Interview with Meghan Hill

When did you first start writing?
I started keeping a journal when I was eight and have kept journals continuously since then. At age 12, I began writing poems and songs. As an English major, I took several courses in fiction writing but I have always preferred writing non-fiction: confessional, long-form journalism instead of short stories, novels, and roman a clefs.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Traditional publishing always felt like a gloomy, uninspiring, and near-impossible monolith to conquer. Most writers expect rejection as a matter of course, an occupational hazard but that's becoming obsolete. The only barrier to authors these days is the author and what they are and aren't willing to do to generate interest in their work. Although self-publishing has been looked at with disdain in the past, I think most readers are coming around to it, embracing it, and realizing that self-published writers can produce quality work on par with what is published traditionally. To me, being an indie author means freedom. There's no limit to what I can create and sell. Thanks to social media and the internet age, it's never been easier to produce, design, promote and sell your work and find readers to connect with.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Mark Coker's Smashwords Style Guide was a revelation for me. He answered questions and addressed formatting issues that had been frustrating the hell out of me for months. That guide is straightforward, easy to follow, and thorough. It renewed my confidence in taking back control of my books, formatting and design.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The writing itself. Sadly, being an indie author is about 10% writing. The other 90% is editing, formatting, designing, and wading through the dizzying avenues of promotion (social media, blogging, website upkeep, newsletters, review queries, etc.) Don't get me wrong. There's nothing else I'd rather do. But the writing (pen and paper) is by far the greatest joy. Going into a meditative state and writing for hours while the world is left behind. Heaven. Writing is therapeutic, revealing, engaging, healing, profound, absorbing, expressive, necessary, and miraculous.
What are you working on next?
I am publishing my 88 journals in chronological order under a pen name. I found out about Karl Ove Knausgaard's series while transcribing the second volume of my journals and felt I'd been beaten to the punch. But Mr. Knausgaard is a Norwegian man with a wife and four children. I'm a childless American woman. He published under "fiction" and I'm not allowing myself that safety net (hence the pen name). The journals cover what you'd expect to find in most lives: coming of age, school, first love, first heartbreak, travel, work, desire, and navigating relationships with loved ones, all the ups and downs. I'm basically opening my brain and heart for anyone to have a look at what's going on in them and has been going on for the past 27 years.
Who are your favorite authors?
Dostoevsky, Steinbeck, Tom Franklin, Harriet Doerr, Elizabeth Strout, Alice Hoffman, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Rumi. I know I'm omitting a ton that I can't think of right now. Most recently, Matthew Thomas. I could not shake We Are Not Ourselves for days after reading it and I didn't want to.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Knowing how much shit I have to do if I want to make a living as a writer.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Fireside talks with my honey and friends. Reading. Baking. Organizing things. Cleaning. Drinking coffee. Talking on the phone with my Mom or best Friend Julie. Drinking IPA or local wine. Anxiously awaiting the NYT Sunday crossword puzzle (Sunday can never come soon enough). Watching true crime/forensic/detective shows. Obsessing over how to make my books better and find more readers.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was an attempt at a classic fairy tale. I must have been 5. It made no sense to anyone but I knew what I was trying to say.
What is your writing process?
Sit down, pick up a pen and journal/notebook, and write until I'm empty of words.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I love children's books to this day but I don't know which one I read first. The first book that made me cry and pointed at what a great book can do: A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry.
How do you approach cover design?
Covers are intuitive. I enjoy researching the psychology behind them and learning what colors and fonts evoke in people. Leatrice Eisman of Pantone wrote an illuminating book called Colors: Messages and Meanings that I recommend to anyone designing something for sale, be it a book, service, or retail product. It's vital to hit the right note where the cover feels appropriate to the author and the essence of their book while attracting a wide audience.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Because what are more universal and compelling than transgression, regret and redemption?
The Pledge by Friedrich Durrenmatt. Riveting work of detective fiction. A masterpiece and recommended to all, regardless of genre preferences.
Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout. Authentic characters and voices. Sweeping in scope and yet beautifully detailed. I forgot I was reading and I forgot it was fiction.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin. Everything I want in a story: beautiful writing, mystery, twists and turns, climax, satisfying resolution.
Illumination Night - Alice Hoffman. Haunting, magical, tender. Perfect summer read to enjoy by moonlight.
Published 2014-11-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.