Interview: Charlie Hill

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We talk to Charlie Hill, whose “Theme Park Love Story” appeared in Issue #33.

Your story takes place in a theme park. What are your personal feelings about these places? Do you consider them “real”?

If you buy into Guy Debord’s idea of The Society of the Spectacle, then they’re as “real” as anything else. Or, I suppose, given their lack of artifice, even more so…

You have one novel published and a second due out soon. Can you tell me a bit about these?

My second novel, Books, is a satire about books and art. It’s due out from Tindal Street Press/Serpent’s Tail in November.

My first novel was set against the background of the alternative politics of the early 1990’s (the road protest movement, the Campaign against 1994’s Criminal Justice Bill etc). I wrote it as an exploration of different attitudes to “the truth” and different approaches to truth-seeking. And realised shortly afterwards that what I wrote it as was almost completely irrelevant…

In your occasional guest blogs on Writers’ Hub, you mention literary fiction a few times. How would you define literary fiction? Is that what you write?

Blimey. Tricky one. For the purposes of my Manifesto, I said: “Literary Fiction is a genre of fiction that tries to do something new with language, helps us understand better what it means to be alive and changes the way we think about the world.”

Do I write Literary Fiction? I’d like to think so. But see above. What do I know?

You say on your website that you left school aged sixteen. What are your views on the British school system? Did you consider staying on in education?

I did consider staying on, but only because I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do and was considering everything. I like the idea of education for the sake of it: I think the more you understand the world, the richer your life becomes. But I’m not daft enough to think that this is the purpose of the education system.

You organise a Litfest, and are the Writer in Residence at a community cafe. What do these roles involve? Do you think it’s important for writers to engage with their community?

The PowWow LitFest was set up by my friend, the novelist Andy Killeen, and it grew out of a very successful writing group he runs. I do think it’s important to encourage people to express themselves creatively but although I offer a manuscript reading service at Cafe Ort, I’m not cut out for what Andy does. I’m also not convinced by many of the practitioners within the creative writing bubble…

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Charlie Hill is a writer from Birmingham. His short stories have appeared in Ambit, Stand and Litro. His first novel was described in the Observer as “rich in wry social commentary but also funny and linguistically dexterous… an inventive work that shows much promise.” His second is due out in November 2013. His website is: www.charliehill.org.uk.