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Interview with Pam Hillman

Pam Hillman used to send ACFW newsletters through the mail to a handful of members, so when she tells pre-published authors to find a support group for their writing, she knows whereof she speaks. She can’t imagine her writing career without a group like ACFW. Something else Pam can’t live without when she’s writing? Keep reading to find out!

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Hi Pam! Tell us about the setting of your new novel. I can't recall reading any historical fiction set in Mississippi. What will readers be surprised to discover? And being a resident of the state, what do you love about it?
I think readers will be surprised that the French, British, and the Spanish all held the territory at various times in the 18th century. I was born and raised in Mississippi, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love that we’re mostly real. You get what you see.

Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
Initially, the idea was to write about a male indentured servant. But that’s not enough to keep a reader engaged for a whole book, so one thing led to another, and here we are.

What draws you to this time period?
Indentured servitude for starters, and I had this narrow window of time where highwaymen plied the Natchez Trace, and I wanted to capitalize on that. Merchants and farmers floated their goods down the Mississippi River to Natchez and New Orleans, then walked back up the Natchez Trace, their pockets full from the sale of their goods. Bands of unscrupulous and violent highwaymen lay in wait for unsuspecting travelers.

Tell us what a typical day is like for you. (And if there's no such thing, just give us a glimpse of one day in your life.)
A typical writing day starts off with early morning coffee while I check email, then an hour of writing, an hour of editing, and then an hour of working on social media, all before lunch. I’m not sure if this is the exact truth or a pipe dream, but it sure sounds good to be so productive.

When did you start writing? How would you describe your journey to publication?
I’ve been writing most of my life, but I seriously started pursuing publication a little over 23 years ago. Over the years I’ve developed relationships with industry professionals and other writers, learning and improving my craft a bit at a time.

Being chosen as one of the launch authors for Tyndale’s Digital First Initiative was a combination of having a completed manuscript ready to go at the exact time Tyndale started looking for debut authors to launch the program. When my agent, Steve Laube, asked if I was interested in submitting, I didn’t hesitate. And the rest is history.

What advice would you give to unpublished/aspiring authors?
Never give up. Pay your dues, and find a group of people who support you 100 percent. I found that group in the Seekers ( and, on a broader scale, ACFW.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I’m not sure. When I start telling something, my adult kids give me that look that says, “Get to the POINT already.” They say that I go on and on way too long. I once had an editor (back while I was still unpublished) decline a manuscript with the reason that everything took too long to happen.

But everyone doesn’t see all the details as taking too long or excessively boring. A recent reviewer posted, “The strength of Hillman's writing lies in her description. She uses her words well, proficiently painting scenes and scenarios that are easy to imagine in vivid detail.”

I’ll take that as a compliment.

What is something surprising you've learned or discovered in your research, either for this book or other books?
One surprising thing I learned about indentured servitude was that generally there was a contract between the master and the servant and the servants had more rights than I realized. Of course, there were unscrupulous masters and incorrigible servants, but by-and-large, it was in the interest of both parties to make the agreement work.

Once an indentured servant served his term (or was released for whatever reason), he/she had all the rights of the freemen/women of the community. There was no stigma attached to having been an indentured servant in colonial America.

Finish this sentence: When I'm writing, one thing I can't live without is _______.

I suppose I should explain, huh? Seriously, if I’m on a tight deadline, I need a power nap every few hours, then I’m good to go for another 3-4 hour stretch. Some authors can write for hours and hours on end. But after 3-4 hours of intense writing, I’m drained.

I’ll take a power nap over a snack or exercise regimen any day.

What are you working on next?
I’m deep in the final edits on The Road to Magnolia Glen (working title), book #2 in the Natchez Trace Novel series. It features Connor’s younger brother, Quinn O’Shea, and Kiera Young. Quinn is the second O’Shea and has spent his youth raising his younger brothers back home in Ireland. He’s heartily sick of family and just wants to turn all responsibility over to his older brother as soon as he reaches Natchez. Kiera Young also has the care of two younger sisters, but instead of wanting to abdicate responsibility for them, she embraces it. But after Quinn rescues Kiera and her sisters from a brothel, he finds himself suddenly responsible for three females in addition to his younger brothers. And things go downhill from there. The Road to Magnolia Glen should be out in the summer of 2018.

Any parting words?
I’ve been involved with ACFW in one capacity or another from the beginning. Originally, I was the newsletter editor and snail-mailed the newsletter to the handful of members. Later, I became the book club coordinator, then was elected as treasurer.

I can’t imagine what my life — or my writing career — would look like without the lifelong friends I’ve made online and at the annual conference. Seriously, I don’t think I would be published today without ACFW.


Lisa Bartelt is a child of the flatlands fulfilling her dream of living near mountains in Pennsylvania. She loves reading, writing and listening to stories—true ones, made-up ones and the ones in between—preferably with a cup of coffee in hand. Wife, mom of two, writer, ordinary girl, Lisa blogs about books, faith, family and the unexpected turns of life at

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