Ingrid Hill's stories are teeming—they are lush with richly imagined selves, telling details, and close observations. Her individual stories are so different from each other that she's not easily identifiable with a particular region or culture—she has the chops to write about any place she wants—but the common thread in these stories is the way Hill builds a net of relationships among her characters, a net that itself becomes a character, not just a backdrop. She makes the communities she writes about interesting, loveable, particular—and crowded. It takes a rare generosity to write that way, to imagine this fully a world full of selves making decisions, having their own lives. Her characters—even the minor ones—are full of sincerity and faith and perceptiveness, and the result is an energetic, completely persuasive world. Hill, the mother of twelve children, recently received a $20,000 grant from the NEA for her story "Jolie Gray." In 1989 she published her first book, a collection of short stories titled Dixie Church Interstate Blues.
"I am completing my first novel, Ursula,Under, whose origins lie in my fascination with 1) the 1926 collapse of the Barnes-Hecker iron mine in Ishpeming, Michigan 2) the history of Finnish and Swedish immigration to America 3) the history and culture of China 4) the fallacious idea, lifted without context, from Rudyard Kipling's The Ballad of East and West (1889) that "East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet," because I believe we have come to the time when they ARE meeting, and 5) the rescue of little Jessica McClure from her fall into a well in Midland, Texas, in the end of the eighties."
"A second novel is forming up, almost the antithesis of Ursula in its micro-focus: my protagonist in this will be a cross-country semi-driver, an idea that has been hovering around me for a while. The book is about personal healing from tragedy through grace."
"I am also writing short stories, primarily with New Orleans as the setting at this point. I am building toward a collection of New Orleans tales, and this is a continuing mystery to me. I write as a New Orleans expatriate, having fled (with a look like Edvard Munch's painting, The Scream) to become a Yankee. There is a lot of richness in that culture that I took in as a child, and people seem to eat up these stories, gobble gobble. Presently I am writing such a tale, set in the 1880's and involving a little-girl protagonist who has been to Constantinople on the Orient Express and at the moment is reluctantly being subjected to the ministrations of an itinerant chiropodist. This story was inspired by Edgar Degas' painting, Le Pedicure, in which he used his young niece "Joe" Balfour as a model. Themes of the perseverance of faith in the face of evil and of the triumph of innocence over experience seem to arise again and again in my work."
"I was born in New York City, spent my early childhood as a navy-brat gypsy, and then settled in New Orleans until I was grown. I've spent half my adult life in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and half in Iowa City, Iowa, both university communities, with a three-year stint in Washington State, on beautiful blue Puget Sound. I have spent some time in Sweden and some time in China. While my writing career was late in starting, I was raising my children and consciously garnering wisdom over this time: I remember in my high school Latin book a watercolored Roman matron named Cornelia saying of her children, in Latin of course, when asked to catalog her wealth and possessions, "THESE are my jewels." I feel the same way. I was left a single mom with eleven children, nine of them then still at home, got a fellowship to do a Ph.D. at Iowa, and came here to study. I remarried during graduate school and had my twelfth child. My maiden name was Hokanson, from my Swedish ship's-captain father; my married name, Hill, which is also my writing name, came from the Finnish "Sellakamaki," meaning "from the back hill," which was truncated to "Maki" and then anglicized to "Hill.""