Today I’m super-thrilled to have Matt Hilton speaking to me on the blog today. We met earlier this week at South Shields’ library on World Book Night and he’s kindly supporting the I Am Woman campaign. Now he tells us about his writing life. Enjoy.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I’ve got a pretty wild imagination, I guess. I’m not the type of author who plots deeply or takes notes or such before I launch into writing a book. I tend to see a scene, a bit like watching a movie inside my head, and I write down what I see., Often this will take me off on tangents I never expect, and keeps the writing fresh and exciting for me. I think if I were to plot a book out I’d feel stifled by it and never make headway. By ‘imagining’ a scene, I get to play all the time so it’s always good fun.
What do you like most about writing? What do you dislike (if anything)?
I love the process of putting words on paper (actually, I write directly onto a computer screen) and finding that at the end of many hours I’ve actually got an entire story. The real joy is when a reader then sits down and enjoys the finished product. It’s why I write – probably why most authors write. We want readership! The real satisfaction is knowing that all your hard work has been appreciated, and also that you get to touch someone with your words in a way you’d never get to do in real life. I’ve had letters from readers telling me that I’ve got them reading again, and it’s a terrific feeling when you hear that. Or I’ve inspired someone to get down and write the story they’ve also wanted to. Obviously, what I don’t like is the way in which people with an axe to grind attack you personally, because they didn’t like your book. Fair enough, my style of writing won’t suit everyone, but there’s no need for the personal insults that some ‘reviewers’ direct my way. Even if they didn’t like the book, they don’t know me and I am hurt when the slurs are personal or infantile, or quite obviously because the reviewer has another agenda to serve.
What inspires you to write?
I can’t ‘not’ write. It’s not so much an inspiration as it is a need, a compulsion. I don’t feel as if I’ve achieved anything if I don’t get words down on paper (or screen), as if there’s something missing from my day, and often find myself frustrated if I’m separated from my work for more than a couple of days at a time.
Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?
Yes, I read as often as I can, and it’s a similar compulsion to my writing. I love words, plain and simple. If I haven’t got a book to hand I’ll read the ingredients on a tube of toothpaste. Of course, my writing takes precedence these days, so I don’t get the opportunity to read as much as I like but try to get through a book or two a week. I tend to read crime, thriller, action or horror stories. The book I’m reading at present is a terrific follow-up to Stuart Neville’s ‘The Twelve’ (AKA The Ghosts of Belfast), called ‘Collusion’, and one I’d heartily recommend – but read The Twelve first.
Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?
I’ve a few that come to mind. Robert E Howard (Conan the Cimmerian etc), Don Pendleton (Mack Bolan: The Executioner), George G Gillman (Edge western series), David Morell (First Blood/Rambo), and more recently admire John Connolly (Charlie Parker), Robert Crais (Elvis Cole/Joe Pike) and Jack (J.A) Kerley (Carson Ryder), but there are many others. I’m also constantly inspired by the current crop of writers whom I’m delighted to include as friends, like established authors Stephen Leather and Adrian Magson, and those on the rise like Col Bury, Lee Hughes, Lily Childs, Paul D Brazill and many more. Some of these names aren’t well-known yet, but they will be.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I’d probably still be a cop. I gave up a career with Cumbria Constabulary to write full-time. But I was in the fortunate position where I could do so. Without the contracts to write my Joe Hunter thriller series, I would still be walking a beat somewhere, dreaming of what I’d write when I got home.
What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?
As far as my writing goes, my strength is that I am prolific (or crazy), my weakness is that I’m easily distracted, and sometimes take on too much at any one time. It’s not unusual for me to be working on two or three different projects at any given time.
What are you working on at the moment?
This will illustrate what I just mentioned: I’m working on book 10 in my Joe Hunter series, plus I’m working on a new action thriller series with a character called James Rembrandt (about which I can’t say much at the minute), I’m writing a couple of short Joe Hunter stories for the USA ebook market, doing line edits on Joe Hunter book 9, page proofing Joe Hunter book 8, and also collecting and editing a short story anthology to be released to eBook, called Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 1. Told you I was prolific (or crazy).
Where can we find you online?
I’ve a presence in lots of places online, but the main ones are my website http://www.matthiltonbooks.com, my blog http://matthiltonbooks.blogspot.com, on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MattHiltonAuthor and at Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/MHiltonauthor. But I also pop up all over the place and like to support other bloggers and writers. I’m also the founder of Thrillers, Killers ‘N’ Chillers webzine, where I am the thriller editor. It’s a terrific resource for new or aspiring writers and can be found here: http://thrillskillsnchills.blogspot.com
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes. never give up. Try to write something each day, and don’t be afraid of rejection. Rejection is all part of being a successful writer, as it helps teach you where you’ve been going wrong. I was writing for thirty years, and had completed seven novels and countless short stories and articles before I was picked up by an agent and publishing house. Take me as an inspiration if you will: I’d no formal training, no education beyond secondary school, hadn’t any contacts, lived out in the sticks of north Cumbria as far away from the publishing centres you can think of, wasn’t a minor celebrity, didn’t even know another writer, but through perseverance managed to hook myself some major publishing deals both in the UK and USA. If I could do it, then anyone with a will can do so as well.
What’s been your proudest moment?
If we’re talking about my writing life there are two stand outs. The first was when I was finally picked up for publication, it was the culmination of a dream. The second was when I was recently asked to open the newly refurbished library in Carlisle where I grew up. It was an incredible honour, and I did so alongside Hunter Davies, who originally opened the library twenty-five years earlier. It’s funny, but I recall sneaking into the original Carlisle library as a little kid, thinking that you had to pay in. I felt like a criminal sneaking around the musty old bookshelves, in awe at the power of the written word. Then to go back as an ex cop almost forty years later, and one of those who now helps fill those shelves with the written word, it was surreal and incredibly moving to me at the same time.
What’s the title of your latest book?
It’s called ‘No Going Back’ and is the seventh in my Joe Hunter thriller series. In this one, Joe Hunter – a problem solver – goes in search of some missing women in Arizona and comes up against a family as brutal as the desert badlands in which they live.
Download ‘No Going Back’ here: http://amzn.to/I22ALw
Order your copy of ‘No Going Back’ here: http://amzn.to/JGKO2F