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  • Writer's pictureJessica Cantwell

The Weight of a Thousand Oceans by Jillian Webster

Updated: Jan 23, 2022

If you enjoy reading dystopian fiction, you will love this next book. The Weight of a Thousand Oceans by Jillian Webster is a beautiful piece of art. Elegantly written, this novel paints the perfect picture of a dystopian world and one woman’s struggle to find her purpose in life. Before we chat with the author, let’s read the synopsis:

In a world where cities sprawl like half-submerged skeletons, Maia has spent her entire life hidden within the mountains of New Zealand. Her only companions being her ailing grandfather and a nomadic dog named Huck, Maia resents being alone. She spends her days wandering the runs of a population long-gone, dreaming of a place where the few humans left behind can start again – a place her grandfather insists is a myth.

But Maia cannot escape a strong and mysterious force calling her out into the world, as well as bizarre events following her around the island. There is something strangely enchanted about the land in which she lives … or is it her?

When Maia hears a rumor that people are heading to The Old Arctic Circle half a world away, she knows this is where her destiny lies – until a devastating turn of events seems to shatter any hope of reaching her destination. Clinging to the edge of her life, Maia must come face to face with the transformative power of fate, discovering the one thing she has spent her life running from may be the only thing to save her.

J.C. - Jillian, I’m so happy you are here! Before we talk about The Weight of a Thousand Oceans, can you take a moment introduce yourself to our readers?

J.W. - Thank you, Jessica! I’m so happy to be here! My name is Jillian, I’m originally from Michigan but have been living in New Zealand for seven years now. I came here as a backpacker for a “six-month adventure” and never left! I published my first work of fiction, The Weight of a Thousand Oceans, last June 2020 (the first of a trilogy) and just released the next book in the series called, The Burn of a Thousand Suns. I’m a proud tree hugger, yoga lover, dog mom and food fanatic. It’s lovely to meet you all!

J.C. - I love the concept of this story. What made you come up with the idea?

J.W. - The original idea for the story came to me out of the blue, while reading a quote from Warsan Shire. She writes, “Later that night, I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered, where does it hurt? It answered, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” Right after reading her words, the idea for this trilogy appeared as what is now the opening scene of Chapter One. It was an eerie vision of an old man and a young woman huddled around a candle in a dark cabin hidden in the woods. She whispered, “Grandpa, tell me.” I saw it like a movie in my mind. The story was originally supposed to be one book. I wanted it to be a completely realistic story told from the viewpoint of our children’s children after everything our scientists are warning us may happen from global warming, happens. However, this story has always had a life of its own. Therefore, I have given in to the literary Gods and the story is now an epic saga with a fantastical twist, told over the length of three books.

J.C. - My favorite part of the book was the little bit of magic sprinkled throughout. Do you have a favorite part of the book or a favorite character?

J.W. - I love to hear you enjoyed the magic sprinkled throughout! Other readers have said this book is like a fantasy novel for the realist. Magical realism is the technical term, although the magic does grow a lot throughout the three books.

It’s hard to say my favorite part of the book without giving anything away. I have a few actually, but they would be such spoilers to mention! So, I’ll answer who was my favorite character (besides the main character, Maia), and that would have to be Huck! I wrote about him years before we got our own dog, and it seems I attracted my own version of Huck into my life. Lucky me!

J.C. - Maia is incredibly brave. Would you be able to do what she does in order to survive her journey?

J.W. - I would like to think I would, but it’s hard to say. Her journey was incredibly dangerous, but I did draw on some personal experience. When I was in my twenties, I quit my job, sold my car, and left everything behind with nothing but a backpack to travel the world on my own. I was scared to death and completely lost my appetite for the first week of the trip, but my heart had been calling out to me to do this for years. I backpacked across Europe, Africa, Asia and ended up in Australia. No one else from where I came from had ever done anything like this – most of my peers were getting married and having children, so I felt very alone and different. I fought against going for years. Eventually, I left (and wrote about it in my first book, a travel memoir called, Scared to Life) and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. After I published The Weight of a Thousand Oceans, I realized both my memoir and my first novel are about a young woman heading out into the world to find a place where she belongs. They say write what you know…

J.C. - I was so captivated by Lucas and his relationship with Maia. Was his character inspired by anyone in particular?

J.W. - Hmmmm, Lucas is a complicated fellow! I would say most of his personality came on its own accord. Although, I was inspired by some of my favorite love stories on sitcoms I’ve grown up with. Both with Rachel and Ross on Friends and Jim and Pam on The Office, the love was complicated and you had to wait for it. I found as much as it frustrated me, it also kept me riveted and rooting for the characters. I didn’t want Lucas and Maia to instantly fall in love and live happily ever after while riding off into the sunset … at least not right away. Their story not only evolves through much of the first book (from when you meet him), but throughout the entire second book as well.

J.C. - Who has been your biggest support system while on this writing adventure?

J.W. - My husband, without a doubt. I told him about this “crazy idea’’ for writing a book back in 2015 and he was incredibly supportive. I worked on it for years at 5 a.m. before heading off to work for the day, as well as evenings and weekends. So, now for this second and third book, I’ve reduced my hours as a dental hygienist so I can have more time to write and he’s been my biggest cheerleader in this transition.

J.C. - Finish the sentence. In ten years I’d like to…

J.W. - be living somewhere tropical during our New Zealand winters … and watching my series (The Forgotten Ones) play out on Netflix between writing more books. A girl can dream!

J.C. - The Weight of a Thousand Oceans is your debut novel. The thought of a dystopian world is certainly very eerie. Will we learn more about what caused “The End” in the sequel?

J.W. - The readers do hear a little more about what caused “The End” in the next novel but not a lot. I drop a few clues like I did in the first book, but I like the eeriness of the mystery. I certainly do give readers a little more detail, but I think it has more punch when you don’t have every detail and can make the story your own. I used to love the series, “The Walking Dead”. For the longest time, viewers didn’t know exactly what happened when it all went down … and it didn’t matter. The series was still good and the scenery was still spooky. I was inspired by that.

J.C. - You have been working hard on book two, The Burn of a Thousand Suns. What can you tell us about it so far?

J.W. - I can tell you it is bigger (around 100 more pages), darker, full of suspense, tragic love and a lot more magic. The first book has an introduction where you, as the reader, ease into this peaceful and quiet life in the mountains of New Zealand. You won’t get that same peaceful transition in the next book. You’re straight into it.

J.C. - Lastly, where can readers find you and your work?

J.W. - Thank you again, Jessica, for this lovely opportunity! Readers can find me on Instagram (where I share my life, travels around New Zealand, updates about my next book, and sometimes pictures of my dog) @authorjillianwebster

My website is another great place for information, reviews and updates –

My books on Amazon can be found through the following links:

The Weight of a Thousand Oceans

The Burn of a Thousand Suns

Scared to Life

Goodreads reviews and information can be found here:

The Weight of a Thousand Oceans by Jillian Webster | Goodreads

Thank you for reading about Jillian Webster and The Weight of a Thousand Oceans.

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