At the end of August, favourite New Zealand author David Hill is releasing two new books. We asked him a bit more about Three Scoops (OneTree House) which features three very different stories, from three very different times.
Tell us a bit about the first story in Three Scoops, ‘Coming Home’, which is historical.
‘Coming Home’ is based on a story a friend told me of a young trooper and his horse in the South African War. I read quite a lot about the South African War, especially the sort of country where it happened. I enjoy writing stories that have different viewpoints in them, like ‘Coming Home’, which is told half by a young man and half by a young horse!
From history to fantasy! Where did the idea for the little green book-elf in ‘I Wish’ come from?
I honestly can’t remember how the idea for that started. It’s often like that with writing; you realise an idea is present in your mind, and you can’t remember how it got there! It all came from my imagination, though I did think about things that happened at schools where I was a teacher. I always enjoy writing anything which has jokes in it, so ‘I Wish’ was fun to write.
And finally science fiction, in ‘Strange Meeting’.
I wrote ‘Strang Meeting because I’m interested in astronomy and all those strange, sometimes terrifying objects skimming around in space.
How did you approach writing them all?
I approached the three stories the way I do with every bit of writing. First, I planned – on little bits of paper which I kept losing. I wrote a first draft in longhand, pen on paper with huge lots of crossing out. Then I revised and revised and revised. I reckon at least half my work on any story is revision / editing.
I seem to have an idea of the genre when I start. ‘I Wish’ was always going to be a funny (I hope) story; I knew Gene the Book Elf would be a weird little guy. I wanted ‘Coming Home’ to be true to history, and that it would show something about a young man’s experiences over 120 years ago. I wanted ‘Strange Meeting’ to be a sort of action story, with a mystery in it. The people don’t do much, but there’s much tension and fear in their minds. And I’m happy for the power that Mr Makereti seems to hold to stay unexplained.
Any advice for young writers?
Read – Read heaps. Every time you read, you’re picking up ideas and techniques that authors use. Don’t throw any of your writing away – it may not seem any good just now, but it can give you ideas for other stories later, or you can come back to it and improve it later. Go online and look for any competitions for young writers. And ENJOY!! Every time you write a story / poem / play, you’re making something that never existed before. That’s special.
With two new books to promote you’ll be busy enough! But do you have another idea bubbling away?
I’ve got an idea for a possible story about two kids trapped deep underground. I don’t know if it will work, and I won’t tell you any more, because I hate talking about my stories before they’re finished. I feel superstitious that talking about them in advance might somehow ruin them.
Three Scoops is now for sale from OneTree House ($27) and your local bookshop.