Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Interview with Jim Hill: Writer

I met Jim at the Big Sur Writer's Workshop. Fate threw us together in a critique group with Jeff Stone as our leader. What a group! What a leader! And Jim...What a writer!

Right away I knew Jim and I would be friends. His humor made me laugh out loud and I never do that! Seriously, it's difficult to get me to smile, let alone make giggle sounds. The book he's working on rings of Diary of a Wimpy Kid - it's that funny, that good! 

I guarantee you, Jim will find an agent and will be published within the next 3 long as he finishes the thing! Go Jim! Go! I believe in you man!

Below are the questions I asked him:

1.    Has milk or anything else ever come out of your nose due to laughter?

Oh, heck ya. Root beer is pretty bad. Spaghetti is the worst.

2.    How long have you been a member of SCBWI? How had this group helped you?

Since 2009. SCBWI is the best resource for getting up to speed as a writer. The website, the conferences and the people are there to "raise your game." Perhaps the best benefit was access to local crit groups.

3.    What and where was your last publication printed? Was it for children?

My last, and um, first, publication was a poem that appeared in the SCBWI bulletin. It was aimed at writers, not kids. The next publication will be for kids. Right? Right?

4.    How many hours a day do you write?

Actual "butt-in-chair" time varies between a measly 15 minutes up to four hours. I try very hard to write every day, but family and day job sometimes bump it. I'm almost always thinking about stories. Capturing them is the tricky part!

5.    What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you as a kid?

In sixth grade I met a cute girl at the skating rink. On the first lap around the rink, I fell over backwards, hit my head (cue the hollow melon sound), got up, tried to shake it off and play it cool, made it half-way around the rink and collapsed. Out cold.

I woke up on my back, looking at the skate guard and a ring of faces rubber-necking the incident. The girl was gone.

6.    You recently attended the Big Sur Writer's workshop. What are your thoughts on that writer's get away?

I had a great time. It's a unique experience that offers in-depth workshop sessions with heavy hitters in publishing (writers, editors and agents). You can't get too far without an agent anymore. Hearing directly from the team at Andrea Brown Literary about what works, what they look for in a query and the state of the market takes this workshop to a whole other level.

Add in the immersion and networking with other kidlit writers and it's something every serious writer should consider. It has the potential to change your life.

7.    When you submit your work, do you submit to one agent/publisher only or do you multi-submit?

Multi-submit. Make it clear in your queries that you're doing it. When you get an offer, follow up with the other folks you've queried and let them know.

8.    How long does it take you to write a chapter book? Picture book? Novel?

I've never written a chapter book. A first draft of a picture book can be very quick, but I revise and revise and revise over a few weeks (with breathing space in between).

I'm still finishing my first novel. I've been slow with it because I'm a perfectionist, and I'm learning as I go. Which means I've been revising as I go. I've gotten great feedback on it and can't wait to wrap it up and send it out.

9.    Why children's books?

I've always loved children's books, and when I finally decided to take a serious stab at writing it just felt right. I started with picture books because I also dabble in illustration, but found that I wanted to write longer, more involved stories. I think I've found my voice in middle-grade books. My inner 12-year old has some stories to tell.

10. Did you study writing for kids? If so, where? Any classes you would recommend for newbies?

I started taking writing workshops at the Cape Cod Writers Conference. That led me to SCBWI and more workshops and conferences.

I've recently started an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

That path is working for me, so I can recommend it to newbies. You can learn a lot on your own, but workshops, classes and formal education condense the time it takes to grow as a writer.

11. What other writing groups or associations do you belong to and why?

I'm on the board for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I liked the conference so much I decided to get more involved. The CCWC doesn't focus on any genre. We try to be a learning community for all writers on the path to publication. We've also started some excellent programs for young writers, and I think that's very important in our screen-centric world.

12. What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you as a kid? 

It's tough to settle on just one. How about two? I put flash paper in my mother's ash tray in order to get her to quit smoking. Big fiery, flash. Startled mother. Grounded son. She didn't quit.

My brother made a batch of the worst pancakes ever. They were so tough you couldn't chew them, so we did the natural thing and had a pancake fight. No syrup, just extra-tough pancakes flying like frisbees.

13. Describe the book you are working on in 5 words.
Middle grade geek boy humor or Sid Fleischman Humor Award winner. (I can dream, right?)

14. Who is your biggest cheerleader?

My wife, followed closely by my four year old son. I tell him early drafts of my picture books. When he asks to hear more about the characters a week or so later I know I've struck a chord.

I've been very lucky to have a great group of friends (online and real world) that have helped encourage me every step of the way too.

15. What one word of advice would you give to people entering the kidlit world of writing?


16. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
I get up between 5am and 6am most days to get some writing done. My favorite breakfast is a big bowl of Peanut Butter Puffins with fresh strawberries, and about a gallon of coffee.

17. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

If anyone wants to follow my blog - <>  - and like my Facebook page, that would be great.

18. Do you tend to write in a male or female voice and why?
Male voice so far, although I have a female protagonist that I want to try in the not too distant future.

19. What comes easier, writing or illustrating?

Writing. Which is sometimes an ego-beater for me because I've always wanted to be an illustrator first.

20. When did you begin drawing? What age? Why?

I can't remember a time that I didn't draw. My sister is an artist. She encouraged me and we'd draw together.

21. Does writing and drawing calm you or help with stress?
Absolutely. A day spent creating is always a good day.


  1. A fun interview, Jim. Your 'persevere' is not so different to my 'be Determined!'.

    Looking forward to hearing great news...

  2. It was great meeting Jim at the LA SCBWI conference this summer and despite seeing him in his pajamas,* I know more about him now. Fun interview.

    *at the Saturday Night Pajama Party

  3. Nice interview, Angie. I'll be looking for Jim's books soon in bookstores!