Interview with Robert Hill

What type of stories do you typically write?
I used to lean more towards science fiction, but found that I just have a hard time keeping the fantastic elements of my brain from getting in the way of the hard science. Eventually, I drifted more towards fantasy, and the first story I ever published was actually a story about a wizard and his apprentice called "The Magic Fruit". It appeared in the Fall 2000 edition of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine. I was quite surprised, too, because I had been sending short story after short story to Marion, and she just kept rejecting them. I almost gave up on her, but then it happened. I even won an award from the magazine for the best story for that quarterly edition, beating out the likes of Andre Norton, who had the cover story for that edition. You can imagine now just how surprised I was over this. Over time, however, I have gravitated more and more towards fantasy that is less like sword and sorcery and more like something Kafka might write or Dali might paint. I still write the traditional high fantasy pieces, but I rather enjoy fantastic settings without dragons and wizards that contain a dream-like quality to them while at the same time trying to keep the story coherent enough to suspend disbelief.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My five favorite books are probably a bit of an eclectic collection, and this is in no ranking order. "The Old Man And The Sea", by Hemingway comes vividly to mind. Hemingway is perhaps my favorite author above all, but this story has a power to it, speaking to that man versus nature scenario with a bit of futility mixed in. "The Songs of Distant Earth" by Clarke. This may not have been one of his most well-known works, but I enjoyed the prose and the storyline with its basic retelling of the "Mutiny On The Bounty" but in a future setting kept me turning the pages. The third one that comes to mind is "Starship Trooper" by Heinlein. This story was nothing like its movie version to which many have been unfortunately exposed. I enjoyed the philosophical approach of the novel and how it discussed things like what it really means to be a soldier and a citizen within a complex society. Perhaps my all time favorite was "The Lord of The Rings" by Tolkien. I say this not only because it was well-written, but also because it is perhaps the main influence that inspired me to become a writer. The last of my five favorites is Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five". Vonnegut's dark humor and cynicism appeal to me, and I rather enjoy laughing along with him as he pokes fun at humanity. Also, much of what Vonnegut wrote had a bit of the absurd to it, which is right up my alley. I will add a sixth, just for kicks. It's not a full-fledged book, but like Vonnegut's work, it holds great appeal for me as a reader and a writer, and that is "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka.
What are you working on next?
Well, I have a number of small, as well as not-so-small, projects in the pipeline. After having finished "One Second Before Awakening", I embarked on a series of non-fiction projects, of which the recently published "The Art Of Motivation" is the first of its kind. I'm also wrapping up the last two episodes of the "Wonderland" series, which has been quite popular apparently. I'm intending on eventually combining all six episodes of that series into a short novel, given its popularity. The goal in the next year is to have yet another motivational book out, several short fiction pieces, and "The Wonderland" novel version completed. Beyond that, probably more nonfiction while I continue to work on the sequel to "One Second Before Awakening".
What do you read for pleasure?
It varies really. I often drift towards classical literature, but often it is the type that holds a fantastic bent to it, such as Don Quixote or Watership Down. I think I have read just about everything that was ever written by H.G. Wells, and tend to cringe whenever there is a movie adaptation of his work.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
As a young child, I lived in the city suburbs south of Chicago, but more across the border in northwest Indiana. Later, when I was ten, our family moved out to the cornfields a little further south of there, so I received a bit of country living as well, and had my share of bailing hay, harvesting corn, fishing for catfish in the nearby bayous of the Kankakee River. How it influenced me shows up in just about everything I write. There are bits and pieces of me in just about all of it. In a soon to be released short story, I go into describing an abandoned, shut-down steel mill, for example. My father once worked in the steel mills south of Chicago, and now those are all but abandoned now. Even in my more speculative stories, there is always a bit of who I was as a child and who I am now. Also, my mother enjoyed reading, and she influenced me in that regard. I do not think I would have become a writer had it not been for her. That planted desire to read opened my mind to all the great stories of the past, hence inspiring me at such a young age to take a crack at it myself.
When did you first start writing?
I first started when I was 12 or 13 years old. I mean, I seriously started making up little stories, and I even tried to submit them for publication. I was rather precocious and idealistic about it. At that time I was living in the country, and we were far away from all our school friends because the school I went to was not in the town I lived, but rather several miles away. Hence, during the summer months many of my school friends were quite distant from me and rarely seen. So, I remember many summers where I would stay up late at night, much to the chagrin of my mother, typing away on my grandmother's manual Smith Corona typewriter (circa 1920s).
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Well, I have been around long enough to see a major shift in technology when it comes to the publishing industry. When I started out, self-publishing was almost a sin, it seemed. Vanity publishing was like telling the world that your writing was so bad your own mother would not like it. I managed over time to get a few short stories and some poetry published in the traditional sense, but it was daunting even ten years ago. Now I see that the writing community, and to a greater extent today's readers, are embracing those who self-publish. It would seem that the old establishment is being pushed aside because of the onset of digital publishing and the "ebook generation". This has made it even more difficult for a writer to become "traditionally" published because the indie author's are actually gaining ground in the market. And you know what? I like that! Although writers are entering a technology boom, it really feels like we are going back in time where an author's work rose to the top of the heap based on its own merits and not based on the decisions of a few well-placed, or perhaps misplaced, individuals sitting in some office space in NYC. I think everyone has a story to tell, and now the tools are available for everyone to give it a try. If the writing is superb, readers will read it. So, here I am. I'm part of the movement now, so to speak. Besides, I enjoy writing stories, not endless query letters to anonymous strangers who hold my writing career in the palm of their hands.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I receive an immense emotional rush from it. There is nothing more exhilarating than diving into a new story. It is like base jumping from the top of Mount Everest ... without a parachute. It is both scary and thrilling. And when I put that last word down on the page of something I know is excellent, I am not ashamed to admit ... it sometimes brings up a tear.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My most recent work is a non-fiction piece based upon my own experiences as a martial arts instructor and also upon my own personal life experiences as a successful entrepreneur and business owner. "The Art of Motivation (Motivation From A Martial Arts Perspective)" encompasses a broad range of topics centered around the aspect of motivation. It provides insight on how to set personal goals, visualize your purpose in life, getting motivated and staying motivated to achieve your dreams and desires, and how to take those necessary steps to achieve success in life even when the odds are stacked against you.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
In today's world, I have found that networking combined with social media has been the best way for me to find "my tribe". As the social media content provider for our martial arts training academies, I've been fortunate to reach out and connect to so many fantastic people.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Most of my time is spent guiding my martial arts students, both young and older. It consumes a great deal of my time, but is truly a labor of love. For years now I have had the pleasure of helping many achieve their goals and to become greater than they could have possibly imagined. Beyond that, I spend my time with family - immediate, extended, and blended. Since I typically live a life based upon essentialism, I rarely spend my time or my money on things, but rather on experiences. I've been fortunate enough to travel extensively abroad having enjoyed the rich cultures of several locales all over the globe. Life is about the present experience and living in that moment, so every adventure is embraced fully - good or not so good. If it entails mountain bike trails, boating, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, or exotic foods, I'm down for it. Otherwise, I'm on the couch with a good book.
Published 2017-08-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

A Real Character
Series: Lost In La Mancha. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,620. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
A modern-day man finds himself immersed within the adventures of Don Quixote - so much so, that he has found himself trapped within the character of Quixote's fictional sidekick, Sancho Panza.
Off With Their Heads, (Part Five of The Wonderland Series)
Series: Wonderland. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,060. Language: English. Published: September 2, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Lupita Espinoza was a forty year old, single mom who often wished of being anywhere in the world other than Corpus Christi. But when a geologist in Antarctica appears in her bathroom mirror, Lupita begins a journey that will take her to places never dreamt possible.
Atmospherocephalic Bureaucrat (An Interrogation Of A Heretic Skull Of The Collective For Preaching That The World Is Not Already Painted And Is Based Upon Free Will, Written As Salvador Dali Would Have Painted It)
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 1,030. Language: English. Published: September 2, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
A reputed art dealer finds himself suddenly existing within an actual painting having been rendered by Salvador Dali. Is it a dream? Is it a delusion? Or is it part of something far more sinister? Captured within a surreal moment, a real man must determine what is real and what is imagination.
Vain
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 200. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
(4.00 from 1 review)
Revenge is best served cold with a hot cup of coffee. Years in the making, revenge pays a visit upon a vain woman.
The Art Of Motivation (Motivation From A Martial Arts Perspective)
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 20,690. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Motivation and inspiration, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / Success
Want to get motivated and stay motivated? Learn how to have a positive mindset while transforming your dreams into reality? Visualize your goals and achieve success? Written from the perspective of a martial arts Black Belt instructor, this insightful resource can help you turn dreams into goals and your goals into success.
Queen Of Hearts (Part Four of The Wonderland Series)
Series: Wonderland. Price: Free! Words: 7,050. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Lupita Espinoza was a forty year old, single mom who often wished of being anywhere in the world other than Corpus Christi. But when a geologist in Antarctica appears in her bathroom mirror, Lupita begins a journey that will take her to places never dreamt possible. Queen Of Hearts is Part Four of the multi-part series "The Wonderland", a science fiction romance.
Saturday Night Meat Market
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 520. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Horror » General
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Some things taste better with barbecue sauce. A flash fiction psychological thriller.
Late For Tea (Part Three Of The Wonderland Series)
Series: Wonderland, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 5,200. Language: English. Published: May 16, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
(5.00 from 1 review)
Lupita Espinoza was a forty year old, single mom who often wished of being anywhere in the world other than Corpus Christi. But when a geologist in Antarctica appears in her bathroom mirror, Lupita begins a journey that will take her to places never dreamt possible. Late For Tea is Part Three of the multi-part series "The Wonderland", a science fiction romance.
Val
Price: Free! Words: 1,250. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(5.00 from 1 review)
One moment West was sweeping a room for Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah, and then the next he found himself sitting in a strange bar and grill, staring at a curvaceous waitress. But how had he gotten there, and where had he seen that waitress before?
Caught In The Moment
Price: Free! Words: 1,300. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Psychological
(5.00 from 1 review)
A man finds himself at a friend's surprise party where everything becomes frozen in place and in that moment is surprised himself by what he discovers in the midst of that instant captured in temporal amber.
The Part To No Genesis
Price: Free! Words: 2,520. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
A man with a hump on his back awakens from a coma only to find that the hump is missing ... and so is his wife.
The Lie
Price: Free! Words: 770. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
A nostalgic and touching story of an eight year boy who is confronted by his father at Christmas regarding his torn coat. The only problem is he does not know how his coat got ripped, and his father does not believe him. So the boy plays the only hand he has in order to bring the confrontation to an end.