AUTHOR INTERVIEW – TIM HILL (aka JOE THE CRAB) – (Children’s Lit)


TIM HILL  

Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living—if you’re not a fulltime writer, what hobbies you have. That sort of thing!

Thanks for having me Linda. “It’s wonderful to be here, it’s certainly a thrill.” That right there says something about me in that I’m a huge Beatles fan. More on that in a bit.

I’ve been an IT recruiter for a long, long time, but now I’d like to focus on marketing as I’m burned out on recruiting. I’m trying to find my way into the marketing world as I’ve done 100% of my own marketing with the “Joe the Crab” book.

I’m a Midwesterner born and raised in St. Louis—yes, Cardinals! Yet I love Chicago and visiting pretty much anywhere in Florida. I don’t write as much as I’d like, because I spend so much time marketing.

We’ve talked about that before. I’m from St. Louis, too! (Yay, Cardinals) What do you do for fun?

In addition to the “Liverpool Lads” I enjoy all kinds of music, mainly rock, love history and love movies too. I’m an avid “Burn Notice” and “White Collar” fan.

Also, I’m a brick ‘n’ mortar guy so I still enjoy actually going to the cinema and going into a real bookstore. I can’t help it with bookstores as I usually come out with something—history related more times than not.

Oh, I do SO understand the brick ‘n’ mortar bookstore passion. And history, too! Tell us more!

I’m not really into animals—except for a little blue crab named Joe! Being in theMidwestI love Fall with the changes in colors and temperature, plus I enjoy the MLB playoffs through October no matter who’s playing. I’m a baseball fan for sure.

What’s your favorite singer, song, type of music?

Beatles as you may have guessed, and, if I had to tab a particular song, it would probably be “All My Loving”. Very into their music, have read books on them, have scoured their Anthology, own their movies and on and on. I play a little guitar (not a tiny one, I mean I play some when I can) and it’s usually Beatles music. Big McCartney fan. Rock ‘n’ Roll rules!

You mentioned going to the cinema. What’s your favorite movie?

That’s tough. I’m into both historical and historical fiction films. But I love “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Forrest Gump”, the Bourne trilogy, all the Star Wars movies, and the Marvel films. Just saw “The Iron Lady” and loved it. I’d probably say “Star Wars, Episode IV” if I had to pick just one.

Who’s your favorite actress/actor? With a list of favs like that, it’s going to be tough, isn’t it?

I don’t really have one. Maybe that’s surprising. It seems anyone I sort of follow makes a run of stinkers or something inappropriate. I respect Tom Hanks and enjoy more films of his than not. For me there’s no better actress than Meryl Streep. She’s so good she could probably play me!

Actually, I think she’s working on a movie about a little blue crab next. She could probably carry that off, too! Now that we know you a little better as a person, let’s get into your writing! What kind of books do you write?

Children’s books for 2-7 year old’s, focused more on the 4-6 range.I just came out with my first-ever book called “Joe the Crab Takes a Walk”. It’s the first in a 3-book series called the “Self-Esteem Series” for kids. It deals with being yourself and embracing differences in each other and a bit about bullying, too.

I bought it for my new great-grandson. It’s an adorable children’s book with a great message!

I’ve written a couple of historical fiction books but they’re unpublished. This Joe the Crab book was the first published offering. I’m working on the 2nd book in the series now targeting its release for end of March, latest. It’ll focus almost solely on bullying.

When did you start writing and why?

Loving history, writing historical fiction was my first love, and I began writing in the early 2000s. Forsyth and Luldum were my initial inspirations but I had the children’s book thought for many years.

Are you an avid reader & when you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?

I am. I always get a bunch of books every Christmas for the coming year so, in addition to the Bible, I’m always reading something all year long. History (mostly American-based) and spy novels are my favorites.

We’ll have to talk about a couple of mine you might enjoy! (Laughing here!)  Who is your favorite author & why?

It’s got to be Candace Millard. I’m reading “River of Doubt” about Teddy Roosevelt’s post-presidency trip to South America, and before that I read “Destiny of the Republic” about the Garfield assassination and all that surrounded what at that time was the biggest news event since  Lincoln was shot. Her research and impressive skill of bringing long ago events to life is enthralling. It’s hard for me to put her books down.

What is it that makes your writing different from all the others in your genre?

I’m not sure how different I am, but my idea is to teach kids while entertaining them. I want to teach them about deep ideas at their very beginnings without going on and on—just tap their emotions a little. To me they need to learn some important and hard lessons in a kind way. I wish them to understand how much easier life will go for them if they’re not selfish, jealous or hateful—even if they don’t agree with others or what they’re about.

Now that we know more about what you write, now tell a little about how you write.

Even for these short books it takes several weeks. Add in the illustration time from Jennifer Stolzer and it turns into a few months because we have to collaborate and get it right. 

I have a small office setup in my basement where there’s paneling (yes paneling) and no distractions; a real writer’s place. I have a core idea I want to focus on and sort of work it out in my head, then I start tapping it out. I see a little film in my head and it helps me create as I go along. I don’t do outlines for these books.

I’ve used a couple of different editors. Not to get too many cooks in the kitchen but a couple of different perspectives outside of me helps a great deal. Humbling but effective.

Where did the character of the handsome little blue crab named Joe come from?

A lot of these Joe the Crab stories came from me improvising bedtime stories for my kids. I’ve mixed that with what they (and what I read and hear about) have experienced as they go through their school years. Bullying and diversity are HUGE subjects now

What’s the best/worst experience you’ve ever had as a writer?

Best:  Publishing that first book.

Worst: Being told to keep re-writing after several re-writes.

I feel your pain! What is the best/worst advice you have ever gotten about writing?

Best: Shorten and economize—don’t go on and on. Get to the point.

Worst: Just write in your own style no matter what. That’s fine it’s just that one’s style has to be developed.

What advice would you give a new author?

Take your time and get it right.

If you hadn’t become an author, how else might you be exercising your right brain now? 

Probably trying to learn how to properly play the guitar and be as good as I can be at it.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to share?

I’m also a speaker/presenter and enjoy talking before any size group or age range on a number of subjects—including becoming an author. I’m a professionally trained voiceover artist too.

I think it would be interesting to hear how Joe sounds in your mind!

Where on-line can people find more information about you and your books?

At http://www.joethecrab.com/. You can also find me (and Joe) on Facebook and my two Twitter accounts: @thjoethecrab and @thrill2b

Where are your books available in print and/or digital?

Only in print right now. It’s available at Puddin’head Bookstore in Webster Groves, MO, so far. Hope to do an ebook of ‘Joe’ later this year!

The book can be ordered direct from me via the website. I’ll ship it anywhere.

Thank you for your time, Tim. I really enjoyed getting to know you better.

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