Nathan Hill, an Iowa native and former reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, published his first novel, The Nix, in 2016 to great acclaim. This On the Fly interview was recorded during Hill’s return to Iowa for the Iowa City Book Festival.
Iowa City is a town where you’re likely to see authors working in coffee shops, but Hill says that environment simply doesn’t work for him. “I need to be alone in a room with a door that locks…For me, if anyone else is nearby, it’s like they’re playing bongos.”
Hill discusses his morning writing routine, which is in keeping with his “low information per second” approach, the source of his love for the word “maneuver,” and the writing instructor’s sharp-edged comment that continues to motivate him. He considers the ways in which writing allows him to grapple with issues and mysteries. “I don’t really write something when I already know exactly how I feel about it,” he says.