Interview: Martin Hill

Posted: December 24, 2014 in Interviews, Military, Thriller
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Hill Photo

Today’s interview is with Martin Hill, author of the novella Eden.  First of all, Mr. Hill has served in the coast guard, Navy Reserve, and is now an officer in the state guard.  I’d like to personally thank him for his service to our country.  We covered everything in our interview from his career as a journalist to who would win in the ultimate smackdown between George Washington and George Patton.  You can find links to his work and his contact information at the bottom of the interview.  Here’s how it went:

Will:  Tell me a little about yourself.  Where are you from?  Family?

Martin:  Well, Will, I’m a native Californian and, with the exception of military service, I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life. I grew up in Redondo Beach, just south of Los Angeles, and now live in the San Diego area with my wife, Winke, our son, Brandon, and our two cats, Harry and Alex.

Will:  Where do you find inspiration for your stories?  Do you always gravitate towards the same genre?  Or do you mix things up a bit?

Martin:  Story ideas come to me from my reading or from seeing something on television that sparks a “What if?” question. The idea for my latest book, Eden, came from watching the television show Ancient Aliens, which explores the theory that mankind’s development may have been guided somehow by extraterrestrials. At the beginning of each episode, a narrator asks, “What if it were true?” I started wondering, “Well, if it were true, then why? Why would they come here?”

About the same time I read about a group of researchers who used satellite imagery to identify in Iraq the location of Eden as described in the Bible… That made me start thinking, “What if some American troops in Iraq stumbled onto the remains of the Garden of Eden. What would they find?” The two “what ifs” merged into the idea for Eden. It started as short story, but finally grew into a novella.

Eden does represent a change for me genre-wise. Eden is sci-fi and my previous books, Duty, The Killing Depths, and Empty Places, are all in the mystery, suspense, and thriller genres. However, I have published speculative and alternative history short stories, which are sci-fi sub-genres. And in Duty, which is a collection of military short stories, there is a story that could be considered paranormal. So, yes, I guess you’d say I like to mix things up.

Will:  Your newest novella, Eden, without giving too much away, tell me about it?

Martin:  A massive sandstorm in Iraq uncovers ancient ruins. An American patrol sent to investigate is ambushed by insurgents just outside the ruins’ walls and takes refuge inside. Trapped there by the insurgents and another, even more powerful sandstorm, the GIs take shelter inside a buried chamber. There they discover an ancient secret about the origins of mankind, a secret that threatens to destroy civilization as we know it.

Will:  Your bio says you have a military background and worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers.  What was that like?  It sounds pretty exciting, how much of the world have you seen?

Martin:  I’ve served in the Coast Guard, the Navy Reserve, and am now an officer in our state guard. All of my active duty time was with the Coast Guard, and I pretty much just saw the ocean, except for when I was stationed on an island in the Great Lakes. Most of my time in the Coast Guard was spent on small boats doing search-and-rescue and maritime law enforcement, and after the 9/11 attacks, homeland security missions.

I was a journalist for twenty-some years, and worked as a crime reporter for a daily newspaper and an investigative journalist for a magazine, among other assignments. Journalism is a great experience for novelists. You get to see things other people don’t, and to meet people others just read about in the papers or see on TV. My novel Empty Places was inspired by my years as a crime reporter. But journalism also wears on you. You see things that haunt you for years afterwards, and learn things that make you grow cynical. Eleven years ago I left journalism and became a research analyst for the Navy.

Will:  Ok, the question we all want to know, who would win in a fist fight between Patton and Washington?  Who’s the toughest George?

Martin:  Oh, Washington, definitely. George Washington was a big strapping man, well known for his size and strength. Patton was tall, but not like Washington. And like his British counterpart Montgomery, Patton was a lot of bluff. I still write a lot of military history articles, and have read a lot about Patton and Monty, and I’m not impressed with either of them. My father served under Patton for a while during WWII’s North African campaign. He wasn’t impressed by Patton either.

Will:  What’s your writing process like?  Hammer out a first draft?  Outline?

Martin:  I’m a plotter. I like to know where I’m going, and plotting lets me know for certain I actually have a story to tell. Right now, I’m writing a sequel to The Killing Depths. I plotted it out while I was still writing Eden. Now that Eden’s published and I’m writing this new book, I’m researching and plotting another book. By working on two projects at once, I’m able to keep productive even if I develop writer’s block on the project I’m writing.

Even though I do a lot of plotting I find when I start writing, the characters and even the plot itself often take turns I hadn’t planned on. I compare it to taking a road trip. You look at the map and plan your trip. But when you start driving, you begin to take turns you didn’t plan because something catches your fancy and you want to go exploring. It’s the same way with the act of writing, at least for me.

Will:  Who’s your favorite author of all time?  Why?

Martin:  Ernest Hemingway, by far. Papa had the biggest influence on me, the way he could write so simply and yet so beautifully. In fact, several of The Lost Generation writers influenced me—authors like Dos Passos and Remarque. The science fiction genius H.G. Wells also had a big impact on me growing up. I still enjoy reading him. In fact, the way Eden is written — using what is sometimes called “the lost manuscript technique” — was inspired by Wells’ writings.

Will:  Do you enjoy any hobbies?  How do you fill your time when you’re not working or writing?

Martin:  Not working or writing? Is there such a thing? Seriously, between my day job and writing, as well as family and military reserve commitments, I don’t have a lot of free time. But my family and I do enjoy going to the theater, especially to productions of Shakespeare’s works. My son is studying theater in college, and the theater provides a good opportunity for us all to do something together.

Will:  Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Martin.  I wish you all the best!

Martin:  Thank you, Will, for the opportunity to connect with your readers!

Once again I’d like to thank Martin for taking to time to talk to me and for his countless years of service to our country.  You can pick up a copy of Eden and connect with Martin with the links below.  Please be sure and share this interview on your social media sites and help a fellow author get the word out.

Bio:   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 latest book, “Eden: A Sci-Fi Novella,” was release in November 2014 to outstanding reviews.

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 Civil War anthology, “Gettysburg: Three Days that Saved the United States,” published by I-5 Publishing.
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, The Off the KUF Anthology Vol. 2, 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 in 2013. “Empty Places” received the same honor in 2014.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 on two disaster response teams. He lives in La Jolla, CA.
Eden  Kindle Cover 100314
Contact Martin:
Website:  click here
Twitter:  click here
Facebook:  click here
  1. Would love you to review What Solomon Saw and Other Stories, available on Amazon–Kindle version available soon. I could also send you a manuscript. To learn more go to Thanks, Mary Dean


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