Author Highlight: Whitney Hill
BIO: Whitney Hill (whitneyhillwrites.com) is the author of the Shadows of Otherside contemporary fantasy series. The bestselling first book in the series, Elemental, was the grand prize winner of the 8th Annual WD Self-Published E-Book Awards.
Whitney is also the founder of Benu Media (benumedia.com), an indie publishing imprint and creative consulting business. She leverages over a decade of marketing experience to offer resources that help indie authors rise and shine.
When she’s not writing or consulting, Whitney enjoys hiking in North Carolina’s beautiful state parks and playing video games.
How did you come up with the story concept for the Shadows of Otherside series? To start out I just wanted to write an urban fantasy with a character who looked like me and had had experiences similar to mine, since I hadn't really come across much of that in what I'd read up to that point. As the idea for the series matured, I wanted to write about a young woman who was completely unaware of her own strength, and the vulnerability and growth opportunities that come along with that as it's discovered. A lot of the concept came to me after I visited North Carolina for the first time as well. I'd had some ideas, but they exploded into possibility when I found my setting. What do you love about writing Urban Fantasy? What do you hate (or maybe just dislike) about it?I love the idea that this could be real! The Shadows of Otherside series is set local to me in North Carolina, and it's fun to be out and about imagining how different characters would interact or what the supernatural history of the area might be. I like how it's all grounded in the real world as well, which opens a lot of opportunities to speak on real-world concerns from the perspective of someone who's impacted. I guess I dislike the expectation I've seen in some places that the female protagonists be immediate and total bad-asses, giving them little room to make reasonable mistakes, be vulnerable, or grow as characters. I definitely love a kick-ass female MC but I also want to see someone more real, who I could identify with as well. When it comes to world-building do you have any particular tricks or techniques? Get the setting right, which I wrote about on my blog. Characters don't exist in a vacuum; there's so much that will be determined or revealed about them based on the circumstances of the setting. That extends to magic as well. I conceptualize magic as an energy that's in, fueled by, and impacted by the place and time in which it's being used, so knowing the setting helps me understand the strengths and limitations of the magic system. What was the most difficult part of the publishing process for you? Learning it to begin with. When you're an indie author it's all on you either to do the steps or find someone trustworthy and skilled to outsource to. There's a lot of information about what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and it can be overwhelming and conflicting. I've been feeling my way through my own process, tweaking it a little with each launch and focusing on what works for me to offer quality and consistency rather than what feeds algorithms. What does your writing space look like? I most often write in my armchair by the window, with a beverage and one of my cats trying to lay on the keyboard. Editing is done at a desk or table though. I like keeping the spaces separate as a brain cue to get me in the zone. What are your tricks for juggling writing while maintaining a personal life? Boundaries. Writing is my priority, and people in my life know that. I'm firm on making time to write each day, and committing to any deadlines that need to be met to get a book out on time. The boundaries have to extend to the writing as well though -- knowing when to take a break and refresh is important to the creative process. So, boundaries and balance. What's the best piece of advice you've received about writing? "Don't listen to writing advice." Seriously. It's all so subjective. If I don't do what feels right for me, I start to hate what I'm doing whether it's writing or anything else. I listen to my mind and body and work accordingly.
What is the best book you’ve read recently? I recently re-read A Blade So Black by LL McKinney. Alice in Wonderland was always one of my favorite classics and I love seeing it retold in the way it was here. I think about the characters for days afterward.