The Silver Lining | Interview with Hilary Wagner!

Stay tuned later today for the LOSING FAITH contest results.

But now, I have the lovely Hilary Wagner on the blog talking about her book, NIGHTSHADE CITY.

Deep beneath a modern metropolis lies the Catacombs, the kingdom of remarkable rats of superior intellect. Juniper and his maverick band of rebel rats have been plotting ever since the Bloody Coup turned the Catacombs, a once-peaceful democracy, into a brutal dictatorship ruled by decadent High Minister Killdeer and his vicious henchman, Billycan, a former lab rat with a fondness for butchery. When three young orphan rats–brothers Vincent and Victor and a clever female named Clover–flee the Catacombs in mortal peril and join forces with the rebels, it proves to be the spark that ignites the long-awaited battle to overthrow their oppressors and create a new city–Nightshade City. View the trailer on the Nightshade City website!

I had the pleasure of obtaining an ARC at BEA and plowing through the book. I loved every minute of it! Hilary always talks about her rats with such enthusiasm so I had no idea if I’d actually get hooked by the book since rats aren’t exactly my thing. But I fell for the characters immediately. My heart went out to them as they tried to overthrow the tyrannical Killdeer and Billycan. Speaking of Billycan, he was so evil that I delighted in everything he did. Of course, I always love reading about the villains.

I also loved the writing and the voice and the clever language the rats had created, like calling the above ground world where humans reside "Topside."

I think this book will appeal to kids and adults alike.


Hi Shana, thanks for having me! So happy to be on your blog!


1. What inspired your book? Why rats?

I love animal fiction and I love Halloween, so rats seemed the perfect choice! Don’t even ask what creatures are in Book II! Let’s just say creepy rats are only the tip of the iceberg!

2. I can’t wait to see the new creatures in book 2! Are you a plotter or a pantser? If you’re a pantser, I’d love to hear more about how that works. If you outline, tell me about the process: how long/detailed are your outlines, etc.

Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what an outline is–definitely I’m a fly by the seat of my pants writer! Things seem to come to me in scenes. For Kings of Trillium, Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles, the book is in two parts. Before I even started Part II, I knew the very last scene. I knew unerringly how I wanted the book to end, even down to the dialogue. I think writing this way always gives me a goal to reach. I know where I want to be and all I have to do is figure out how I’m going to get there. Easier said than done I know!  I usually write scene by scene–building blocks of story. I guess it’s pretty organic (sometimes chaotic) and I suppose like that!

3. Wow, that’s crazy that you knew the dialogue of the last scene before you ever started on Part 2! Describe your writing routine. Set time of day? Set word count goal? Or do you squeeze writing in whenever possible? How do you juggle work, life, and writing?

My life these days is especially chaotic! Kids, husband, work, writing, eating, dare I say sleeping! It’s nuts! I write when the mood strikes, usually very early in the morning when everyone is still asleep or at night when it’s dark and quiet. So, basically there is no set routine. I never rely on word count. It puts undue pressure on me and I’d rather write 500 words of writing I love, then 2000 words of writing I’m lukewarm about.

4. Tell me about your revision process. Do you revise as you go or write straight through to the end? 

Usually when I write new scenes I’ll read through them at least twice before I move on. I’m a big believer in the rhythm of words, so I want to get that right early on or it will take me twice as long once the book is finished. Then when I am ready to edit the whole book, I’m not completely overwhelmed and there are less little things to correct. This way bigger issues stand out more and I can tackle them head on.

5. I think your attention to the rhythm paid off in the book! I loved the writing voice. What aspect of writing the first draft do you find the easiest? The hardest?

The easiest would be writing the first draft and the hardest would be…well…writing the first draft! Some scenes just seem to flow on to the paper. I (temporarily) feel unstoppable! Other scenes seem to leave me scratching my head for a while. When this happens I let things simmer for a bit and then suddenly I get that lightning flash! Eureka! I’ve got it! So…then I get that unstoppable feeling again and so on and so forth! 😉 I think the first draft is a rollercoaster. It’s exciting and fun to be on this new adventure you’ve set out on, but at times you just need to get off for a second so you don’t puke! 😉


Shana thanks for such great questions! It was such a pleasure to be here! 

Thanks so much to Hilary for stopping by the blog and giving such great answers! I always think it’s so interesting to read about an author’s writing process. 


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