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Author Interview with Joan Hill

Author Interview with Joan Hill

by Robin (jubead)


Robin: Rarely does a book’s title so aptly capture the character and purpose of a book, but such is the case with The Miracle Chase: Three Women, Three Miracles, and a Ten Year Journey of Discovery and Friendship, co-authored by Joan Hill, Katie Mahon, and Mary Beth Phillips. As the title claims, this remarkable work is the product of the combined efforts of three close friends, who spent years of their lives seeking, and most importantly finding, evidence of the presence of miracles in the world, and indeed in their very own lives. I’m most grateful for the opportunity to interview one of these women, author Joan Hill.

The Miracle Chase is an amazing book.  What inspired you to approach the overall story from three separate angles, and how challenging did this choice in style make the writing process?  

Joan: First, thank you for the compliment about The Miracle Chase and for this interview – we really appreciate this opportunity to connect with readers.  To answer your question, recognizing our personal differences, we thought there would be value in three unique perspectives and we knew audiences would relate differently to each of us. We wanted our authentic voices to come through and although it was more difficult to write in a way that wouldn’t confuse people, we thought it was well worth the effort.


Robin: You tackle some difficult topics in the book. Was it cathartic or difficult to relive some of the more challenging times in your life?

Joan: Both…At times we had very intense conversations with each other.  It is not easy to talk about the early death of a parent, the abuse of a child, or the breakup of a marriage and yet as we bared our souls to each other, we found strength and support, which added a new and deeper dimension to our friendship. We really believe that The Miracle Chase is a journey of Faith, Friendship and Survival because we lived it!


Robin: How has the book being published affected your relationship with co-authors Katie Mahon and Mary Beth (Meb) Phillips?

Joan: Publication of the book was a sort of vindication and a celebration for the years of time, effort and angst we had spent in the book’s creation…it was like being in the birthing room together and was a peak experience of our lives!


Robin: The book was written over quite a few years of the three of you getting together to talk about your personal searches for miracles, jotting down notes on index cards. I find the approach refreshing and intimate.  The story flows so seamlessly; how did the three of you decide which cards and chapters to use?  How many cards did you end up with, and where are they now?

Joan: We all had our favorite cards, ideas and points that we wanted to make in the book.  In reality, the book went through a couple of iterations.  At first, it was too academic, then it was hard to meld our voices together, but we stuck with it and in writing about our journey we managed to make the subject of miracles accessible and flow in a way that we hand the ‘baton’ back and forth between each other.  As for the cards – believe it or not, we copied them all for each other…I even look at mine frequently for reference – they were like a security blanket!  Our kids thought it was hysterical that their moms were willingly using index cards to take notes – something they seamlessly do on their computers!


Robin: The epigraphs you’ve chosen for each chapter are so fitting and appropriate for the writing that follows! How did you go about selecting such perfect quotes, was it difficult?  One of my favorites is the quote that precedes Chapter 6 – Fear of Flying:

“When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.” – Edward Teller

I can identify with this quote the most.  Is there a similar quote that became your favorite during the writing process, and, if so, why did it stand out to you? 

Joan: Finding the quotes was a gift for us… these amazing quotes were an icebreaker – we would use them as a takeoff point for our discussions on miracles and also on what was happening in our lives…I love all of our quotes, but a favorite of mine is not in the book; it is from Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “If you want your dreams to come true, you mustn’t oversleep.”


Robin: Fear vs. Faith is a struggle as old as humanity itself; did writing this book ease your burdens in this regard, or do you still fight those same battles from day to day?  

Joan: I think our faith grew in maturity as issues of life and death become more approachable after you have thought about them for a while. Now even though we know we will never have all the answers, the mere fact of addressing issues of faith, fear and our place in the universe lends a certain degree of comfort in knowing that even after opening Pandora’s Box we can still go on.


Robin: Speaking to other women who may be going through their own difficult struggles against breast cancer, what words of wisdom and encouragement can you offer in terms of your experience with drawing strength from your faith? 

Joan: The biggest piece of advice I give anyone who is facing a difficult time in their lives including cancer is to keep their sense of humor…at a time when you feel out of control, it is something that no one can take away from you – and to be honest, me with a bald head is just plain funny – my hair has reached past my elbows since I was 20 years old – and instead of the wig I wanted to wear and couldn’t since it made my 5 year old cry, I had baseball caps in every color to match my mood and my clothes…


Robin: Were you comfortable revealing such personal details about your family’s experiences?

Joan: No, I pretty much am an “I’m fine,” kind of person and the level of openness in the book is really hard for me.  In fact, I tell people they will learn more about me than they would ever want to know.  However, this honesty has resulted in a really big benefit to us as well.  Because we were so open, it was like we gave people permission to be more open as well to share their stories with us.  As a consequence, in traveling the country, we have heard all sorts of wonderful personal miracle stories making this miracle journey even more amazing.


Robin: What has your family’s reaction been to the book?

Joan: They have been incredibly supportive – I think while they joked about how long it took us, they always believed we would get it done.  I have been astounded that my husband and children have shared the book within their professional circle of contacts, with their teachers, and with their friends.  As parents, we oftentimes spend time being proud of our kids and it has been a joy to have them be proud in return.


Robin: Are you a reader? What authors have influenced your life? Do you have a favorite author?

Joan: I really enjoy reading and just wish there were more hours in the day.  I loved the short stories of O Henry, sometimes, I see my life in short story form…My father was a lawyer and author…I  learned from him the importance of the written word as a vehicle to both influence others as well as a way to know yourself.

Robin: What books did you read as a child? Was there a favorite?

Joan: I read a lot…many times with a flashlight under the covers.  Nancy Drew, Atlas Shrugged, science fiction…I love historical novels and being drawn into the story while learning something at the same time.


Robin: What impact has social media had on the sales and exposure of your book?

Joan: We have a great website at www.themiraclechase.com and we thought it would be fun to initiate a blog there as well.  Some of the stories are amazing, but I think some of us are blog neophytes and sometimes are afraid to chime in to the discussion.  We have had success connecting with our readers though our monthly enewsletter where we tell new stories and share information.  We also have fan page on Facebook and even are ‘linked in’…It is a great way to let people know when we will be speaking in their area and to announce important dates like the release of the paperback version of The Miracle Chase due out in May of 2012.  It’s a brave new world out there and we are learning and excited about the social media possibilities.


Robin: What are your thoughts on electronic books? What are your thoughts on book swapping sites such as PaperBackSwap.com? 

Joan: We love the ebook option and have done well in ebook sales…once Amazon and Barnes and Noble finish their squabbling ebooks will be even more available on all devices.  The concept of PaperBackSwap is terrific as it takes the neighborhood book sharing idea to a whole new level.


Robin: What is next for you? Will there be another book? 

Joan: Funny you should ask…and yes, we are working on a new book…we are speaking at the Women’s Conferences in MA, PA and TX over the next couple of months and are thinking a lot about meaning in our lives and the notion of successful transitions and second acts.  We are also thrilled that the book will be used in college classrooms…We really do believe that the universe is conspiring to help us in our message.


Robin: Now for some fun stuff:

  • Coke or Pepsi?  Diet Coke
  • Atlantic or Pacific Ocean? Atlantic
  • Snickers or Milky Way? Snickers
  • Night owl or early bird? Either, both
  • Coffee or Tea? So coffee


Joan, I thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  


Joan has generously offered an autographed copy of The Miracle Chase for a member who comments on this Interview. A winner will be chosen at random.  Good Luck, everyone!


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10 Responses to “Author Interview with Joan Hill”

  1. ANNA S. (SanJoseCa) says:

    I was just talking with a couple of friends yesterday, over coffee, about miracles! About how seemingly impossible things happen and how nothing is really a coincidence. I can’t wait to read the book and check out the website.

  2. Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty) says:

    Great interview Robin and what a unique way of writing a book. Sounds very interesting.

  3. Cozette M. (CozSnShine) , says:

    Ohhhhhhh great interview, thanks!
    Such an interesting subject for a book!
    I wonder how high the wish list went today after this blog and the thread in CMT!

  4. James L. (JimiJam) says:

    Fantastic job, Robin!! Sounds like a remarkably amazing book, and the way it was put together is just too cool for words!

  5. Hunter S. (Hunter1) says:

    Love this! Fabulous job Robin and I’m soooo gonna get this book!

  6. Diane G. (icesk8tr) , says:

    Awesome interview!! Looks interesting, going to have to check it out!

  7. Joy L. (vintagejoy) says:

    What a great interview, Robin. Sounds like a wonderful book ~ to think that three ladies collaborated to do this is amazing!

  8. Lori B. says:

    Loved this review. Thanks for sharing the backstory.

  9. Rebecca R. (abeccapug) says:

    The whole concept of the book sounds interesting. I think it would make for a grand reading adventure. I liked the idea of having the quotes at the beginning of the chapters and then using that as a springboard to tell your stories. The quote by Eleanor Roosevelt was cool! I’d never heard that one before. I agree totally that faith plays a huge role in discovering miracles. I think they happen everyday all the time. We just have to be open to recognizing and receiving them. We also have to remember that they don’t just occur during good times, but also in bad times. These struggles are what make us stronger and the miracle that much more profound. Good luck to the authors with this book and their next book. Congratulations! I look forward to reading this book.

  10. Vanessa V. (vanessav) says:

    I’d love to read this. I enjoyed the interview. Thanks!

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