20 Minutes with Abigail Hilton

Abigail Hilton
Abigail Hilton

Abigail Hilton is… she’s just… wow. Perhaps best known for her “Guild of the Cowry Catchers” series and the YA prequel (actually the pre-prequel) “The Prophet of Panamindorah“, she actually has whole volumes of material she has been drafting and revising since she was an early teen. Plus she co-hosts the fabulous and Parsec Award-winning Full Cast Podcast with Bryan Lincoln, so when she grabs the big chair at the Roundtable everybody better hold on tight…  the writerly goodness (and the laughs) come pretty quick. (and make sure you swing by to enjoy Abbie’s Workshop Episode!)

PROMO: Scott Roche’s “52 Weeks of Indie

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Abigail Hilton

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

Listen to this episode on iTunes

Episode Breakdown

01:05 – Abbie’s Strange and Eerie Tale


04:55 – With such extensive worldbuilding, how do you decide what to deliver to your readers without massive info dumps?

  • 05:50 – I cheat with chapter quotes to provide a broader picture of the world
  • 06:30 – The characters only provide what you need to know relevant to them and their circumstances
  • 07:10 – I remove a lot of material on second
  • 07:45 – I would rather confuse people (with not enough information) than bore them (with too much)


09:50 – Did you run into issues with your fan base transitioning from a YA novel to a more maturely themed series?

  • 10:15 – There were definitely people that I lost… not a lot but a few.


10:20 – What prompted you to move into a more mature format?

  • 10:40 – I write the stories that I have to tell and some are for kids and some for adults
  • 10:55 – I had 4 epic length works before I even started pursuing publication or podcasting
  • 11:15 – That was how I made friends with people
  • 12:00 – There may be people who won’t recommend Prophet because they’re afraid they’ll find Cowry Catchers
  • 12:10 – The bulk of my audience is adult and if they have an issue, that’s their problem
  • 12:50 – I try to warn them on the podcast and on the site but they STILL get offended


13:20 – What do you draw on from the real world to inform your fantasy races and cultures?

  • 13:55 – The natural world is more alien than Aliens
  • 14:10 – Spent time in veterinary school before going into medicine
  • 14:30 – Most of my alien creatures are based on actual things in the real world


14:45 – Scott Roche’s “52 Weeks of Indie


15:35 – How do you integrate the biology into the culture

  • 16:35 – I’m a student of human nature. Like Watership Down is about rabbits, but really it’s about people
  • 17:05 – Interested in personality typing systems
  • 17:15 – The politics is more about human nature and how we relate than actual real-world systems
  • 17:50 – People will shut you out if start talking about politics because they already have an opinion
  • 18:10 – But they will think about what you say if presented in a kind of “alien” context


18:20 – Was having no humans in your story a conscious choice so you could have a venue for that kind of discussion?

  • 18:50 – No. That’s just how it worked out. I’ve been working on this world since I was 16 years old
  • 19:25 – People can have problems visualizing something that’s unfamiliar so I used recognizable animals as a foundation
  • 20:10 – I use illustrations to help alleviate the confusion
  • 20:25 – I sell plenty of versions without the illustrations… I just love artwork


20:55 – With such complex epic plots, how do you prepare and pace the story structure

  • 21:35 – Personally, I think Prophet is too complicated
  • 22:05 – You’ll enjoy the story more if you appreciate the tension but if it gets too complicated you forget what the tension is
  • 22:30 – Limited Third Person POV really helps
  • 23:00 – Starting with the opening scene, just keep moving towards the scenes that I’m really looking forward to writing


23:30 – Do you find that readers respond more emotionally to your characters getting injured because of their animal characteristics

  • 24:10 – I certainly play on that
  • 24:15 – People also accept certain kinds of violence from animals that would be out of bounds for a human
  • 24:30 – For example, a carnivorous species hunts other species
  • 25:00 – The fact that they are different species helps mitigate that since we don’t have any experience with other sentient species


25:50 – What are you working on now in terms of improving your craft?

  • 26:15 – Neil Gaiman said don’t look at the rules so you’ll never know what you can’t do
  • 26:30 – I have novel (“Hunters Unlucky”) that I wrote when I was 15 years old (250,000+ words)
  • 27:25 – I’m going chapter by chapter and rewriting them
  • 28:00 – It feels like retelling a myth because it was a part of my childhood
  • 29:30 – I kept thinking about it and if I keep thinking about something it usually means I need to lay it to rest
  • 29:40 – Releasing book chapter by chapter on website including commentary and deconstruction
  • 30:05 – Will ultimately release a more polished version but for now you can read it for free

Related Posts

Comments (1)

Abbie is awesome. The Fullcast Podcast would be much more boring (and not award winning) if not for her voice, knowledge, and experience. And her work ethic is inspiring.

Comments are closed.