Jill Hathaway writes pacy and thrilling YA. She grew up in Iowa and lives in the Des Moines area with her family.
Jill Hathaway grew up in Iowa and is a high-school English teacher, having graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. She subsequently received her MA in Literature from Iowa State University. Her YA novels, SLIDE and IMPOSTOR, are unputdownable thrillers.
She now teaches, writes and lives with her husband and small daughter in the Des Moines area.
When and how did you start writing?
In high school, much like Rollins in SLIDE, I produced a zine. It was called Salza and featured reviews of local bands, poetry, and my own artwork.
It wasn’t until 2007 that I attempted a real novel. Since then, I’ve written a few books. SLIDE is my first novel to be published.
Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?
I could lie and say my favorite book was TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but only in my adulthood did I come to truly understand the complexity and beauty of that novel.
Truthfully, the books I remember from my childhood are BUNNICULA AND THE DOLLHOUSE MURDERS. In middle school, I read SWEET VALLEY HIGH and FEAR STREET and THE SECRET CIRCLE (the first time they came out). In high school, I moved on to Stephen King and Clive Barker.
Can you talk us through the writing of your latest book? What were the key moments?
SLIDE was conceived when a co-worker and I were trying to think of concepts for a really cool novel. I remember thinking it would be so crazy if you found yourself in the head of a killer. From there, it was all about figuring out how to make that happen. I didn’t have an outline, so it was kind of exhilarating to find out what happened next. It was like discovering a really great story, only I was the one telling it.
Was it hard to get an agent? Can you talk us through the process?
It was hard in the sense that I didn’t get an agent with my first novel. So, from the time I started writing seriously, it took me three years to come up with the right story to snag an agent. SLIDE attracted a lot of interest from agents, and I signed with Sarah about a month after sending out queries.
Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?
It depends on the season. I teach during the school year, so I have to find time for writing at night and on weekends.
During the summer, I usually go to a coffee shop in the morning and write for a few hours while my husband cares for our young daughter.
When I’m drafting a novel, I try to write about 2,000 words per day. The momentum is enough to keep me going. My greatest inspiration is music. I’ve come up with countless plotlines listening to Pearl Jam or A Perfect Circle during my commute.
Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?
Keep writing, keep reading, and keep going — no matter what.
Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you've developed as an author?
I find brainstorming and drafting (except the dreaded middle) fairly easy. I’ve only recently discovered how important the revision process is. For SLIDE, Sarah gave me a 10-page, single-spaced editorial letter. I completely tore the manuscript apart and put it back together again. It took months, but now it is so much better.
When I started writing, I thought all I had to do to revise was print out my manuscript, omit a few adverbs, and check my spelling. What I’ve learned, though, is that every manuscript has its own challenges. You have to learn to identify the problems unique to your manuscript and then find a way to make it work (love that Tim Gunn).
Also, during revision you get to do all sorts of cool things like develop theme and character, things you might have been too rushed to do in the rough draft because you were so focused on getting the story out of your head and onto the page. Stories really come alive during revision.
Which favorite authors would you invite to a dinner party? What fictional character do you wish you'd invented?
I’d invite Donna Tartt, Wally Lamb, Courtney Summers, and Suzanne Collins. They’ve all created such compelling characters. That said, I wish I’d invented Katniss Everdeen. She’s so strong and independent; yet, she has weaknesses that make her real.