Lisa Hilton

Lisa Hilton writes history books and historical fiction, and is the author of Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince (2014) and Wolves in Winter (2012).

Q: What is your typical day as an author like?

A: Dull! When I’m working I do the same things in the same order every day. Eating breakfast alone, after a workout, is paramount – I loathe being disturbed. Then I sit in an ashtray and a heap of books, occasionally sobbing faintly, until it’s time to pick up my daughter from school. After she’s in bed, I do another hour or so, then collapse with a bottle of wine. Every day, until the deadline is met.

Q: How did you first get published?

A: I was lucky enough to find an amazing agent on my first try, who sold my first book as part of a two-book deal to Alan Samson of Orion, who remains my brilliant and patient editor until this day. Of course, I’ve been doing this since I was 25, so it has rendered me unemployable in any other field.

Q: What advice would you give people trying to get published?  

A: You have to care about writing, not talk about it. Work every day, ideally with a set word limit that you have to reach before you allow yourself to stop. This can be quite small, to allow for other activities, but it is essential to produce a viable full-length text for your first attempt. Agents are hard to find, you have to be extremely determined and persistent.

Q: Which writers do you most admire and why?

A: Gosh – so many. Hilary Mantel for being the most exciting prose stylist working in English; Sarah Waters for her extraordinary ability to conjure atmosphere; Jennifer Egan for the brilliance of her intellectual vision; David Mitchell for his imaginative range.

My favourite writers are probably Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford, but then I’d have to add Zola and Thackeray and Jane Austen. Recently I’ve been gripped by Mary Renault’s historical novels, and I went through a major Angela Thirkell phase last year. Donna Tartt, too, for the magnificence of The Goldfinch. The list goes on and on.  

To find out more about Lisa, click here.

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