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!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...
  • Book Jacket: This Blessed Earth
    This Blessed Earth
    by Ted Genoways
    For the Hammonds, a farming family in Nebraska, the 2014 harvest season started with a perfect storm...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

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.