Meet Halle Hill, author of her upcoming story collection Good Women. This debut follows the lives of sixteen Black women through Appalachia and the Deep South, examining the shaping of their realities. As the women wrestle with need, they find themselves in mundane, painfully ordinary experiences that are steeped with resiliency, humor, and privately long for witness. This story collection will be published in fall of 2022 in the Cold Mountain Fund series, in partnership with Charles Frazier.
Tell us a little about your debut story collection!
My collection, Good Women: Stories, is about the everyday, very human, often private lives of sixteen Black women who live in Appalachia and the Deep South. I write about their worlds and identities, as well as the function that lineage, place, gender, and desire play within their sense of self and their interiority. It fascinates me how people from back home made sense of life, how they got through. I try to give the women in my collection their multitudes; it’s important to me. We don’t allow Black girls and women their depth, let alone their full human expression. People don’t pay attention. I want to remember what usually gets dismissed.
Who/what are you reading right now? What inspires you?
I am reading the classic Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg; it’s thoughtfully practical, not pretentious. Eudora Welty’s, One Writer's Beginning has been illuminating, too. For fiction, I’m re-reading Heidi W. Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. That novel had a profound shaping on me. I’m also working through Dorothy Allison’s collection, Trash as well as Brit Bennett’s The Mothers. Earlier this spring I read Melissa Broder’s brilliant Milk Fed. It was a surreal portrait of pleasure, intimacy, and spirituality. I laughed out loud many times! I read everything Broder puts out.
Currently I’m inspired by the season. During the summer I go home and see my family. My brother and I will meet up and visit all our old haunts. It’s been powerful comparing and re-telling stories we heard growing up. It’s an interesting way to explore public memory.
How does the South or place in general inform your writing?
The South is hardwired in my writing, as place has a pull on me. Where I am physically at any time affects me. I'm proud I grew up in East Tennessee and I’ve lived all over the South: in coastal Georgia, Western North Carolina, and Alabama to name a few. My stories bounce around all those places. The South threads through me generationally; the lushness and the depravity. My family has roots in many pockets down here. I spend a lot of time trying to understand it.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am a morning writing person. I like to get up and get it started at my desk with a candle and something hot to drink. However, my best thinking time comes in the evening, often right before I fall asleep. I keep journals all over: my car, apartment, purse, so I can catch ideas as they come. My quirk is that I live for my voice recording app on my phone. When I get an idea, I often voice journal it and come back to it the next day. The ones recorded before bed or in the middle of the night are….interesting.
What do you do when you aren't writing?
When I am not writing I’m walking. I can walk for hours while I sort things out. I also love cable television, commercials and all. It’s relaxing. I like to sing and read and sit on my balcony at night. Music moves me too. I’ve been obsessed with Charlotte Day Wilson’s new album, Alpha.
What is something you learned while writing this collection?
I’ve learned to get to the heart of it. Be willing to look things in the eye: tell it like it is, otherwise, you’re wasting time. Follow your obsessions with curiosity, rather than shame; the truest, most human information is in the cringe.