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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 ( 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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