Antonio Hill Interview

The-Summer-of-DeadAntonio Hill took the time to answer a few questions for us. His first book is just coming out here in the US and it’s wonderful. Also one of my all time favorite book titles! THE SUMMER OF DEAD TOYS

Jon: Antonio, I would like to start off by saying that the title, THE SUMMER OF DEAD TOYS is a real attention grabber and one of my all time favorites. Where did it come from?

Antonio: Thank you. I am glad you like it. In fact, the title came to my mind when I had written half of the novel; I wanted it to express the idea of broken childhoods, without being too obvious about it. That’s why I used two “positive” ideas (summer and toys) and added an unsettling one (dead). Toys can be broken, or left behind, but a “dead toy” suggests something deeply wrong, something that should never happen. At the beginning my publishers in Spain were a bit reluctant because it sounded a bit gothic to them, but once they read the whole manuscript they understood it perfectly.

Here’s a shot of Antonio (left) being interviewed last year at Harrogate. The picture is from their site.

Jon: When you sat down to write the first book were you planning a series? And if so, did this have any bearing on how you set up Inspector Salgado as a character?

Antonio: Not really. The idea of the series came later, just before the book was published in Spain and when it had already been sold to a few foreign countries. But from the moment I started writing I thought that I should have a few strong main characters because it makes the book more interesting itself. I like Hector and think readers will want to follow him along, but also think people will gravitate towards his new assistant, Leire, who is a more energetic character and who takes on a very important role in the next novel.

Jon: What made you want to write crime fiction?

Antonio: I have been a fan of crime fiction since I was about 13 and began to read Agatha Christie’s books. Then I passed to Chandler, Thompson, Hammett (I had a whole collection of crime novels that I bought from my pocket money in the newsagent’s). They’re still in my parents’ house. I like reading other genres too, but I must admit I enjoy a good crime novel more than any other.

Jon: Before sitting down at a keyboard what were you doing to make a living?

Antonio: I have done many different things in my life. I am a Psychologist, but never worked in that. I taught English in a secondary school for years and then, after taking a course in publishing, I began to work for a publishing house as a collaborator. And then I did my first translation. After that, work as a translator of literary fiction has been my main income over the last 15 years.

Jon: Is your writing method organized, outlines and predetermined ending or is it more organic and you follow the story where it takes you?

Antonio: I am quite organized. I think this is specially necessary with crime novels, because the author needs to know what really happened from the beginning or characters just sound false. I had outlined a general plot (who killed whom and why), but then I also let secondary characters grow a bit during the writing. It would be too boring to know everything!

Jon: What’s your favorite part of THE SUMMER OF DEAD TOYS ?

Antonio: That’s difficult to answer, because there are many parts I like and at the same time I would like to rewrite the whole book just to improve it. I think that Iris’ diary is quite strong, but also the end (the last few pages) can be shocking for readers. I also enjoyed writing about the teenagers, Gina and Aleix (two rich, spoiled kids who get in a trouble bigger than they expected…)

Jon: Who are some of the people you like to read?

Antonio: I read a lot, and not only crime fiction of course. In crime novels I especially like Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River” is one of the books that made a big impression on me when I first read it). I am also a big fan of John Irving, Kazuo Ishiguro (I loved “Never Let me Go”) or the short stories by Alice Munro.