Stuart Hill Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Stuart Hill

Stuart Hill

An interview with Stuart Hill

A few nuggets of information about Stuart Hill, author of The Cry of The Icemark, which won The Ottakar's Children's Book Prize for 2005 - one of the UK's most prestigious children's book awards.

Name:
Stuart Hill

Born:
1958

Lives:
Leicester, England

Where did you grow up?
Leicester.

What were you like at school?
Smaller.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Taller.

What did you do after you left school?
I went to work as a car trimmer in a mouse-infested asbestos hut with no sanitation (our toilet was a window in a secluded corner – I'm not kidding). When it rained water flooded in and if you didn't keep the lid on your lunch box the mice had your sandwiches! After six years of this I finally came to my senses and I went to college and eventually university. Unfortunately insanity set in again and I was daft enough to become a teacher. At the time of writing I'm now in recovery and no longer work in schools.

Why did you begin writing/illustrating?
I couldn't read or write until I was seven and I can still remember that almost magical feeling when those strange angular symbols actually began to have a meaning. I'm not exaggerating, I remember that the letters literally suddenly started to make sense, almost as though a switch and been thrown in my brain and the light of understanding flooded in! After that I couldn't stop playing with words and their sounds and meaning. From little rhymes and word-plays I graduated to writing my first stories.

How would you describe your books?
Made of paper and kind of rectangular. (sorry!)
Adventure stories with characters that are usually baddies (i.e. werewolves, vampires etc.) in the goody roles! Add to that a sprinkling of teenagers with snotty attitudes and some hugely powerful talking animals – that would make great pets – and there you have it. Stuart's formula for (hopefully) enjoyable books!

Where do your ideas come from?
Mail order. (Sorry again!)
The brain's an odd thing, over the years it absorbs all sorts and types of influences (in my case books by Rider Haggard, Enid Blyton, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susie Cooper et al) and distils them into a spirit of its own making. Basically what I'm saying is that – possibly – every writer's ideas are the result of everything they've ever read, done, seen, experienced.

What is your ideal place and time for writing/illustrating?
My ideal time and place would be an oak-panelled study with hours of uninterrupted leisure in which to enjoy the process of writing. The reality is a little different i.e. a scruffy bedroom with a tired old laptop on which I desperately bang out a few paragraphs whenever I get the chance in a frantic day. Oh yes, and Mr B (my cat) likes to stuff his tail up my nose just when I'm coming to a difficult bit.

Which book would you most like to have written?
King Solomon's Mines by Rider Haggard.

What is your favourite film?
The Haunting the original black-and-white version made in 1964. Very creepy!

What is your favourite music?
Anything that isn't country and western or jazz. Particularly jazz!!

What is the funniest joke you know?
I prefer plain daft ones:

Knock knock
Who's there?
Amos
Amos who?
A mosquito.

Knock knock
Who's there?
Anna
Anna who?
An' another mosquito.

What is your most precious memory?
Leaving school for the last time; once as a pupil, and then as a teacher.

What are you most proud of?
Getting my books accepted by Chicken House (honest!). And apart from that, going back to school/college after six years in a car factory and getting the qualifications I should have got when I was younger. (Yes I know this contradicts the previous answer!)

What is your advice for aspiring authors/illustrators?
Keep going and be prepared for a long apprenticeship. It can take years to learn your craft, and probably should.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes
by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Listen to the Marriage
    by John Jay Osborn

    The story of a couple in trouble and an exploration of the obstacles we put in our own way.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.