On Creativity with Edwin Hill

Edwin Hill’s second novel, The Missing Ones, releases today. You can find it at Highbridge Audio as well as in print and ebook from Kensington Books. I loved his unique crime solving heroine Hester Thursby in the first book, Little Comfort so I was so happy to find that she returns in this novel where most of the action takes place on a (kind of creepy) small island in Maine where, as the publisher says, “as she untangles the secrets at the center of the small community, she finds grudges and loyalties that run deep, poised to converge with a force that will once again shake her convictions about the very nature of right and wrong….”

I have a copy of The Missing Ones to give away, but first, let’s hear about Edwin’s creative process.

KW: Do you have daily habits that support your creative work?

EH: I go through a whole process in the morning that prepares me to get working. From the outside, it may not seem like it contributes to work, but it helps me get in the right place. I usually go to the gym when I get up, and either jog, swim, or bike. I don’t listen to music or podcasts at that time because I want to mull over what I created the day before, and what I might create later in the day. When I get home, I take my dog, Edith Ann, for a walk. Same thing, no radio, no music, no podcasts.

KW: I do the same thing when I walk my dogs. Walking without any aural distractions helps me bring my mind into the present.

EH: Once I finish with Edith Ann’s walk, I do listen to the radio for a while because by then my partner Michael is usually up as well. Once Michael leaves for work, any media that has been turned on goes off. I head up to my office and get started for the day with coffee in hand. I usually work on two chapters at once, one that I’m revising and refining, and one that I’m drafting. Revising helps remind me that I’m a good writer before I start writing really bad prose in draft form!

KW: How do you protect your work time/space from distractions?

EH: I bet I’m not the only person who thinks he’s getting stupider by the second. For me, most of this feeling stems from the constant distraction we face as active members of society these days. There’s e-mail and social media, not to mention mindless web surfing and good old-fashioned TV.

There is a positive side to this, of course. As an author, I have so many more avenues open to me to promote my work than I would have had twenty or even ten years ago. This also means that it’s on me to take advantage of these promotion opportunities, which can take valuable time and emotional energy.

So, I try to set as many limits as possible to allow myself the mental space to get work done. When I start writing in the morning, I do two important things: I leave my phone downstairs where it’s harder to check, and I turn off the wi-fi on my computer. It’s not that hard to turn wi-fi back on, but at least I have to actively engage in turning it on, and nine times out of ten, I stop myself from doing it.

I do feel that this problem is only going to get worse in the coming years. I, for one, will be trying my hardest to keep technology at bay!

KW: How do you counter the solitary nature of your work?

EH: I recently left my day job to pursue writing full time, and the solitary nature of writing has been new to me, so far. I was very much used to a day filled with meetings and phone calls with close colleagues, and I do miss that part of the day.

Having Edith Ann at home helps. I take her for walks throughout the day, which helps keep me from simply sitting at my computer without moving.

Edith Ann, Edwin’s yellow lab

I’ve been mindful to schedule time with friends outside of the house at least once during the week, too. I realize as I type this that I missed this week, and I am definitely feeling it. Note to self: make plans!

KW: What’s your earliest reading memory?

EH: Reading is very important to both of my parents, and one of my earliest memories is of having my father read stories to me as a child. Like any good crime writer, my favorite children’s stories were the most gruesome!

Their love of reading also helped introduce me to crime writing. When I was a kid, our family used to take month-long family camping trips across the country in a yellow Bronco. When I was about ten or eleven and was making the transition from reading children’s books to more adult fare, we stopped at a gas station (back when you could still buy books at gas stations) and my parents picked up a copy of The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie. I loved the book, everything about it, from the setting, to the language, to the intricate puzzle, and when I finished reading it, I knew what I wanted to do for my career. It only took me thirty-five years to figure out how to do it!

KW: Do you have words of wisdom for someone who has a desire to create but is held back by inner or outer judgment?

EH: I don’t think you can be a creative person without having some self-doubt. I certainly have plenty of it!

I would tell anyone struggling with this type of judgment to try to work every day toward an end goal, and to focus very much on the task at hand. If your task that day is to write a thousand words, only think about those thousand words. Don’t think about the larger project, which can be daunting and lead to that self-doubt. If you goal is to write a single sentence, write the sentence.

Most importantly, whatever your assigned task is for the day, celebrate when you accomplish your goal. When you find ways to celebrate small, daily successes, you not only find that you make a lot of progress toward overall goal, but you also feel pretty good about yourself!

KW: I love this advice, setting small goals and celebrating achieving them. Thanks for joining me, here Edwin!

Edwin Hill is the author of two novels: Little Comfort, which was nominated for an Agatha Award for best first novel, and The Missing Ones, both featuring amateur sleuth Hester Thursby. He lives in Roslindale, Massachusetts with his partner Michael and his favorite reviewer, their lab Edith Ann (check her out on Instagram @edithannlab) who likes his first drafts enough to eat them. 

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Cassandra is the randomly selected winner and the CDs will be mailed out to her as soon as I get her address.  Thanks to all for entering!  I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.

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4 thoughts on “On Creativity with Edwin Hill”

  1. Mary C says:

    The first mystery I read was either one of my sister’s Nancy Drew books or one of my brother’s Hardy Boys books.

  2. Jen Jones says:

    Can’t wait to check the. Next Hester Thursby mystery our! Great profile of one of my favorite (and smarter by the minute) people. Edwin Hill’s imagination and writing style puts you right in the middle of each scene.

  3. Susan B says:

    We lived in a small town without a bookstore, but a local gift shop had a rack of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries and those were the first mysteries I read. Then came Encyclopedia Brown and Agatha Christie…

  4. Kim says:

    The Hound of the Baskervilles! Thanks for the great interview and the chance to win.

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