Mystery writer explains his craft |

Mystery writer explains his craft

Provided to the Tribune

Provided to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Author William Hill, right, visits with Whittell student Laura Olmos, left, and English instructor Jackie Petrosky following his presentations at the high school.

Fantasy and mystery author William Hill recently visited Whittell High School, where he spoke to five sessions of English and speech students about the magic of writing and storytelling as well as dragons, vampires and ghosts. His books run the gamut from fanciful to frightening.

“Bill also tailored his powerpoint lecture for my two speech classes and they were able to evaluate his work as a guest speaker,” said Jackie Petrosky, English and speech instructor at Whittell High School.

Hill, who lives in Gardnerville with his wife, Kat, and son, Brin, has been writing almost all his life. He began drawing his own superhero comic books before first grade and progressed from Sci-Fi to spy novels to fantasy and magic. Although he writes for a variety of ages, from mature to fifth-graders, most of his stories and themes appeal to youngsters and the young at heart. His books are on the accelerated reading list used in many schools as extracurricular reading for points.

The author began his presentation with magic, a sleight-of-hand trick, to emphasize how a writer brings together many components to create a unified story. He talked about plot design, word choice, conflict, his favorite authors and books, and his published works. He covered where ideas originate, including what sparked the imagination of such authors as C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien.

After covering books, games, movies and events that have influenced his life, Hill spoke about his ideas and how he turned them into stories, giving background on “The Magic Bicycle,” “California Ghosting” and his latest book, “Dragon Pawns,” as well as the six other books he has written.

He followed with a short workshop on writing mechanics including identifying what kind of story is being told, so you know where to begin and end, creating realistic characters and conflict, and how to maximize tension. Students participated in an exercise to emphasize word choice and brainstormed a storyline based upon the flow of the plot like a river through the three parts of the story.

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“We hope to have Bill back in May for a story-writing workshop,” Petrosky said.

Hill is available for booksigning, read alouds, career days and writing classes. He can be contacted at