I want to start this post with some full disclosure. I found out about Philip Seal’s book Hilger through a Facebook post. A friend on there made those post about how a friend’s fiance had written a book. I saw the post read the information and after some checking, and help, was able to get a hold of the publisher. The book review was off from there and now we have the Ten Plus One Questions from Philip below. So enjoy his answers.
Question 1: What inspired you to write Hilger?
I was traveling across Montana and was passing through the actual town of Hilger. The town is small, way off the beaten path, and almost exactly as it is described in the book. The town had a dead look to it, and for a moment I thought it could almost be a ghost town; was there anyone around? How would I even know? I asked myself what could happen in a little town to make it deserted. Well, what if a stranger arrived in town? What if that stranger wasn’t quite what he seemed…?
Question 2: Is there any significance to the name names of your main characters?
None, other than I tried to keep the names period correct. By that I mean in 1979, there were not very many girls named Mercedes and Bianca, or men named Asher and Beckett. My one regret is giving the two main female characters, Sally and Sandy, similar sounding names. Some readers have told me it is hard to remember which one is which.
Question 3: During the writing process did you find yourself thinking about any of your memories?
So much of the book came from my memories; in a sense the whole story really happened. For example, the part about the boxcar. When I was a little kid, me and my friend traveled a bit further from the house than we were allowed to go, and we came upon a rather macabre scene: an old boxcar with the doors open, toilet paper strung about, and in the opening hung what appeared to be a skinned and bloody human body. We ran home and told mom, and she explained to us that it probably was just a deer that a hunter had hung inside the boxcar to age. We accepted the explanation, but I still have a picture of that scene stuck in my head after all these years, and what I seen doesn’t look like a deer hanging there to me. I used memories like that in Hilger, except in the book the little boy tells the sheriff, and the events that have recently been happening compel the sheriff to investigate.
Question 4: What were some of your favorite books growing up?
My favorite book is Aztec by Gary Jennings. It’s a masterpiece, and I hope he knew how good it was before he died. I like anything that is historical fiction, but really I like everything and anything that is well-written.
Question 5: Do you hear from fans of the book, and if you do what do they say?
I have heard from a few fans and I love to hear from them since so often their comments surprise me. One young girl told me the part about Oscar thinking the devil was after him was the scariest thing she had ever read, since that was a real fear of hers. Another reader told me there was too much sex in the book, and I thought what sex??! And it surprises me how readers felt about some of the characters; while most everyone liked Blanchie, some felt sympathetic towards Bob, yet others felt outright disdain for him.
Question 6: What was the feeling like when you saw the very first printed version of your book?
It was very rewarding to see Hilger in print. I had worked so hard and so long on it, and when Black Rose Writing took the project on, I had deadlines to get the book finished. The last two months before publication was very hectic, and then all at once it was over. It left a void, and I immediately started my next book.
Question 7: Do you continue to write?
You betcha, everyday.
Question 8: What is the message you are want people to take away from the book?
First I want them to be entertained. Then I want them to realize that a lot happens in these quiet little towns. They’re not so quiet when you peel away the layers and get to know the people who live there. I’ve lived in small towns most of my life; there are some strange and interesting people in them.
Question 9: If you could envision a future for your main character, what would it be?
The book starts with Daryl as a young man and ends with him as an old man, so I hope that Daryl gets that quiet retirement he’s been dreaming of, but we get the sense that his retirement will be anything but quiet.
Question 10: Who are those in the dedication of the book, and their importance to you?
I dedicated Hilger to my father since he has always encouraged me to write. He is my biggest fan and my harshest critic.
When it came to the Plus One Question Philip did not answer as he isn’t sure where he’d go. Got to give him credit for this as shows he’s enjoying the writing process and hasn’t had time to really thing where he’d go to promote his book. At least that’s the theory I’m going with and based off of his questions above.
A special thanks to Black Rose Writing as they assisted in this review by providing me with a copy after I made a request for the book as explained in the opening.