Interview (& Giveaway): Jill Archer, author of Fiery Edge of Steel (Noon Onyx Series)

Jill Archer is the author of The Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel (out March 28th), which are both part of the Noon Onyx series! I’m so excited to have her on the blog, so give her a warm welcome, and be sure to keep an eye out for a giveaway at the end of the post: Jill has kindly offered a copy of Fiery Edge of Steel to one lucky winner (US only)!

JillArcherJill, you’ve gone from Bachelor of Science, to law degree, to lawyer, and now writer of two post-apocalyptic fantasy novels! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and what inspired you to write Dark Light of Day (Book one of the Noon Onyx series)?
I’ve been a lifelong reader and I’ve always loved fantasy. For years I was a transactional lawyer and, from time to time, I’ve taught legal writing. I guess you could say I’ve been a wordsmith all my life.

My first completed manuscript was a sf/fantasy mix that was completely unmarketable. When I was looking for inspiration for a new project, I attended a writer’s event and sat next to a librarian at lunch. We each suggested the other tap into our careers to create new characters. I resisted at first. My first thought was that I wasn’t interested in doing a contemporary novel. But then we started discussing the character Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan from the movie The Mummy and what an awesome character she is. Which made me think that it might be possible to create a bookish lawyer character who lived in some sort of otherworld.

I have to ask…how did you celebrate when you found out that Dark Light of Day had sold?
Clinking glasses with my husband that night over dinner. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but believe me, it was. The months leading up to my offer had been, frankly, pretty horrible. My mother had passed away after a lengthy illness and I’d actually taken some time off from writing to return to a legal job because it made me feel better to get out of the house and do something I’d done for years. So when my agent called to give me the news, I wasn’t even home. I was working at a small firm, helping one of the partner’s with his cases.

When I got home that night and called my agent back, she told me about the offer, which was thrilling. But I still needed to get up and go to work the next day.

fieryedgeofsteelBook two, Fiery Edge of Steel is out at the end of this month! Will you tell us a bit more about the series and its heroine, Noon Onyx?
Noon is a student at St. Lucifer’s Law School (St. Luck’s) where they train waning magic users to be demon peacekeepers or Maegesters. As a student, Noon has several disadvantages to overcome. She has bad magic habits, a lack of control, zero fighting experience, and – worst of all, since part of her job will be to execute rule breakers – a pacifist nature. But her magic is strong and, even if she is a little naïve at times, she’s tough and feisty and has a good heart.

What do you enjoy most about writing fantasy?
It feels limitless. You have to follow the rules of your own world and novel structure generally, but otherwise there’s a lot of freedom for a writer when writing fantasy. If you’re creating your own world, you don’t have to be obsessed with historical accuracy or worry about the physical limitations of cities like New York or Los Angeles. (Of course, once your world’s history and settings are built, you are constrained by them, but the initial world building is a lot of fun). And fantasy is full of interesting characters, creatures, and magic, which give the stories a vibrancy that contemporary stories sometimes lack.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Will you tell us about your writing process and what kind of research you’ve done for your novels?
I start with an idea about the main character’s internal growth arc for the book and maybe some themes I’d like to explore. The ideas for the external plot usually grow from there. I write an outline and then I try to write a very good first draft, giving myself permission to go “off script” and deviate from the outline. I generally stick to the outline until the third act. The endings always change. They’re never the ending I originally outlined.

Due to the classroom scenes and student assignments in Dark Light of Day, I did some legal research. Most of it was just confirming my understanding of legal terms and concepts. I also researched demons, deities, and holidays from different cultures and religions. (I tend to use research as a jumping off point so sometimes the end creative product bears little resemblance to the original seed. Other times, the inspiration is obvious.) And I researched a bunch of antique apple varieties to create the ensorcelled apple wines that the Angels make. That was fun.

darklightofdayFor Fiery Edge of Steel, I did some research on a 16th century French imposter case (the Martin Guerre case). It’s a fascinating true story which has inspired several novels, movies, and musicals. I also did a bit of research on dahabiyas, the type of boat Noon and her investigative team take to the Shallows. I wish I could have taken a trip on a real dahabiya in the name of research, but alas, it wasn’t to be. I had to answer my questions through online research. I also researched several fairy tales, lullabies, hymns, and poems, some of which made their way into the story in one form or another.

What are a few of your favorite novels or authors?
All-time favorites include Anne McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Diana Gabaldon, S.M. Stirling, Maggie Stiefvater, Elizabeth George, Elizabeth Peters, Colleen McCullough, Ken Follett, Anne Rice, Stephen King, and Naomi Novik.

A newer “favorite” (I’ve only read one book of hers but very much enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading her next one) is Robin LaFevers, who wrote Grave Mercy.

If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
One? Impossible!

Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Dune by Frank Herbert, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte…

I read in your bio that you’ve lived in or visited almost 25 states! Which one has been a favorite, and why?
My current state, Maryland, is a favorite of mine. People call Maryland “America in Miniature” because it has so many different geographical areas: urban areas like Baltimore and DC, the Appalachian Mountains in western Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay shooting straight up its middle (a boater’s paradise), the Atlantic Ocean on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and rolling green hills and farms in northern, central Maryland.

Other favorites: Louisiana, Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont, and the Carolinas. There’s something to love in every state I’ve been to so it’s hard to choose. States I haven’t been to but would love to visit include Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska.

Your bio also indicates that you’ve had many different jobs. What’s something that you learned from your early work experience that you’ve carried into later life?
Trying isn’t good enough. To succeed, you have to do your best. You might not become “the best,” but if you achieve your personal best, you’ll be satisfied with the results and gain some terrific experiences.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to struggling writers?
That depends on what type of writer they are and why they are struggling, but assuming we’re talking about beginning fiction writers, don’t quit unless you want to quit. If you want to be a writer, then WRITE. Also, savor the process, not the product. Ninety-five percent of the time you spend as a writer is on the process. For a few weeks there’s excitement over the finished product. And then it’s on to the next. So love the process. 

What’s next for you and Noon Onyx?
Book #3. I loosely describe future books as having “new assignments, new adventures, and new adversaries!”

Keep up with Jill: Website | Twitter

1. You MUST fill out the form below (if you’ve signed into Rafflecopter before, it will remember you!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of FIERY EDGE OF STEEL by Jill Archer to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. You must enter on or before 6/1/13
5. Giveaway book courtesy of Jill Archer
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Obviously, pushing my favorite books has been a futile effort if none of them have made your list of favorites, Jill. However, I agree that choosing only one is too much to ask, so I’ll throw out Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, R. A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf series and Robin Hobb’s Assassin: Apprentice. Even keeping the list that short is difficult. On the other hand, I understand completely why you’d never include NJ in your list of favorite states — lol. That said, I’m waiting for Fiery Edge of Steel like some people wait for the newest HALO game. Maybe I could camp out in Barnes & Noble. Do you think they’d kick me out?

  2. I love that Evie from the Mummy is a favorite! She’s always been one of my favorite characters in movies!

  3. Thank you, Kristin, and to everyone here at My Bookish Ways for the interview!

    Shamus, your book recommendations are always excellent. It’s way too hard to pick favorites and mine are always changing. My favorite part of New Jersey is the Jersey Shore (the nostalgic, family friendly shore that has little in common with Snooki). My favorite beaches there? Ocean City and Cape May. I’m glad to see that recovery efforts are well underway, although I know it was the northern beaches that were hit hardest by Sandy in Oct. But back to BOOKS! Waiting for Fiery Edge like people wait for the newest Halo game, well now that’s an awesome compliment — thanks!! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it.

    Hope everyone has a terrific weekend!

  4. Hi Rebe! I actually just watched part of The Mummy again a week or so ago. I didn’t have time to watch the whole thing though, which is a bummer because I love that movie! Thanks for stopping by to check out the interview!

  5. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.

  6. Pingback: Toni Anderson, Author of The Killing Game (and I’m at My Bookish Ways today!) | Jill Archer

  7. Victoria Zumbrum

    I love the Mummy movies. I love Brendan Fraser and the case. The movies are really good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Interesting career path and great book covers!

  9. Congrats Jill! Thanks for the fun interview! The Mummy is a classic 🙂 Not just b/c Brendan Frasier is easy on the eyes but I love the “caper” feel of it 🙂

  10. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Jill, do you have an idea on how many books will be in this series and are any of them available through smashwords?

  11. This sounds like such a wonderful series and I’ve been meaning to pick up The Dark Light of Day for a while now. I guess I better get right on that because now I have another book to pick up. 😀

  12. Sounds good.

  13. This sounds like a very interesting series. Jill is a new author to me and I am going to added this series to my list to get.

  14. Jill, These books sound great. I will definitely be adding them to my TBR list.

  15. Hi Victoria, good to see you here!

    Hi Mary Jo, that’s great that you like the covers. Me too. David Palumbo did Dark Light of Day and Jason Chan did Fiery Edge of Steel.

    Thanks Erin! I love how fun that movie is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I love. And Brendan Frasier is awesome in that movie. 

    Hi Sabrena, it’s not available on Smashwords. Sorry. But if you prefer an ebook, it is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’m contracted to write three books. After that, what happens will depend on sales I suppose. (So, for those of you that like it and want to read more, please consider recommending to a friend :-)). I can also share here that I just received title approval for book #3, which is going to be called WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE.

    Jamie, Barbara, Leland, Becky, and Kristen— Thank you for the kind words!! I really appreciate everyone’s comments. Have a great Saturday!

  16. I read the first book and I can’t wait for the second one to come out. I am happy there is going to be a third. 😀

  17. What a fantastic series 🙂

  18. Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Just checking in. So happy to see Natalia and DF’s comments. Thank you!!

  19. Love the sound of this world and am looking forward to reading this series. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  20. Very nice interview

  21. Stopping in once more to say hi to Denise and bn100. Thanks, everyone, for the comments. I mailed the winner their book today. Have a great week, all!

  22. Pingback: Fiery Edge of Steel Blog Tour Winners & Thank You | Jill Archer

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