We recently caught up with Hill, 44, by phone from his home in North Yorkshire, England. About two years ago, Hill was tapped to work on the novelization of the screenplay for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, a Netflix film released in February as a sequel to the Oscar-winning 2000 movie directed by Ang Lee.
Based on the Crane-Iron Pentology, a five-part series of martial arts books written about 80 years ago by Wang Dulu, Sword of Destiny features a legendary sword called the Green Destiny and warriors — both male and female — willing to risk their lives for it. Hill, an expert on Dulu, lived and worked in rural China throughout his 20s, and although turning a screenplay into a book was "a new experience,'' he was delighted to get on board with this project. "When I got the call, it was very exciting. I knew it was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.''
Hill is also the author of The Drink and the Dream Teahouse, Shieldwall and Passing Under Heaven, a historical novel inspired by the life of poet Yu Xuanji.
What's on your nightstand?
Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread. I'm reading it because I heard an interview when she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Are you enjoying it?
I'm halfway through. She's masterful, like she's pulling off all kinds of things, and I've enjoyed getting a sense of her writing. I'm also reading A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel.
When were you first introduced to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?
I saw the film in 2000, but it was April 2014 that I was approached to write the book. I was living in Hong Kong. It was a small literary scene. The agent for (Wang Dulu's) family contacted my editor.
What was your main concern while writing?
I wanted to bring as much of the material from the original books that I could, and I wanted to be honest to the writer. It's his story.
Please talk a little about the strong women characters in Dulu's work.
(The women characters) are definitely one of the great things about the stories. Now, at this point in history, Wang Dulu might appear very traditional, but he was writing just after the Quing Dynasty had fallen, a time when China was throwing off traditional practices, like binding women's feet. Women were getting all kinds of freedoms and this comes across in (his writing).
Contact Piper Castillo at email@example.com. Follow @Florida_PBJC.