Interview with C. J. Hill

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In the North of England - quite an austere and historical place. I was always interested in other places and times; I imagined warmer countries and different ways of life. I had some wonderful influences: my mother always read stories to me as a young child and I was encouraged to read as much as possible, and English teachers who instilled a love of classic British writers such as Hardy, Austen, du Maurier etc.
When did you first start writing?
I honestly never considered writing to be something to do until a few years ago. Well, I had always liked composing short pieces and writing a diary but nothing of great interest really. Once my children grew up I dabbled a little more, and then decided to answer some annoying questions I encountered every time I taught Pride and Prejudice.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's focusing again on another backstory to Pride and Prejudice; all of the characters have their own lives and I like to imagine what those are while the main storyline is going on. This time I'm filling in the story behind our favorite rake, George Wickham!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
If indie publishing was not available, then my first book would still be sitting on my computer - finished but unread. Fortunately indie publishing is available and is so accessible for anyone who wants to publish; it still seems unreal that my book is out there and being read by fellow Austen devotees!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords was the other entry point into the indie publishing world - getting my book out to the widest audience was my goal once I decided to pursue it and Smashwords enabled that to happen. Mark Coker's very helpful books didn't hurt either!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When my characters do or say something I wasn't expecting! I always thought that I, as the author, was in charge but more and more, as my characters interact with each other in situations, they take over the action and things have to be changed to accommodate that! Kind of weird but true.
What do your fans mean to you?
They make me very humble and happy! When someone likes my book or takes the time to post a positive review, I know that I must have done a good job of entertaining that person for a little while; taking them out of their everyday and into my imagination! That's why I read - to enjoy someone else's imagination and seek refuge from the everyday. So I'm always delighted to have been able to do that for someone else.
What are you working on next?
Well, the next backstory will be out soon - hopefully! And I have several other scrappy ideas floating about that I'm waiting to coalesce. It's rather like shaking a sno-globe and watching the flakes settle into a certain pattern. Then I'll start to listen to another set of characters and take their dictation!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
All the possibilities that may happen to the characters once I sit down to write.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Thinking - a great deal - while carrying out the other mundane aspects of life. Reading and admiring other writers' techniques and imaginations now I know how hard it is. Teaching adolescents to appreciate great writing and to try to emulate it. I also have a great interest in playing orchestral music - it takes me away from the everyday and allows me to think.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mainly through genre - I look for ones I want to read depending on my mood at the time; sometimes I go for classics and sometimes something humorous - probably the same as all readers!
What is your writing process?
Lots of research, note-taking, thinking, character backgrounds, and then focus on the ending! Once I know where I think things will end, I can start writing towards it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The adventures stories by Enid Blyton which really sparked the imagination and made every child who read them envious of their adventures. The Narnia stories by C S Lewis also made the impossible, possible.
How do you approach cover design?
Colorful and classy. No typical period-drama ladies fainting on a sofa. Needs to be something I would want to display on a coffee table.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Pride and Prejudice - funny, true and fascinating
Grapes of Wrath - really highlights the human capacity for hardship and struggle
Rebecca - haunting, mysterious and beautifully written
Gentlemen and Players - a murder mystery that has an amazing twist at the end
The Dollmaker - one of those books you will never forget
Describe your desk
A lap-pad! No desk as such but just enough to hold my laptop and portable to enable writing anywhere I want.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a kindle which is really great for traveling and discovering new writers. Also for those really enormous books that I tend to like to read!
What do you read for pleasure?
It all rather depends upon what I feel like reading at the time. If I want a light read, then I will go for a murder mystery or something humorous; if I want a challenge, then, usually a classic I haven't read yet.
Who are your favorite authors?
Many authors; so many reasons, other than if I see their name I will want to read their writing. In no particular order it would have to be: Austen, Hardy, Steinbeck, du Maurier, Hawthorne, James, Oates, Harris, Allende, Lamott, Arnow, Kingsolver, Atwood
Published 2013-12-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.