Monday, March 10, 2014

Author Interview: Terry R. Hill

Please welcome Terry R. Hill to SPE! We asked him some questions to get to know about his own publishing journey.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a Texas native, was trained with two degrees in aerospace engineering. I have worked for NASA since 1997 with a very satisfying career as an engineer and project manager spanning programs from the international space station's navigation software, to next generation space suit design, to exploration mission planning, to mitigating the health effects of space on astronauts. While supporting the manned space program has been a lifetime passion, writing of different worlds, alternate
futures and the human condition has filled my spare time.

Always looking to maximize what life has to offer, I have found myself singing on stage, helping to house the less fortunate, skydiving, hammering away at the Berlin Wall, wearing space suits, ice swimming in Finland in the dead of winter, bathing in the hot springs of Japan, and forging into the unknown as a parent. Life is too short to let opportunities pass us by as we only get one chance to ride. But mostly, it's all about the people in our everyday as we experience this thing we call Life.

What led you to your decision to indie publish?

Well like many major decisions in life, all the right things had to fall into place. I won’t go into those in detail, but let’s say that one day last year I accepted the fact that I probably had fewer days ahead of me than behind and that I had best get to writing if I was to get serious about it. I had always enjoyed writing and had received support from friends and co-workers over the years, but never took the time to indulge myself with writing until one day I realized I needed to add more Awesome to my daily life, and writing was my preferred way.

What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned from when Indie publishing?

I would say that my biggest mistake so far was rushing into the first print run. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it out the door and into people’s hands. What I discovered was that there were a dozen or so typos that had escaped my attention and now I had a hundred copies of my first publication with some embarrassing typos. J I had a very good editor, but somewhere between his editing and my acceptance of them, some snuck in.

The moral to the story, unless your family is going hungry waiting for you to sell some books, then take the time to have a person or two proof the copy before releasing it and ordering multiples.

What is the worst piece of advice you received when you started writing?

You know, that’s a hard question. I can’t say that I’ve really gotten any really bad advice just yet. I had a few people suggest that I go with a vanity publishing company. And while one friend seems to be doing well with them, I don’t know if he’s made back the out-of-pocket money he had to front to get started with them.

What is the best advice you received?

“If you don’t know what to do, ask a few Indy authors – they’re, in general, a very helpful crowd.”

I whole-sale agree with that statement. I have reached out to many different people and gotten excellent and enthusiastic advice and developed a few good friendships along the way.

What is your advice to new authors trying to break into the self-publishing market?

A large part of it is what you make of it. You will get out of it what you put into it. You are now your own sales team – it’s not just about writing any more.
A large part of it is luck.
A significant part of it is what is selling at the time, vs what you’re writing.
If this is your only income, get used to eating Ramen noodles for a while. J
Research writing in the Deep Point of View.
Use 5+ beta readers.
Put your money in two places: Hiring a good cover artist, Hiring a good editor. Friends and Family are not allowed for either!!!!! If your cover assaults the eye, no one will pick it up. If your book is full of grammar, punctuation errors or typos, then the reader may not finish your book and worse yet, leave a nasty review.

What has been your favorite story to write?

Well, I suspect like many authors, I’m a little partial to the first one I wrote. However, each book is different and has unique things that you love and hate about them.

My first book…well, it was my first book. It was my baby. It was my first experience of making something from nothing and calling it my own AND have had people say that they really enjoyed it. It was what encouraged me to continue on this journey and validated that I might just have something to share with the world, and maybe making it a better place along the way.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters you write? 

Oh of course! But not just one. I can’t speak for all authors, but each character carries a little bit of me in them. We as people are not just one person, one character all the time. We have good days and bad days. Some days we are saints on Earth and others we deserve to be locked up for a very long time. Some days I am deserving of the love of my wife and children and some days they are clearly getting the raw end of the deal.

So by tapping into those different facets of my personality, it allows each one to become its very one character, and allows the author to explore what they would be like if they were to think or behave like this all the time.

What is your most recent release about?

Wow, that’s hard to say in ten pages or less. J When I write, I like to give the reader a good story that is entertaining, has action, adventure, death, life, a little romance and some philosophy to ice the top.

However, in general In the Days of Humans: Third Exodus is about a world after the computer singularity happens, the struggle between Man and Machine took place and the world was deviated. Not a new story, but that was my chapter 1. The bulk of the book is what happened after the struggle where humans had to learn how to survive, and of the ones that were largely spared, they would eventually have to come to terms with the fact that they would soon run out of resources.

Faced with this reality the remaining governments decided to go for broke and develop a space program to venture out into the solar system to look for resources and possible a new home. However – yes, there’s always a however – while they are venturing into the blackness they run into an ancient intelligence, that was almost as old as the solar system, which had been placed there to watch and wait for space-faring life to evolve.

Corruption and politics prevail back on Earth, and faced with a new, unforeseen forces that threaten human survival once again, the lead character must decide where his loyalties lie – with a corrupt government back home, or with an alien intelligence that might have some unknown agenda – in some hope of saving humankind.

Where did you draw your inspiration for this book?

Wow, hard question. I had the idea come to me on a bad day when I was frustrated with work (I work at NASA) and I was just pondering “What if everything that NASA is doing is for naught. What if we never achieve the goal of figuring out how to live permanently in space or on another planet? What if it ends up being some group or country that we never expect?” That was the catalyst that got my imagination working and where ultimately I got the idea for the book. After that most of my ideas would come while driving to and from work listening to classical music.

I know, not terribly exciting, but that’s how it all happened.

What has been your most successful thing you've done to promote your book?

So far I would have to say it would have to be using Facebook and personal connections to spread the word. While I have not achieved nation-wide success just yet, from what I have seen, one must be in the right spot at the right time to get the visibility that stirs mass interest. Just waiting for the lightening to strike for me.

Who is your literary idol?

Oh my, I’m not sure I could tell you. There are so many out there that are masters at what they did/do. Each of them brings forth something unique and different to the reader and their experience in the different stories they tell. To name a few would surely do a disservice to those I don’t. Wells, Heinlein, Clark, Butler, Rothenberg, Anthony, Rand, Sagan, Hawking to name just some of the giants of recent history. This list doesn’t do anything for the not as famous, but equally talented authors or even many of the up and coming ones of today that I for time to time get the chance to read, meet and get to know.

Do you participate in writing events like NaNo?

No I haven’t. Not that I’m not interested, but between a full-time job, a young family and my own writing, I just have no way of squeezing in something else like this with time pressures of its own.

Tell us where our readers can follow you at. Twitter? Facebook? Google+?
Twitter: N/A

·      Also available on Apple iBooks – just search for In the Days of Humans

Will you be attending any conventions or book signings in 2014? If so, where can we see you at?

I plan on having a few book signings in the Houston area, but none with any firm dates yet.

1 comment:

  1. A great author! Terry Hill's book is one that truly captivates the reader, drawing the reader in from page one, and does not let go until the last page.