AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH MARTIN ROY HILL
Martin Roy Hill is the author of the military mystery thriller, The Killing Depths, the mystery thriller, Empty Places, and the award-winning short story collection, DUTY: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond. His book, Eden: A Sci-Fi Novella, was released in November 2014 to outstanding reviews. The Last Refuge, a sequel to Empty Places, will be released in March 2016.
Martin spent more than 20 years as a staff reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines, before becoming a military analyst specializing in battlefield medical operations for the Navy. His short stories have appeared in such publications as Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Alt Hist: The Magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History, Plan B Mystery Anthology, The Off the KUF Anthology Vol. 2, San Diego Magazine, and San Diego Writer’s Monthly.
A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Reserves, and the California National Guard, Martin has also served on a sheriff’s wilderness search and rescue team, and a federal disaster response team. He lives in San Diego, CA.
What are your favorite authors?
I think the authors that had the most impact on me when I was younger were the Lost Generation writers like Hemingway, Dos Passos, Remarque, and others. H. G. Wells also had a big impact on my early writing. As for more contemporary writers, I am a great fan of David Morrell. He is a consummate thriller writer.
What are your favorite genres to write?
I like to write suspense and action, so most of my work is in the mystery thriller genre. On the other hand, I also write sci-fi. In fact, my last published book, Eden, was a sci-fi novella about American soldiers in Iraq who discover an ancient secret about the beginnings of humankind.
What are your favorite aspects of writing?
For me, the act of writing is what keeps me going. I love getting an idea for a new plot and researching the subject and all that. But the physical act of writing is what I love most. It’s almost a zen-like experience sitting there and putting together words that create an atmosphere. When I finish, I feel more alive than any other time.
What time do you do most of your writing?
I have no specific schedule. Between my day job and family commitments, I have very little free time. So I carry a Kindle Fire tablet and Bluetooth keyboard in my ruck at all times and whenever I have some time, I pull them out and write.
Do you have any writing habits? If so, what are they?
My favorite place to write is at a cafe like Starbucks or Pete’s. Power up on caffeine and let my fingers fly. I try to write at least 500 word a day. The next day I go over what I wrote the previous day before I continue writing. When I finish a chapter, I go over it again and do a rewrite.
Do you usually type or write your first draft?
Oh, type, definitely. I’m so used to typing that I can barely sign a check without getting writer’s cramp.
How long does it take to write your first draft?
Usually about one year for the first draft. Then I put it aside for a while before I do a full rewrite. Then again, I set it aside for a while before doing another full rewrite. That allows me to come back to it with fresh eyes.
Are you a self-publisher? If yes, what made you decide to self-publish?If no, how was the process of finding a publisher?
I’m an indie. I started out going through the traditional publishing route. I wrote my first novel, found an agent, and nothing happened. Found another agency, and they went out of business. Found a third, and so on. In 2002, I left journalism and became a Navy analyst in combat casualty care. A few months later, the Iraq war started and our op tempo was so high I didn’t have time to write. When things quieted down a few years ago, I returned to writing fiction. That’s when I discover independent publishing. With my experience with literary agents, I decided to cut out the middleman and go indie. I published my first book, Duty — a collection of short stories about military service — as a sort of learning experiment. After that, I never looked back.
What’s your most recent book?
My latest book is The Last Refuge, which is due for release in March. The Last Refuge is about a battle-scarred journalist who is hired to investigate the death by friendly fire of a mysterious American engineer killed during the First Iraq War, Operation Desert Storm. The reporter, Peter Brandt, soon discovers someone is willing to kill to keep the truth about the engineer’s death from coming out. The Last Refuge is a sequel to my noir mystery thriller Empty Places.
On your recent book, what inspired you to write it?
I was a newspaper reporter and, later, an investigative journalist for a magazine in the 1980s and early 1990s. Today, that era has been glorified as some kind of golden period in American history because of the presidency of Ronald Reagan. But I was there. It was actually a period of economic turmoil with double-digit unemployment and great government corruption. More than 110 Reagan appointees were forced out of office by scandals and corruption charges, not to mention the whole Iran-Contra scandal in which the Reagan administration sold advanced weapons to Iran to raise money to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua.
With both Empty Places and its sequel, The Last Refuge, I wanted to hold a mirror up to those years. Empty Places used the desert resort of Palm Springs, California as a microcosm of the country in the 1980s. The Last Refuge focuses on the defense contracting scandals that came out of the excessive military spending of the 1980s.
The Last Refuge is scheduled to be released March 1st. (Add to your to-read boards if interested)
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