Bill Blume and Phil Hilliker

Phil and Bill are two fine fellows. They are also extremely talented Middle Grade and Young Adult authors!

Phil Hilliker has been a successful freelance illustrator for sixteen years. After working so closely with many different authors, Phil started thinking about the stories that he wanted to tell and became a writer himself. As a writer and as an illustrator, Phil tells us that he quickly recognized Middle Grade (the expanding literary genre aimed at 8-12 -year-olds) as his true niche. Though as yet unpublished, Hilliker has secured a literary agent for his exciting new novel, Atomic Diner, and is working on his next novel, this one based around “frontier” tall tales of the American West.

Though not a Richmond native, Phil says that the local writing community here has played a huge part in making the city feel like home. Hilliker is the Membership Coordinator for James River Writers, the largest writing group in Richmond (including more than a few prior P&C guests, like Kris Spisak, Patty Smith, and Cheryl Pallant). He has also created a wonderful hobby: Scrabble paintings. For years, Phil has created micro-paintings on the back of Scrabble tiles and has been leaving them in random public spaces. So, if you happen to find one around the Greater Richmond Area, hit him up!

Phil also teaches an awesome Introduction to Children’s Book Illustration at The Visual Arts Center of Richmond.

Bill “Wildcat” Blume has been on our list of guests we want on P&C for a long time. A longtime member of JRW, Bill served as the chair for their 2013 annual writing conference and is a frequent moderator of The Writing Show, a monthly writing panel at The Firehouse Theatre.

A writer since way back, Bill is the author of many published short stories, as well as the exciting Gidion Keep series, of which the first two books, Gidion’s Hunt and Gidion’s Blood, have been published so far. It’s a YA series about a teenage vampire hunter, navigating the tricky path of adolescence while using his wiles to kill devilish vamps.

Bill and Phil were wonderful guests, and we had a ball talking about Howl’s Moving Castle, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, and the vexing vampirical post-Twilight landscape for Young Adult Paranormal Fiction. Plus, advice for anyone who wants to publish a book! Check it out.

Since we’ve recorded this episode, Phil has sent me a couple of clarifications from our discussion, which I will include here. There has been quite a bit of criticism of the Indian in the Cupboard series from the Native American community, some links to which can be found here. Also, the story about Stephen Fry being unable to say the phrase, “pocketed it” while recording the first Harry Potter book is, sadly, untrue.  On a positive note, Felica Day has, in fact, narrated quite a few audiobooks!

This is Prose & Cons, thanks for listening ~