(Science Fiction author Terry Hill): Thank you Mark for having me here this week.
Mark asked me to spend some time the first day writing a little about my works. At first I was a bit gob smacked as to what I could say in a short post which would do them justice and not be too verbose as to put you to sleep or click away.
When I began my journey into writing, a bit late in life I might add, I used two adages to focus my writing in this new, freighting, and exposing world: ‘Write what interests you’, and ‘Write what you know’. Having a lifelong love of science fiction, philosophy, and having worked at NASA for fifteen years at the time, the decision to start with a science fiction novel seemed quite obvious. But I soon realized the story of my first novel could not be captured by one alone, and so a second was born, and then a third.
Writing a 100-130 thousand word novel can be daunting, and quite rewarding when you write the final words. But more to the point, it is exhausting, particularly when done in parallel with a day job with the space agency and a young family. So after the third published novel, I needed a change of pace. Right about the time my third novel, Evolutions, was with my editor, in 2015 I got exactly what I asked for and Life happened.
I unexpectedly found myself in a fork in the road both professionally and personally. Those of you who have lived long enough to know what I’m talking about understand the need to be able to focus your mind on something constructive to provide a healthy level of escape from reality. For the next year I spent my extra cycles developing a historical fiction story of which I had thought about for decades and never really knew what to do with it. But the time had finally arrived and it was time to tell the story of the days leading up to the nativity from Joseph’s perspective. Of the themes in the book, ‘doing the right thing despite personal wants’, and ‘renewal of faith in life’ are present, and in hindsight was what I needed.
Then a couple of months after Joseph of Bethlehem was published, Hurricane Harvey slammed my part of Texas with a thousand-year flooding event the likes of which Texas had never seen. Over the decades of my adult life in Houston we had been negatively impacted by every major storm which came our way, but through randomness I won’t speculate, Harvey missed us. So for weeks after the water receded, I spent long days in friend’s and stranger’s homes trying my best to help them salvage what we could of their belongings, their homes, and their lives.
The sheer magnitude of devastation and personal loss was beyond one’s ability to soak in and grok, and would take months for even me as a bystander to internalize. Having had my home flood in the past, I knew all too well the path the hundreds of thousands who were flooded this time would have to endure. Partly out of survivors guilt and out of a desire to document this historic event in a way that would continue to help people after the media’s lime light moves on, Two Months With Harvey was born.
During the years after 2012 I had been introduced to a community of authors in the Future Chronicles, led by Samuel Peralta. Samuel had been publishing themed anthologies of short stories which were topping the charts one after another. I was extended the opportunity to have a short story published with Samuel.
Short stories are a very different animal than novels. I look at them as a ‘slice of a novel’s life’. But more importantly I used this opportunity and many that followed with this anthology series and others, to use the short stories to flesh out novels that I wanted to write, but really wasn’t sure how to start or what angle to take. Several short stories and a novella later, all sprinkled across traditional sci-fi and speculative fiction, historical fiction, and reality, I found myself asking “What next?”
As an author you are told to stick with one genre so as to not confuse your loyal readers, so that you’re a known quantity. I’m sure there is much wisdom in that. However, I’m a real person who is multifaceted and has many different interests. Lots of different stories to tell and worlds to explore.
While most of what I will write will be in science and speculative fiction, there just might be a comedic satire or fantasy romp waiting in the wings. :-)