Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Interview with Martin Roy Hill, EDEN (A Sci-Fi Novella)

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My latest book is called Eden: A Sci-Fi Novella. Being science fiction, it's something of a departure for me. All of my other books – Duty, The Killing Depths, and Empty Places – are in the mystery, suspense, and thriller genres. But I love science fiction, and in the last year or two, I’ve published a couple short stories in that genre.

Eden involves a group of American soldiers in Iraq who are sent out to investigate a set of ancient ruins uncovered by a large sandstorm. As they approach the ruins, they are attacked by insurgents and take refuge behind the ancient walls. There they become trapped not only by the insurgents but also by another even larger sandstorm. When the detonation of an enemy mortar opens a hole leading to a buried chamber, the GIs take shelter inside. Inside the chamber, they discover a long buried secret about the origins of Mankind that threatens to destroy civilization as we know it.

The book gets its name from the fact that Iraq is believed to be the location of the Biblical Eden.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes, with the first book I wrote. That was my book Empty Places, even though I ended up publishing The Killing Depths first. I actually signed with two different literary agencies. After a year with the first one, I found out the agent hadn't been trying to sell my manuscript at all because – as she explained – she was working on her own novel. The second agency simply went out of business before it could find a publisher for my book. Not happy experiences, either one of them.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
The two experiences I just mentioned had a great deal to do with it. I had to take a nearly ten year hiatus from writing. Just before the Iraq war started I switched careers, leaving behind a 20-some year career in journalism to become a research analyst for the U.S. Navy. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our op tempo was very high and I just didn't have time to write. As the Iraq conflict began to wind down, I started to write again, first articles for magazines and web sites, then short stories. Then I learned about independent publishing and I was intrigued. It seemed to me to be the logical progression of the arts. Back in the 1970s or 1980s, movie producers and directors started making independent films. Songwriters and bands started putting out independently produced records and CDs not long afterward. Authors are just the latest artists to strike out on their own.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
So far, I've designed all of my own covers. As a journalist, I learned a great deal about graphic design and I enjoy doing my own covers. But I can see sometime in the future contracting that design work out.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
Between my day job, family commitments, and military reserve unit commitments, I don't have a lot of free time. I write anywhere I can find a few minutes to write. I carry a Kindle Fire tablet and Bluetooth keyboard everywhere I go and when I get some time, I pull them out. I also use an app on my iPhone that allows me to work on my writing anywhere I am. Having worked in busy newspaper newsrooms, I'm used to writing with a lot of noise. But I can't listen to music as I write. I get too much into the music. I'm likely to start singing or dancing rather than write.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I do a great deal of outlining and plotting. It gives me confidence that there's actually a story to tell. But when I actually start writing a book, the characters and the plot seem to take on a life of their own. I always say it's like planning a road trip. You look at the road map and decide where you're going and which roads to take to get there. But when you're actually driving, you start taking little detours because some road sign caught your interest.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I'm lucky to be married to the best editor I know. My wife, Winke, grew up in the publishing business. Her father, Robert Wade, was a well-known mystery author who wrote some thirty or forty novels under pen names like Wade Miller and Whit Masterson. Her step-father, Ed Self, was a well-known magazine publisher who created the city magazine genre. So she has more than twenty years of editing experience – as well as being a voracious reader – which she brings to the table. If I didn’t have her then, yes, I would definitely hire a professional editor.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I utilize all the social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn – and I have a web site with a blog. I find Twitter very useful. According to my analytics, I get a lot of click-throughs to my buy sites from Twitter. I also will occasionally buy advertising on a web site, and I have pay-per-click campaigns running on Goodreads and Google.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
I love all animals, but I have a special affinity for cats. I've had cats nearly my entire life. My current BFFFs (best furry friends forever) are twin orange tabby boys named Harry Potter Maximillan and Alexander Theodore. The names are bigger than the cats! As for the others—chocolate, coffee, and text. And I am definitely an early morning person, which is very strange because my wife and son are both very much night people.

What’s next for you?
I'm currently writing military mystery thriller featuring NCIS Special Agent Linus Schag, from The Killing Depths. The sequel is called The Butcher's Bill and involves a NCIS agent and close friend of Schag's who goes rogue. I’m also researching and plotting another military mystery thriller tentatively titled Polar Melt, which features a U.S. Coast Guard team investigating the disappearance of research ship in the Arctic Ocean.

Buy site link for Eden: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O5HYIQG
Author’s Website: http://www.martinroyhill.com
Author’s Twitter Page: http://twitter.com/MartinRoyHill
Author’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/Martin.Roy.Hill

About the Author
Martin Roy Hill is the author of the military mystery thriller, "The Killing Depths," the award-winning short story collection, "DUTY: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond," and the mystery thriller, "Empty Places." 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 freelance credits include Reader's Digest, LIFE, Newsweek, Omni, American History, Coast Guard Magazine, Retired Officer Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Opinion Section, and many more. Much of Martin's freelance work involves historical topics, especially military history. He was a lead contributor to the 1995 WWII anthology, "From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki: America at War," published by the Retired Officer Association (now called the Military Officer Association. He was also a contributor to the 2013 Civil War anthology, "Gettysburg: Three Days that Saved the United States."

Martin's 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, San Diego Magazine, and San Diego Writer's Monthly. His first book, "DUTY," was named the Best Short Story Anthology/Collection during the 2013 San Diego Book Awards (SDBA). "The Killing Depths" was also named a finalist for the SDBA Sisters In Crime Mystery Award.

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