Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Shari: I understand you write mysteries for adult readers. How long have you been writing? When did you start writing for children and why the change?

Hill: Why the change is a really good question. My first published novel, Capitol Offense, is set in the insider’s world of the Texas Legislature where I served as a State Representative. My granddaughter, Siena, an avid reader wanted to read Capitol Offense, but her mom judged the book “too true to the legislature” for a nine-year-old to read. So Siena said I should write something she could read She and I framed characters around a conflict she saw in her 4th grade class and Lucky Penny was born. Siena helped with the book so is my co-author. I started writing very late in life. After my career as a chemical engineer, industry executive and consultant I penned my first book (yet unpublished) at age 55. Now I can’t seem to get enough of writing.

Shari: Tell us about your children’s book, Lucky Penny. What is your book about? What age is it for? Who is your publisher?

Hill: Lucky Penny is a book about a neglected, but important part of our life together: friends and friendship. Penny Mason’s two best friends at school had a conflict the prior year, before they met Penny. Penny goes on a mission to get them past that so all three can be buddies. It involves a bike race and eventually a contest to design a new park. At several points Penny is about ready to give up, but keeps at it. The book can be read by third-graders up and my librarian says the lessons about friendship are for all ages – even us big kids.

Shari: Is your venture into children’s writing just a one shot deal? Do you plan to write more books for children? Are mysteries for adults your real writing passion? Which genre is most difficult for you to write?

Hill: My adult mysteries are populated by composites of very real politicians and have been labeled “..dangerously close to reality” by Texas insiders. Lucky Penny is my first work in children’s reading and I struggled at first because I wanted my characters be very real. My granddaughter, Siena, helped me build the characters and keep the dialog right for fourth graders. As with Capitol Offense, I thought Lucky Penny was a one shot deal. But my publisher will receive the finished manuscript of A Lone Star Special, the Capitol Offense sequel, in about a month. For Penny, the three characters are perfect to bring out another important part of the lives of children. I have some special insider perspective there too, so I am framing a sequel for Lucky Penny.

Shari: How are you promoting Lucky Penny? Do your tactics differ from your promotion of your other books?

Hill: I will soon appear in my third local paper presenting a copy of Lucky Penny to the library. I also feature Penny along with my other work in book signings. I sent out a Valentine’s Day promotion with a national press release. I promote the book as one to be read to first graders, given to third graders up and made a ‘must read’ for young teens forming important friendships for their days.

Shari: Where can we buy your book? Would you like to give us your web address?

Hill: The book is in national distribution but the best place to get is at my wonderful publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing. It is available in print and all the popular electronic media at: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/lucky-penny.htm

Shari: What advice would you give to a beginning children’s writer?

Hill: As with any genre; read, read and read as much as you can in the children’s books for the age you write. Lucky Penny is a “tweener” book for those ready to move up from picture books but not quite ready for full novels. We writers need to apply our creativity to develop new, interesting book forms to avoid a generation of people growing up having only electronic screens for their intellectual development.

Shari: In closing, what would we be surprised to learn about you?

Hill: I was just issued a US Patent on a process to produce fresh water from the ocean at about 10% of the cost of current methods – all with solar and wind energy. I expect to put in the first commercial unit for a water needy village in Ghana.

Shari: That is fascinating. Thank you, Hill, for sharing your writing and promoting tips with all of us.

(c) 2008 Sharon A. Soffe

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