I like to think I’ve been quite involved with the publication of Will Hill’s debut novel Department 19 (link to review)- as well as having written a review of this fantastic novel, I also got to meet him in London several weeks ago and now, I’m the final stop of his blog tour. So, we’ll be celebrating his publication with a short interview and a contest to win a SIGNED, HARDBACK COPY of Department 19! More details at the bottom of this post.
Will Hill: Firstly, thanks for having me at ThirstForFiction! It’s very nice to be here…
T4F: From start to finish-how long did it take you to complete Department 19?
WH: It took about eighteen months from when I actually started writing it – although the idea for a continuation of Dracula had been kicking around my head for about a decade before that, since I started reading horror and became interested in looking back at where the genre had really started.
I wrote the prologue and the first three chapters in about three days in April 2008, then took three months away from the manuscript to plan the story and work out the history of the Department – there was more than a century of characters and events that needed solidifying before I carried on. When that was done, I wrote the rest of the novel in just over a year. It was finished in August 2009.
You have experience in the publishing industry- how did that affect your writing?
WH:I think the biggest thing was the demystification of the process – when I was growing up writing and publishing a book seemed impossible, seemed as remote as being a film director in Los Angeles or an actor on Broadway. But six years in publishing showed me that there’s a lot of luck involved, and a lot of fortunate timing, and the central truth that publishers need books, just as agents need clients.
I learned a lot about how not to behave as an author, and I learned a lot about how the publication process works, so I suppose it was useful to have seen it from that side. However, I don’t think it really affected the content of Department 19, or its chances of publication.
Once you’ve left the world of Department 19, do you think you’ll ever return?
WH: That’s a tricky one!
The ending of the Department 19 series has always been clear to me, whether it takes another three or four or ten books to get there, and it’s a very definite ending – once we get there, I don’t think there’ll be any story left to tell. But it’s a long away, for now at least.
Also, I do have the very earliest beginnings of an idea that I’d like to write once the Department 19 series is finished. Although that’s all I can say about that for now…!
T4F: When you write, do you think of the people who read your books, or do you just write something you enjoy?
WH: I think that if you’re writing commercial fiction, if you’re hoping that people will spend their time reading something you wrote, you have to consider your (hypothetical) audience – but more than anything, if I’m not enjoying what I’m writing, then I can’t really expect anyone else to enjoy it either.
T4F: How do you make the characters who they are- do they all have elements of yourself in them, or is there a method to it?
WH: There are definitely elements of myself in at least some of them – my only frame of reference for writing Jamie was to remember myself when I was sixteen, and so there’s no doubt that he is informed by my teenage self. I don’t think he’s very like me – he’s a lot braver, and a lot more determined, but there are definitely aspects of myself that I recognize in him. I think, to be honest, that I’m probably more like Matt than Jamie, but I didn’t intentionally pattern either of them after me.
As for the rest of the characters, they all appeared pretty well fully formed in my head when I was planning the book. Some of them changed over time – Larissa, for example, was never meant to be as important a character as she is, but I just liked writing her so much, and she began to become so important to the story, that I reworked a lot of what I had planned to accommodate giving her a bigger role. But generally, they suggested themselves at the start and stayed as I had first imagined them.
T4F: And Finally, What is the most enjoyable part of writing a novel?
WH: Looking back over what you’ve written at the end of the day and realising that you have something that works – even if it’s just a single scene, or a conversation, or a particular description – is the most enjoyable part for me. It makes it all feel worthwhile.
How to win a signed hardback copy of Department 19
- Must be 13 or older
- Giveaway ends on the 12th May, so just under a month!
- Open Worldwide (though it might take while to deliver if you live far from the UK)
- No bonus entries, because I’m of the opinion that everyone should be given an equal chance to win this! If you can (re)tweet this/or post about it on your blog, I will love you forever! And, of course, you’re always free to follow me on twitter/ with Google Friend Connect!