Welcome to Deborah Hill’s world!


deb picture

And I am a writer. Recently I issued second editions of my novels, and I presume you have read or at least looked at one or the other of them — otherwise you wouldn’t be here. But perhaps you’re interested in Early American History, as well. While researching, I found many tidbits that I couldn’t use in my writing, most of which are fascinating. I’d like to share those, which is the reason I am here.

My books have been around for quite a while. This is the House was published by Coward, McCann and Geohegan in 1975, the year of the Bi-Centennial. It was a game-changer for our little family, and gave us the means to continue living simply. We moved to Vermont.


From our wood-heated dwelling in the mountains came The House of Kingsley Merrick — a bigger challenge than This is the House, actually, because its themes are more complicated. The nation was growing, and its merchants were getting richer,  most women accepted their place as chattels, and the unavoidable disaster of Civil War approached inexorably — well, you get the picture, I’m sure. But with the certainty of youth, and encouraged by the very great success of my first book, I plunged in while my husband built our house around me, chopped down trees and split wood to heat it, shoveled snow in the winter and made sure the kids caught the school bus, boiled maple syrup in the spring — you know…all the “Vermonty” things newcomers do, akin to traditional Cape Coddy things, like swimming when the Gulf Stream returns in June and digging your own clams for supper.At low tide, on Cape Cod's north shore, low tide is clamming time.

Our house was coming along nicely by the time I wrote The Heir . In some respects it is really my husband’s story, hugely fictionalized. There are parts of it that are factually true, but since they are relatively recent (compared to the other two books) I had to disguise everything about them. In the category that explores this novel, I’ll elaborate on the events that inspired the fictional ones.

Schooner_Alice_S_Wentworth_on_starboard_tackHere’s one — the schooner Alice Wentworth, which sailed Nantucket Sound in the ’60’s. My husband and I met on board, and the impression she made on us was of life-long duration, as you will see when you read The Heir. (By the way, this photo is a part of the Mystic Seaport collection. All that’s left of the Wentworth, until she rose, like a phoenix from the ashes, to become the Jenny Lawrence.)

Then came The Pretender. I wanted to see if I could write a book whose characters were never real, but reacting in a plausible manner to the historical situation in which they found themselves. In this case, the news that Parliament was going to tax the colonies without consulting the colonists themselves. Though less complex than the novels of the Kingsland Series, the same rhythm prevails: how the personal back-stories of my characters shaped their responses both to their day-to-day lives, as well as the political upheavals of the time, compelling them to move along a certain, almost predestined path whether they recognized it or not. Just as do you and I.

Whether we recognize it or not.

Map detail courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhall Map Center at the Boston Public Library
Map detail courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhall Map Center at the Boston Public Library

Additionally, I discovered ancient Boston. I copied the map made by the British military preparatory to war, then wandered through the city to see what was left. (The building encircled in red is the old State House), shown on the cover of The Pretender. Of course, it’s not so much “what’s left” of colonial Boston as it is finding the remains beneath or beside all the land that’s been created since the Revolution.

boston 1775 (1)The brown section is fill, gleaned from the Trimountain that dominated Boston for years. After the Revolution, the Colonists — excuse me — Americans — started leveling the hills to make more land, and kept at it for years and years. My exploration had to do with the old city (in white), much of which is still there if you know where to look for it. The Pretender’s aforementioned cover is set where the big blue dot is.

I’ll blog about the  people who inhabit my books. They populate Deborah Hill’s world, and I know them quite well. I’ll add pictures, too, or clip art, or graphics — anything that helps us to understand the times I portray better.

l’ll try to be a fairly regular blogger, and if I can, write something at least once a week. If you’d like to be notified when I’ve posted an essay, let me know. (Write info@northroadpublishing) And while you’re at it, any remarks you care to make, information you’d like to share, or opinions on just about anything relating to my books or the slice of American history under discussion — these would be very welcome right here, in the ‘comments’ section.

Until later, then…