Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guest Post - Chris Hill

Please welcome Chris Hill as my guest today. He is the author of Song of the Sea God and I want to tell you, what an unusual, but fantastic book. Chris works in communications and has a background in newspaper journalism as a reporter, news editor and editor. He has won a number of short story prizes including the Bridport Prize. He lives across the pond in England and I’m glad we have become great cyber friends.
Thanks so much for agreeing to be a guest on my blog Chris, I look forward to getting to know you better.
First, tell me a little about yourself:
Thanks very much Lisa I’m very glad to be here having read and enjoyed your blog for quite a long time now. A fantastic aspect of social media for me has been that it allows me to get to know other writers and readers from around the world.
What can I tell you about me?
I’m married with two sons, I live in Gloucester in England. I was a newspaper journalist for a lot of years - a reporter first, then a news editor and an editor. Now I work in communications for a UK children’s charity called WellChild who, among other things, provide nurses for very sick children so they are able to live at home with their family rather than in hospital.
Alongside all this I’ve also always written fiction. I’ve written short stories for years and also three novels so far, Song of the Sea God is the first of those to find a publisher. It was published towards the end of last year by Skylight Press and I’m very proud of it. It’s brilliant to finally have a book in print after years of trying.
What was your inspiration for The Song of the Sea God?:
I suppose the idea for the novel kind of evolved over time. Song of the Sea God is a book about a man who comes to a small island off the coast of northern England and tries to convince the locals he is a god. In some ways I supposeits a book about the nature of religion - what it means to people, how it works.
I’m not particularly religious myself and I suppose I’d call myself an agnostic, but I just because I don’t claim to know the mysteries of the universe that doesn’t mean I think there are no mysteries and I think what inspired me to write the book was that I wanted to examine that ‘god-shaped hole’ people have in their lives.
Id like to think theres humour in the book, particularly in the narrative voice, but its quite a dark book as well, it delves into some quite murky places.
Im thrilled by the reaction its had so far from readers - people seem to think of it in different ways, its dark or comic or lyrical, and so on. Thats great because I was aiming to write something rich and layered and hard to pin down.
I loved your twist in the end and I loved the character you picked as your protagonist. I also enjoyed how your setting was more of a “A” typical rundown area and the people that live there. It brought back some memories for me living in Cleveland Ohio for a while. What made you pick this type of setting?:
Ah - the setting for the book is a real place. Walney Island where I grew up. It’s a tiny island off the coast of Cumbria in the North West of England and the geography of the island and, I suppose you could say, the general feel of the place comes from my memories of living there. What I would say though is that the story and the characters in the book are nothing to do with Walney - I set it there because it’s somewhere I know well and it made it easier to have somewhere solid to anchor the book. It’s good to have something ‘real’ as a rock to build on if your story involves flights of fancy, as mine does.
I do love a dark book, but what will your new book be about?:
The book I’m currently trying to find a publisher for is very different to Sea God. It’s called the Pick Up Artist and it’s about a young man’s inept attempts to find love. It’s lighter in tone, almost a romantic comedy I suppose. Time will tell whether I manage to find a home for it but I think it’s good to stretch yourself and try different things!
Your story probably would “hit home” for a lot of people. But what was your motivation for your main character and the mysterious stranger?:
From the start of writing the book, and even thinking about writing it, the central John Love character was always there - he’s the magician at the centre of the stage and it all revolves around him - his strange obsession. I wanted the book to have one foot in reality and one outside of it so by the end readers would ask - ‘Well, is he just a charlatan fooling people with smoke and mirrors, or is there something more going on?’ And, you know, it’s up to them to find their own answer.
It’s harder to say where Bes, the narrator, came from. Mute, dwarfish, an outcast. Yet intelligent, funny, very wrong sometimes but wise and warm and human. That’s what I wanted for Bes.
People have compared Song of the Sea God to all sorts of other books - I’m losing count! But one I like to compare it to is Shakespeare’s The Tempest. John Love is Prospero, controlling the island with hidden forces at his command. But Bes is Caliban - someone who is part of the island and has its best interests at heart.
What is the one thing you love to do, or the one place you love to go visit, or would love to go visit?:
Writing’s always been my big thing - I love music too though. I was in bands and so on when I was younger, playing guitar, singing a little, you know. I think as you get older though family becomes your main thing and, in many ways, it doesn't matter where I am so long as I’m with them. I tell you what was a little moment for me though - I still have friends and relatives in the North where I’m from and not long after the book was published I went up to see them and the local paper wanted to interview me about the book and photograph me on the beach at Walney Island holding a copy of the book. So there I was, on Walney, with the book in my hand. It was like taking it home! The cover, incidentally, is a photo of Walney beach taken by and old friend of mine who lives up that way - and in fact used to be in some of those bands with me back in the day.
Thanks for answering my questions Chris. I hope your book is successful in sales over on this side of the ocean. My sister wants to read it and I will be telling more people to try it out. You’re a great writer and thanks for sharing your work with us.
Thank you for having me Lisa - and I wish you and your sister all the best with your book too! ! If people want to link up with me they can find me here:
Twitter: @ChilledCH

And Song of the Sea God is available on Amazon in the USA here and you can read the first few pages to get a feel for it - see if it draws you in!


  1. A great interview, Lisa. I've been lucky to have Chris on my blog too. His book is excellent - I'm about to read it for a second time! And even better, he's a super guy as well - quite a bonus :-)

  2. Thanks for commenting Val! I agree the book is a good read and Chris is a great guy! Glad you liked the interview!

  3. Hi Chris! I'm the second half of Fender & Burns (OMG, we sound like a comedy team not a writing duo!). ;^)
    I've read pieces of your book care of Amazon and it sounds fascinating. I hope to read it in the next few weeks.
    I think in many ways we write what we know, so it seemed natural to me that the setting of Song of the Sea God ( would be set in your home-town. Is your new book set in a similarly familiar location?
    Lastly, I wanted to thank you for being on Lisa's blog. Keep writing! :)

  4. Welcome to Lisa's blog Chris! Your book sounds facinating! I have very little time in my schedule unfortunatey to sit and read for pleasure, but I think that I would want to make time for yours. It sounds very different than what is out there currently. Do you plan to write any more novels?

  5. Thanks Brandie - yes, I'm always writing. I'm looking for a home for a novel which I have completed and am just at the start of another.
    Thank you too Val - very kind of you!
    And Toni, many thanks for your comment too. I do see a great value in setting a novel somewhere you know as I think a sense of place is a great thing for a book to have. My new book is set around Gloucestershire where I currently live.