Author Interview: Susan Hill

Susan Hill Photo

Susan Hill is an English writer who was born on the 5th February 1942 and is the author of numerous fiction and non-fiction works. Susan Hill’s works have encompassed acclaimed literary novels, ghost stories, children’s books, detective novels and memoirs. Her novels include The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror and I’m the King of the Castle for which she received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. The Woman in Black, her terrifying ghost story, is still running as a play in the West End and is now a successful film. Over the considerable years that she’s been active she’s written and published 56 books and been a reviewer for almost every newspaper and journal in the UK.

She has won the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham and John Llewelyn Rhys awards, as well as having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She was also appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to literature.

You can find some of the most popular books by this author on Amazon by clicking here, here and here.

So that’s my Introduction and here’s my Interview:

Do you have any rules for writing which you think have served you well?
Just get on with it…the more you write the better you’ll get. And READ.

What attracted you to writing crime fiction?
I had written 30 books without looking at my own times and I wanted to find a way of doing that which was quite separate from my other fiction. Crime was the way in.

Do you find it easier to write horror than crime?
I don’t write horror, I write ghost stories … no, about the same.

Can you think of a few tips of the top of your head for writing the perfect antagonist/protagonist?
No, because I’m a very instinctive writer.. it comes into my head and I write it down. And that’s it. But a negative would be not to go into endless detail of what they look like.. just one or two significant things. E.g. Serrailler has white ­blonde hair.

What problems did you encounter when you first started writing crime fiction?
None, but it does depend on plot a lot more than I had ever done so needs very careful back­checking.

Do your prefer your work to be faced paced or build towards a conclusion?
The latter every time. Important to vary the pace in a crime novel and a ghost story though.

How much research do you do in preparation for writing a novel?
Ghost stories and literary fiction, none. Crime – as much as I need for factual stuff – criminology, police procedure etc, The internet is a godsend and I have some advisors in various areas.

Can you give me some tips for crafting an intimidating criminal?
Don’t make him look like Hannibal Lecter – most serial killers are very ordinary looking.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
All the time… too many to mention, but Dickens, Graham Greene, John Buchan, Hardy, .. and then Carson McCullers, Edith Wharton among the Americans.. for crime, Lee Child and Dennis Lehane.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Can’t think of anything.. except I’ve always been slightly surprised at how it just comes and how ideas pour in.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read read read… read a wide range of authors, including those you think you wouldn’t like – surprise yourself. Reading writers who are better than you or I will ever be is the best way to learn.

And finally… ignore anyone who tells you about rules. (I`m talking about fiction only here..) THERE ARE NO RULES.


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