Butler County Times Gazette
Finding the sacred in everyday life
A chance to visit with Jill Williamson, author of ‘Replication’
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
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Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.\x34
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My newspaper colleagues and I used to joke that there was always a local angle to national – and even international – stories. So, I shouldn’t have been surprised that one of the authors we’re featuring in the Simply Faithful book club has Rochester, NY, ties.

Jill Williamson, author of “Replication [The Jason Experiment],” used to visit the area when her sister lived here. During one of those fall visits they went to pick apples and as Williamson looked out the window at the passing orchards she wondered what it would be like if there was a farm that grew people, a farm that created clones.

She answers that question in her teen book “Replication” ($15.99, Zondervan), where she takes her readers inside a hidden human cloning facility. As the adventure unfolds, she delves into questions about the value of life and about forgiveness, even of ruthless captors.

Even though the idea for the book came from Western New York, it is set in Alaska where Williamson grew up. It features characters who are working to find their purpose in life and struggling to live a life of faith that’s really examined, that’s more than black and white.

“Being legalistic can become a habit,” Williamson said from her home in eastern Oregon. “It can get us in rut.”

And that’s not where Williamson wants her characters to be.

You can hear more about her characters, her passion for helping other writers and her upcoming books during a Facebook chat with her at 7 p.m. Nov. 16. Join us at the Simply Faithful Facebook page and feel free to jump in with questions of your own. This is your time with the author. 

I hope you give the book a try, even if it isn’t your go-to genre, and I’d love it if you would discuss it with friends and make an effort to include younger readers in the conversation. Soon I’ll be sharing more about the other three books I’ve selected:



  • Who Built the Stable?” by Ashley Bryan ($16.99, Simon and Schuster).


  • “Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish” by Jenn Kelly ($12.99, Zondervan).


  • “Graceful: Letting Go of your Try-Hard Life” by Emily P. Freeman ($12.99, Revell).




Even though we’re focusing on younger readers, I think you’ll find there are lessons in these books for every age.

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