Martin Roy Hill is the author of the military mystery thriller, The Killing Depths, and the award-winning DUTY: Suspense and Mystery Stories from the Cold War and Beyond, a collection of new and previously published short stories. Martin spent more than 20 years as a staff reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines before becoming a Navy analyst specializing in battlefield medical operations. 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 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 (now called the Military Officer Association).
Martin’s short stories have appeared in such publications as Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, San Diego Magazine, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, and the Plan B Mystery Anthology and webzine. His first book, DUTY, was named the Best Short Story Anthology/Collection by the San Diego Book Awards Association (SDBAA). His first novel, The Killing Depths, was a 2013 finalist for the SDBAA Sisters In Crime Mystery Award.
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.
What inspires you to write?
I like to think I have something to say through the stories I create. My short story collection, as the title suggests, is all about military service—what it means to those who serve and how it impacts them. Writing is also addictive. When you’re writing a story and it starts to come together, it’s thrilling. Sometimes I get lost in the story. I see it in my head as if I’m actually living it. It’s a great escape from the everyday world. And if I can make money from it, that’s just icing on the cupcake.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m afraid it is haphazard at best. I’m a military analyst by day, and tend to work long hours. I try to squeeze in an hour of writing each day, about 500 words a day, but I don’t always succeed. I do a lot of my writing on weekends sitting on the couch with my laptop. I recently bought a Kindle Fire and a Bluetooth keyboard that I carry in my backpack—it’s a lot lighter than my laptop. When I end up someplace where I’m waiting, I take it out and do a little writing
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh, I listen, definitely. My characters develop their own voice, and when I’m working on a scene I hear them in my head saying their dialog. I hear their accents and their inflections. Oops. I think I just admitted I hear voices…
What advice would you give other writers?
Writing is a business. It’s hard work and harder work selling your product. You have to keep at. An author friend and I were discussing this a while back, about how as indies we spend so much of our time getting our books noticed. I told him, “This ain’t no build it and they will come. We’ve got to go out there and pull the readers in.”
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I tried the conventional publishing route—you know, get an agent who gets you a publishing contract, etc. I signed with three different literary agents and they all turned out to be flakes. Then, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the op tempo in my day job was so high I pretty much did no writing for years. When I finally came back to it, I discovered indie publishing. After reading up on indie publishing, I tried to give it a try. That was what my first book, DUTY, was—an experiment, a way to get my feet wet.
As a former journalist, I have a lot of experience editing and designing publication layouts, so self-publishing wasn’t that difficult for me to learn. I actually enjoy the production end of it—you know, designing the cover and such. I’m also lucky in that my wife, Winke, has even more editing experience than I do. I don’t have to pay for an editor to work on my book; my wife edits everything I do.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think publishing is evolving, and I believe conventional publishers are going to have to evolve with it. Surely, big name publishers put out books by big name authors, but they also charge a lot more for their books than small publishers or indies. And the economy’s not doing that well, so people don’t have a lot of money for discretionary spending. I think it’s interesting that a best seller like David Morrell, one of my favorites, recently Tweeted that the Kindle version of his latest thriller was marked down to $1.99. That’s down in the range of most indie ebooks. And, yes, I bought it at that price. You bet.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
mystery, suspense, thriller, adventure
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print