Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My relationship with New Orleans began with a job as a cook on Bourbon Street at the age of seventeen. My restaurant resume now includes many of New Orleans’ iconic music and dining destinations.
And while I no longer live in New Orleans full time I continue to live by the expat creed “Be a New Orleanian wherever you are.”
A devoted reader of detective and crime novels, I have worked as a chef on a boat traveling the inland waterways since Hurricane Katrina and began writing in my spare time. I presently divide my time between the water and a Victorian-era home in Hannibal, Missouri that I share with my wife and our rescue pets which include a neurotic wolfhound/terrier mix and too many cats.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My first novel is titled The Blue Garou. I chose to create a character who will allow me to give a voice to issues about the post-Katrina recovery and social changes in New Orleans and the post-service challenges of those who served in classified positions in the ‘war on terror.’ I was told by multiple agents that ‘nobody wants to hear about those things’ and that simply spurred me on and solidified my decision to self-publish.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write on a Dell Venue computer, which allows me to write literally anywhere. I compose using this computer, often sitting up in bed or in a comfortable chair. This is how most people will read the finished book.
I then transfer my rough draft to a USB memory stick and do my editing on a desktop computer with a large screen which allows to view each page as an actual page of a book.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I have nearly complete collections of Robert Parker’s detective series based on the Spenser character and James Lee Burke’s series of Robicheaux books. I also read anything by Lawrence Block and Elmore Leonard I can get my hands on. Each of these authors have a particular skill in writing about complex characters and develop very challenging situations and cases for their protagonists to resolve.
I also read the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett because of his ability to conceal a great discourse on very real issues inside of works of brilliantly written fantasy fiction full of wit.
What are you working on now?
I am working on the second novel in the series and anticipate a June 2015 release. This book will address recovery issues in the Lower Ninth Ward and continue exploring the depths of the central characters’ own demons and secrets.
The initial character stories have a five book arc, but I will have written my protagonist into a position to continue on to further adventures at the end of that fifth novel.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Word of mouth among my friends who are readers has actually proven to get me the best initial jolt and favorable reviews, and I give a select few of them copies of the first edited drafts to see how they like the story itself. The insights they come back to me with give me an idea of how well I have made the points I wanted to make as well as suggestions on how readers will view the character developments.
Having honest and well-written reviews in every market the book is available has proven to be more important than the number of places the book is simply mentioned. Just having the cover image and a book description does little to pull it out of each day’s flood of new releases on the promotional websites I have used.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Be sure that being a writer is what you really want to do above all else, and then listen to your own inner voice before anyone else’s. Do listen to constructive criticism, but ignore those who just like to say nasty things. Know your story and know your characters, but accept that your characters are very likely going to change your story as you write it.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I was fortunate enough to have been a houseguest of the founders of BooksWest and worked with them on the very first book fair in 1975. I was allowed the unique opportunity to dine with them and a number of authors I had grown up reading.
Among them was Kurt Vonnegut, whose advice to a young wannabe writer was this: “Never refuse an invitation.” I have yet to disprove the genius of that suggestion. Accepting invitations is how you discover new things and people, and you never know how either of those will expand your world and the opportunities they will present.
What are you reading now?
I read James Lee Burke’s book Light of the World and Mark Mazetti’s fascinating book The Way of the Knife while on my last boat cruise and am at home now catching up on a month’s worth of back issues of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic.
I generally try to clear my head of other author’s writing when I sit down to write. I don’t want anyone to ever pick up one of my books and say how much it reminds them of the writing of anyone else. It would be a back-handed complement and what they would really be saying is that I should develop a voice of my own.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I am struggling to make the difficult transition from writer to author. Anyone can write (and we are inundated with the evidence of this every time we look at an eBook website) but it takes more than typing ability to succeed and make a career out of telling my stories to an ever increasing audience.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The book is very accurate in its religious points and characters, and then throws them off a cliff just to see what happens.
Author Websites and Profiles
H. Max Hiller Amazon Profile
H. Max Hiller’s Social Media Links