round or something.
[00:40:10] Maccabee: Lightning rounding round.
[00:40:11] Marccella: Lightening round. Yeah, we had, um, we had five questions, but it was..
[00:40:14] Maccabee: Originally.
[00:40:15] Marccella: I'm not asking. Yeah. I'm not asking all these questions, so. So..
[00:40:19] J.V. Hilliard: Fire away. Sorry.
[00:40:20] Marccella: Yeah. Uh, no, it's only two now. So the first one is, what is your writing kryptonite?
[00:40:25] J.V. Hilliard: Um, so the simple answer to that is my dogs, you know. I I've got two dogs. One is a Siberian Husky named Thor. And the other, as I mentioned earlier, is a Red-Fox Lab Retriever, uh, named McLeod. And I am surprised as I'm sitting here in my home office, that they haven't, uh, stopped me and knocked on the door. McLeod, like he's very polite about it. He goes and scratches on the door. Uh, Thor will stand up and give you an entire conversation as a Husky. He'll talk to you. Uh, and typically they are the ones that are my kryptonite. They'll wanna go for a [00:41:00] walk or they wanna go for a drive or they're gonna want some food, or why, why am I talking into a screen and not talking to them?
[00:41:06] And why am I sitting in my office and not out there? And so sometimes that pulls me away. So I find myself migrating in times of great need of writing, leaving the house and go to a coffee shop or a library somewhere and just plugging in there. So that's my writing kryptonite, my dogs.
[00:41:23] Marccella: Wow. Um, I wish I had that problem, um. Okay, so last question. Is there a, a famous quote or song, or a person that inspires you to continue doing what you're doing?
[00:41:38] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah. You know, I mentioned it at the top of the show too. It's it's my Uncle Joe. I was really inspired by him in the beginning. He's long past, you know, 20 years with his condition. They were surprised he lived in the first place, but he lived through my formative years and he died when I was 20 and um, I try to live through that memory and anything I write, there's [00:42:00] a legacy in there.
[00:42:00] I dedicated, Mack, you teased about my warrior uncle who lived in the tower. He was, he was the one that was injured. And so I even snuck him into my bio as part of that if it wasn't for the time I spent with him and the time he frankly spent with me, I, I wouldn't be, uh, doing what I'm doing. So I think he he's my inspiration in, uh, in real life, I think in my fake life.
[00:42:24] Um, you know, I, I find inspiration by listening to songs. I agree with that. Uh, and whenever I'm writing a battle scene, I throw in some Metallica. Or some Five Finger Death Punch, uh, and that gets you in the mood. And then there's some other songs when you're writing romantic scenes or you have to write, you know, character involved scenes where just listen to the right kind of music and it gets you get, get your blood pumping in the right direction.
[00:42:46] Author's Shameless Promo
[00:42:46] Maccabee: For me, I have to, I would have to say in, in regards to music, I have to listen to jazz. Um, a lot of the older jazz. Miles Davis, John Coletrain, uh, Elle Fitzgerald, all the [00:43:00] really helped me to get there. But J.V., thank you for being on a show. We really appreciate it. Can you tell us, uh, where we can find you and anything that's coming up in the in your future?
[00:43:12] J.V. Hilliard: Yeah. Uh, I'm easy to find, uh, jvhilliard.com. H I L L I A R D. Uh, we'll take you to my website. You can also find my, my books. Uh, they're pretty ubiquitously available through, you know, distribution channels like Amazon or Apple Books or Scribed or Barnes and Noble. You could find me there. If you like eBooks, you can download 'em. If you like paperbacks, you can buy 'em. And if you like audio books, they're there for you to listen to.
[00:43:38] So, um, my social media channels are at JV Hilliard books. Or just JV Hilliard on Facebook. the rest of them are JV Hilliard books, but I couldn't get that one on Facebook for whatever reason. Uh, but the rest of them on, on Twitter, Discord, Instagram and Tech Talk. You can find me there too. So, and look, I appreciate the time you guys spent allowing me to come on the show. I really enjoy this [00:44:00] stuff and that hour flew quickly.
[00:44:01] So, I will say to your point about what's next? Uh, my second novel in the series just launched yesterday. So they can find Vorodin's Layer on Amazon, as it's getting populated into the rest of the systems, you can find it, your Barnes and Nobles, hopefully by the weekend.
[00:44:17] Maccabee: That's awesome. And trust me, I'm gonna get my copy too. Um, but yeah. Thank you again for being on here. We really appreciate it.
[00:44:24] J.V. Hilliard: My pleasure. Thanks guys for having me.
[00:44:26] Final Thoughts
[00:44:26] Maccabee: All right. Marcella, we got, what is it up now? Like two, we were 2000 last time. So is it 200,000 or 20,000 worth of a, uh, opinion about our great author here?
[00:44:39] Marccella: I don't know. You talk a lot, so..
[00:44:41] Maccabee: I didn't talk a lot this time. You did.
[00:44:43] Marccella: No, I didn't.
[00:44:44] Maccabee: Well, you talked a little bit on this one a lot more than you usually do.
[00:44:47] Marccella: I was listening. I was listening. Uh, no, I mean, um, It obviously it, it hit home in a way, you know, like a, it was huge D&D'er, when I was a kid, my kids now are [00:45:00] D&D'ers. That's what we call them here. Um, and we're so nerdy that this is like, oh, you know, like I said, it brought me back to that movie. It was my favorite movie as a kid, The Flight of Dragons. And I said, okay, you know, I'll give it a read. You know, me, if I like something, I will invest in it. So, um, yeah, it was cool.
[00:45:17] Maccabee: So what you're saying is you'll add it to the list of great books that you're going happen to not only find, but actually start reading.
[00:45:25] Marccella: Maybe .Add it to the pile.
[00:45:31] Maccabee: Sweetie. We, we have, alright, went from a pile to an entire room.
[00:45:35] Marccella: There here.
[00:45:37] Maccabee: Oh, you finally got him into that one little space now.
[00:45:39] Marccella: No, it was little.
[00:45:42] Maccabee: Anyways, anyways, well, for me, I really enjoyed it too. Yes, like you said, when you first start out, there is a lot of background on the characters and how they react and how their, what their connections are. But once you get past that, [mm-hmm], there's so [00:46:00] much involved in it that I thought was really interesting.
[00:46:03] Like I said, it, this is a great read, go out and find it. The links for his socials and his website, even the full version of his bio, will be in the bio on our website, BeyondthePenPodcast.Com. You can go there, find out where you can find his book, find his, websites and everything else that he's involved.
[00:46:27] Also the other thing is, remember after you listen to this, leave a review. Um, that'll help us to get up into the ranks on Apple, specifically, Apple and Spotify, and continue to share and interact with these great authors, go out, buy their books, buy their series of books, follow them, do everything you can to support them as much as they support everybody else. And like I say, keep writing, keep inspiring. And keep [00:47:00] sharing as you go the pin.
[00:47:02] End of Transcription
Author/Co-Founder of Twin Tales Publishing
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.