An Interview with
Kate Hill

Have you always wanted to write? And did you ever consider different genres, like science fiction or murder mysteries?

I have always wanted to write, and I have written some science fiction, though mostly for myself. My favorite genres have always been horror, fantasy, and historical, so I feel more inspired to write those kinds of stories.

Do you recall your first sale? How did you find out you were going to be published?

I remember my first sale very clearly. It was a vampire erotica story, and I was notified by mail that it was going to be published in an anthology.

How do you feel about eBooks and ePublishing? Is it the wave of the future or a brief flirtation with technology?

I was an ebook reader before I was an ebook author, and in general I prefer reading ebooks. I think ebooks have a place in the future, but doubt they'll ever push print books into the background. I hope the future brings a nice blend of both print and electronic reading material.

How do you like to write? Are you disciplined and in front of the computer for the same number of hours each day, or is it a more haphazard process for you?

I write seven days a week ranging from three to six hours after work on weekdays and more on weekends. Altogether my writing time totals 35 - 40 hours a week. Personally, I think discipline is very important to writing.

How much license do you allow your characters? Do they get away from you at all or do you have them under control all the time?

My characters are always out of control! If my characters don't take on a life of their own and tell me how they feel or how they react, then I'm bored and won't finish the story. I do use an outline when I write and know exactly how the story is going to end, but how the characters react in certain scenes is up to them. I don't always like how they react, but if I write their emotions and actions exactly how I want, then I don't feel I'm being true to the characters.

How challenging is it to produce trilogies in different genres at almost the same time? (We note that there are two more “Bride” novels on the way along with another vampire story, not to mention the “Knights of the Ruby Order” series.) How do you keep them straight?

All the characters are very unique to me, and I really don't have a problem keeping the stories straight. Sometimes I think it would be much harder not to write the sequels because when certain characters nag me for their own book, the only way to relax is to write the story.

Once you start writing a book in a particular genre, how do you move from a single title to a trilogy - do you know as the first book unfolds that there will be more to come?

Usually I know sometime during the first draft of the first book that there will be sequels. One of the secondary characters, or sometimes the villain, stands out enough for me to want to continue his or her story.

Were you concerned about criticism from vampire purists when you changed the rules for your vampires? (Allowing food, some daylight activity, etc.)

Honestly, I wasn't thinking about the purists when I started writing about non-traditional vampires. I was thinking more about readers like me who were getting a little bored with tradition. Not that I don't appreciate conventional vampire stories and movies, I just wanted to explore something different. When I write in general I don't think about what people might not like. The truth is, you can't please everyone. If someone picks up my book and enjoys it, then I feel wonderful that I've entertained that person. That's more important to me than trying to write to please everyone, because I honestly don't think it can be done.

Your heroes seem to be men on a quest (Joss in “The Darkness Therein”, Adam in “The Immaculate” and Luke in “Love on the Wild Side”) - certainly ones who are dedicated to a cause, often to the initial exclusion of emotional involvement. What appeals to you about this type of man?

There's something about powerful, dedicated men that appeals to me like nothing else. I guess I like determined people. My father was a marine, so growing up I learned to appreciate the "warrior" type and have incorporated them into my stories.

Your heroines are confident, intelligent women, yet they are seldom aware of their own strengths and abilities until they are put to the test. Why?

In the first two vampire books and in The Chieftain's Bride, the heroines were basically average women who had never faced such extreme circumstances. They weren't sure themselves how they would react, even though I think they made it through pretty well! In my upcoming book The Mad Knight's Bride and in books 1 and 3 of the Knights of the Ruby Order series, the heroines are a little different. They're warriors who are very sure of their abilities and not afraid to let the heroes know!

How much of your personality might we expect to find in your heroines?

There are some parts of my heroines that I can identify with. I often write about heroines who are martial artists. I spent several years studying martial arts with instructors and made practice part of my lifestyle. I'm absolutely not a Cynthia Rothrock, but I like writing about heroines who are fighters in one way or another.

As a writer of some very dark fantasies, do you ever find yourself explaining your choice of genre? (Are friends and family okay with your vampire creations?)

My interest in vampires was inspired by my mother. As far back as I can remember we've watched vampire movies together. The first vampire books I ever read, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Hotel Transylvania and Bram Stoker's Dracula, were from her collection. My family and friends are very accepting of me and my tastes. I have a particular friend who also enjoys unusual fiction, and we've often shared favorite books. Though we don't see each other often, she's always been very supportive of my writing.

The world you create for your vampire stories is meticulously detailed and flawlessly precise and it is clearly not a snap-on/snap-off process. Is it hard to get up and walk away from it after immersing yourself in writing about it? How long does it take for you to detach from the horrors of the First Father and sit at the dinner table for example?

To be completely honest, I don't ever detach from my books. They're the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of at night. Of course there are times when I have to push them to the back of the brain, when I'm concentrating on my day job, for instance, but other than that, they're always with me.

Going from a vampire world to the 11th century is a considerable leap in time and setting. How do you research a time period? Any trustworthy sources you use again and again?

Researching Viking history is a hobby for me, so I read as many books about the subject as I can get my hands on. Most of the historical fiction I've written is set from 900 - 1100. I have a growing collection of books about the Viking age and the Middle Ages. Two of my favorites are The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings and Encyclopedia of the Viking Age. I also have several historical clothing books.

In “The Chieftain’s Bride”, Marion seemed to have some very contemporary characteristics (her determination to wield weaponry, wear trousers, etc.). Is there anyone in particular she is based upon?

That's just my preference for writing about fighting females again!

In that same book, Wyborn was a marvelously complex man with a great deal of subtle intelligence - especially in his handling of Marion. I fell for this Viking right off the bat! You managed to keep the sensual kettle on the boil for these two even after their initial conflict was resolved. Is that difficult, and do you plot out the progress of the romance, or allow it some flexibility as the chapters get written?

During scenes I usually just let the characters' feelings flow and think "how would he/she really act and feel?"

Your website announces that there are two more books in the “Bride” series - will they feature characters already introduced, or new people?

The second book, The Mad Knight's Bride, is about Sir William, the villain in The Chieftain's Bride. I got very attached to his character and needed to explore him more fully. The third book in the series, The Horseman's Bride, is about Sonja, Wyborn's sister, and Derek, the warrior she falls in love with in the first book. The last book is definitely a romance, but also an adventure for all three couples from the whole series.

Can you give your fans a hint about the “Knights of the Ruby Order”? Will it be in the same time period as the “Bride” series?

Knights of the Ruby order is a fantasy series set in an entirely different world. It focuses on a group of healer/warriors who dedicate their lives to lending aid wherever it's needed. Each story takes place in a different part of the world and focuses on the romance of a particular Knight.

I haven’t really mentioned your poetry and short fiction pieces other than “Love on the Wild Side”. Do you have a format preference? Full-length novels, short stories, poetry? All three?

I like writing all three. Each one has its own challenges and rewards, so I find it very difficult to pick just one.

Do you have a particular place in your home that is devoted to your writing?

I always write in my bedroom. That might explain my insomnia.

How about your reading preferences - what do you read just for fun? Do you have one favorite book you re-read a lot?

I love reading vampire stories and historical non-fiction about the Vikings and the Middle Ages. I also enjoy reading mythology, particularly Norse Mythology. Some of my favorite books that I've gone through several times are Bloodwind by Charlotte Boyett-Compo, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, In the Eyes of Mr. Fury by Philip Ridley, and The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. I also love to read books of haiku and Pablo Neruda's poetry, in particular The Captain's Verses.

Who do you consider as having influenced your work (if anyone)?

Anyone who's completed a book inspires me to keep writing and finishing my own.

What other things do you like to do when you’re not creating fantastic tales?

When I'm not writing, I run my own micro-press, Anxiety Publications, that publishes zines and chapbooks. Very recently, within the past month, I've joined the staff at RFI West as a managing editor, so I'm very much looking forward to working with other writers on their novels.

Any favorite CD’s on your music shelf right now?

Some of my favorites are David Arkenstone, Troika, Sarah Brightman, Loreena McKennitt, and Michael Ball.

What’s on top of your lifetime “to-do” list? (Visit Antarctica, ride the Orient Express, that sort of thing.)

Write, write, write!

I love to ask two great questions from the Bernard Pivot questionnaire: What profession, other than your own, would you most like to attempt?

Though there are many professions I admire, I'm very happy with what I'm doing right now. If there was something I'd rather do, I'd give it a shot.

What profession would you definitely not want to try?

Probably a children's teacher. I think it's a terrific job, but I wouldn't have the patience.

And lastly, where do you want to be ten years from now?

I hope to still be writing, healthy, and happy.

Thanks so much, Kate, for taking time away from your busy schedule to answer our questions. We hope this personal glimpse into the life of a writer of fascinating tales will encourage those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading your books to add them to their must-read list!

Submitted by Celia, March 2002

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