Thursday, 3 January 2013
Author Interview: Martin Roy Hill
Martin Roy Hill 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 Compass, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Opinion Section, and many more. Much of his 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.
In addition to writing nonfiction, Hill also writes short fiction. His short stories have appeared in such widely circulated publications as Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and San Diego Magazine. He is the author of "DUTY: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond," a collection of previously published and new short stories.
Recognized in the Defense Department as a subject matter expert in military medicine, Hill is also a nationally certified homeland security specialist. He has published papers in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Special Operations Medicine and Inside Homeland Security. Hill also writes a political and historical blog, "Yesterday, Today,Tomorrow," for Open Salon.
A veteran of the Coast Guard and Navy reserves, he now serves as a medical service corps officer in the California State Military Reserve, a component of the California National Guard. Hill has more than 13 years experience in maritime and wilderness search and rescue and disaster response, and teaches wilderness survival and first aid.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
A little of both. I use a plotting program to build the skeleton of the story, then start writing it. But very often I end up making detours from the original plot outline. The story sometimes goes where it wants to go.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
There have been occasions when a character starts to take over the writing. Sometimes that’s good. Other times, I’ve had to arm wrestle the character back into place.
What is your favourite food?
Whole grain pasta with oil and garlic. I love it.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
A morning person. I spent too many years as a police reporter for a daily newspaper where I had to drive around to local cop shops and pick through the blotter, then write my stories by a 7 a.m. deadline. Sleeping in for me, if I’m lucky, is 6:30 a.m.
I don’t dream of traveling anymore. Today I work as a Navy analyst in combat medical capabilities. Because of the wars,I spent the last 10 years traveling back and forth, packed into those flying cattle cars they call airliners, sleeping in hotels and eating restaurant food. Today, I’m happy to stay home with my family.
Do distant places feature in your books?
My latest book, “The Killing Depths,” takes place 300 feet beneath the western Pacific in the Sea of Japan. That’s pretty distant. Not much to see, though…
Do you listen to music while writing?
I do all my writing sitting on my living room couch, laptop on lap, with the TV on. I have tinnitus in one ear as a result of a serious infection, and background noise neutralizes it a bit. Music would be too distracting. I would want to listen to it, or sign along. The TV I can ignore.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
“The Killing Depths” feature NCIS agent-afloat Linus Schag, a character I originally created for a story published by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. In this book, Schag is sent aboard the first American attack submarine crewed by both men and women to investigate an apparent suicide. He soon realizes the crew member was murdered, and determines there is a serial killer aboard the sub. By this time, however, the sub is sent on a covert mission to destroy a renegade Iranian submarine carrying nuclear missiles. Schag has to uncover the killer while the sub crew engages in a deadly cat and mouse game with the enemy sub.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
The art is in the rewriting, so rewrite, rewrite and rewrite some more. And have a good editor. Fortunately, my wife, Winke, is a professional editor.
Is there anything you would do differently?
The first time I enlisted in the military, my father urged me to stay in and do 20 years so I could retire early. If I had, I could have retired and had more time to write. The older I get, the smarter my father gets. I wish I’d listened to him.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
My late father-in-law, Robert Wade, gave me input on my books. Bob, with his writing partner, H. Billy Miller, wrote some 30 mystery and suspense novels under the pen names Wade Miller and Whit Masterson, many of them turned into movies. If you’ve ever seen Orson Wells’ film noir classic, “Touch of Evil,” that was one of Bob’s books.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
What are three words that describe you?
Big cat lover.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
I have so many favorite writers in different genres. I’ve read all of Hemingway, some books multiple times. Love Raymond Chandler. Read everything Patrick O’Brian wrote. Current writers I enjoy include Jeff Shaara and Nevada Barr.
“Killers lurk beneath the waves of the western Pacific Ocean. The USS Encinitas, the first attack submarine crewed by both men and women, stalks the Crescent Moon, a renegade Iranian sub armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. But another predator hides aboard the American sub, a murderer who has already left a trail of dead women behind on shore. While the crew of the Encinitas plays a deadly game of hide-and-seek with the Crescent Moon, NCIS agent Linus Schag must discover the killer’s identity before his – or her – blood lust leads to the submarine’s total destruction.”
List of previous books if any:
Duty: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web:
Thank you, Martin and gooc luck with your books!