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Author Interview: Martin Roy Hill

Martin Roy Hill is the author of the military mystery thriller, The Killing Depths, the noir mystery thriller Empty Places, and the award-winning DUTY: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond, a collection of new and previously published short stories. His latest book, EDEN: A Sci-Fi Novella, was published in November 2014.

  • : I've always been an avid reader. As a small child, my favorite part of elementary school was when the Bookmobile came on campus. In high school I took a class that allowed us to read whatever we wanted, as long as we wrote a comprehensive critique of it. My teacher liked my critiques and encouraged me to read more classics and to consider studying writing. That was it. I fell in love with good literature and also started taking journalism classes and writing short stories.
  • : The first thing I ever wrote for publication was an article for my elementary school newsletter on the launch of the first U.S. communications satellite, TelStar. But, no, I don't remember the first short story I ever wrote. I suspect I've blocked the memory because it was probably so bad.
  • : EDEN: A Sci-Fi Novella is based on the ancient astronaut theory first proposed by Erich von Däniken. I use it as a vehicle to explore several topics, including what people really know about religion and science. A group of American soldiers in Iraq is sent to investigate some ruins uncovered by a sandstorm and become trapped there, first by an insurgent attack, then by a second massive sandstorm. When they take refuge inside the ruins, the find evidence of an ancient occupation of earth by a more advanced race. It's called EDEN because Iraq is believed by many scholars to be the location of the Biblical Garden of Eden.
  • : I grew up in Redondo Beach, a beach town south of Los Angeles. I don't think the town itself influenced my writing as much as some of the people. My English teacher that I mentioned earlier, for instance. And my parents, Marty and Sophie, who fully supported my writing efforts. In fact, I dedicated my first book, DUTY, to them for that reason.
  • : It all depends. I'm a part-time author, so I have to work my writing in around a busy work schedule as well as family obligations. On weekends, I like to go to a coffee shop like Starbucks and write. During the work week, I squeeze it in as I can. I do most of my writing on a Kindle Fire tablet that I carry in my ruck. When I get a chance, I pull it out along with a Bluetooth keyboard and hammer out some words. I also use writing apps on my iPhone. In fact, I've written a couple of short stories entirely on my phone while sitting and waiting for business meetings to start.
  • : I have three works in progress, all novels. The Last Refuge should be out in late 2015 and is a sequel to my mystery Empty Places. I'm working on the second draft of a sequel to The Killing Depths called The Butcher's Bill. And I have a third book in the plotting and research stages.
  • : I'm a Navy analyst in combat casualty care. That's the job that pays the bills. I'm also an officer in a component of the California National Guard, and the executive officer of a state military police battalion. And, of course, I spend time with my wife, Winke -- who is also my editor -- and our son, Brandon.
  • : I'm a plotter. Before I start writing a story, I want to make sure there is actually a story there. Once I have the story sketched out, I start writing. I try for 500 words a day. At the beginning of each writing session, I rewrite what I wrote the day before. When the first draft is done, I put it away for a few weeks so when I come back for the rewrite I see it with fresh eyes. I usually do three rewrites that way before it goes on for editing.
  • : Far too many to name. I grew up reading the Lost Generation writers -- Hemingway, Dos Passos, Remarque -- but I also absorbed science fiction from writers like H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. My tastes are pretty eclectic.
  • : As I said earlier, I am currently a Navy analyst. Before that, however, I was a journalist for some 20 years working as a police reporter for a daily newspaper, a national award-winning magazine investigative reporter, and a newspaper editor. I've also served in the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Naval Reserve, the local Sheriff's wilderness search and rescue unit, and a federal disaster medical assistance team.
  • : The Kindle Fire. I love it.
  • : The physical act of writing. When I am actually writing, I tend to go into a zone. It's like meditation. When I finish, and the writing's gone well, I feel invigorated, happy.
  • : You can find out more about my novels at my website (www.martinroyhill.com). And while you're there, sign up for my newsletter to keep up on my projects, get writing tips, and publishing news. It's free.
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