Interviews

Published interviews and personal profiles

Nebraskan

Superior Public Schools

Dear Elaine/Sam,

Apologies for tardy reply - I'm in Kazakhstan on a reading tour (which may also lead to a few keyboard errors...). Hope this is useful.

Q1. How did Mr. Hill's parents guide him in order for him to pursue writing? How did his enjoyment of writing begin?

A: My parents were not always actively encouraging of my choice of career, if writing can even be called a career (often it only feels like that in the dictionary sense of 'sliding downhill uncontrollably'. Otherwise 'calling' would be closer). They did provide a wealth of passive support, though. I mean I grew up in a house full of books, and full of stories. Both of my parents worked with words in one way or another. If there was an art form that characterised our home, it was writing.

My enjoyment of stories began with my father's bedtime stories: sometimes these were typical, sometimes less so. One of our favourite series was the stories of Odysseus - the Odyssey, in other words, although to us it was just the tale of a man trying to get home, and that was a desire we recognised from many other bedtime stories.

- Of course, this is where my enjoyment of stories began: I didn't know how to read yet, and in fact I learned to read quite late. I was more interested in stories and rhythms than writing itself.

Q2. Did any of his teachers inspire him to write? If so how? What other influences did he have?

A: I have had a few inspirational teachers (and quite a few horrible ones). I went to a big London comprehensive school (meaning a public school in your terms) and got a pretty comprehensive education, for better or worse. Nowadays I think it was better; at the time I really didn't think so. There were two English teachers who I will always be grateful to, and one Ancient History teacher ditto.

Other influences: one thing I would mention; I began writing poetry before I started reading poetry (and I began publishing poetry before prose). So I didn't start writing because I wanted to write like anything I had read. I started writing because there were things I wanted to say. I was inspired by primary sources (the world around me) not secondary sources (art or literature)

Q3. Does Mr. Hill have siblings? Are any of them writers?

A: I have a younger sis, who is a journalist, as our dad was. I'm very proud of her.

Q4. As a child, what did he like to read?

A: as I said somewhere up above, I learned to read late. I was resistant to the whole thing. I loved stories, and rhythms and rhymes, but I had all these things without writing - why learn to read, then?

In a way I'm glad of that mulishness. It meant that by the time I began to discover the great authors I already had the beginnings of a style of my own. I was saved from being over-awed by all the magnificent things that were waiting for me. And they were still waiting for me when I got there. Einstein once said it is a mistake to read too much once you're grown. I know what he means. Sometimes it's better to look and to think for oneself.

Don't get me wrong - I do love books. But sometimes writers are less in love with other writing and more in love with the world around them than people expect.

Q5. What is the biggest difference between writing novels and poems?

A: good question. But it's -24 outside and I have to get back to the hotel before it starts snowing too hard... so a quick answer: with poems I walk, with novels I sit.

Q6. What is the hardest part of writing?

A: the most exciting part: white paper.

Q7. Where does Mr. Hill do most of his writing-home, cafes, etc.

A: novels at home, poems on the hoof.

Q8. Is Mr. Hill athletic as a person. Was he in any clubs growing up-which ones? What is or was his favorite sport?

A: I'm an outdoorsy kind of person. More climbing or swimming than athletics. I'm not a team player - writers are often not. I like all the racquet sports.

Q9. What are your other interests or hobbies other than writing?

A: Terrapin collecting.

Q10. What does Mr. Hill feel is the biggest difference between a British novelist/poet and an American novelist/poet?

A: this is another good question. I'm so sorry I don't have more time to give you proper answers...anyway, short answer again: no one writes about the British Dream.

- Hope this is in time. All the best from Almaty,

Tobias Hill.


Mr. Hill,

Thank you so much for responding to my student's inquiries. Your answers provided the needed background information for his author's report. You also enlightened him about the world beyond rural Nebraska. He and his family have a 300 cow/calf herd with a couple thousand acres of diversified crop land. So, for you to write from Kazakhstan and speak of the value of living in London broadened his views.

I am also the media specialist in our schools. We will definitely have both your poetry and prose represented in our library.

Again, thank you. I could hardly believe that an author would have time to respond to a student. You certainly made Sam's day.

Elaine Miller, Superior Public Schools

Superior, Nebraska


Mr. Hill,
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to e-mail me back. I really appreciated it. I live on a fifth generation farm/ranch in the mid west and getting information is sometimes difficult, and right now we ( my family) have about 350 cow and heifers having babies, so needless to day it is hard to get off the farm. My mom telld everyone avout what you did and she wants to frame your e-mail :). Thank you again for everything Mr Hill.

Sincerely

Sam Klein

Guide Rock, Nebraska

Return to top of page ˆ