Dre Hill is an artist, storyteller, and apple juice enthusiast from Fort Worth, TX. He graduated from Drury University in 2021 with a BA in Animation and Writing, where he reignited his childhood passion for the written word. He has many English professors to thank for that. He published his first two chapbooks, i love you means nothing through Alien Buddha Press and Melanin: Black through GutSlut Press in 2022. When not creating, Dre is often snuggling with his puppy Jet while watching Marvel movies. Find Dre at @drehillart on all platforms. His website is drehillart.com.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
The title really came when I wrote the titular poem. It was likely late May or early June 2021 when I wrote Crossroads, the poem, and right then is when I knew. Finishing that poem came with the epiphany that Crossroads would be the collection title.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
So, I definitely screamed the first time I saw what would eventually become the book cover. I was in my bed, opened the email on my phone, opened that file, and had a whole mini scream/dance party. I love the cover, and have from first sight. Shout-out to the design team on that one. Amazing job.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I have always been an artist and storyteller. As a young kid I was writing “novels” in composition notebooks and drawing on my parents’ walls. The artistic itch has always been there. I’m thankful to my parents for helping nourish it and encouraging me to cultivate it at every age and stage. I also have to credit Rick Riordan. That initial Percy Jackson series was very pivotal in my early life as a reader and writer.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
Man, there’s probably so much. For example, I worked at Six Flags Over Texas while I was in high school. I’ve been a virtual instructor for a tech summer camp. I got hit by a car while I was in college. Just a bunch of random odds, ends, and tidbits. I don’t know, there’s so much random stuff about me that I can share.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Ooo. I think for me, the most meaningful part is having Crossroads out in the world. Being able to go to events, go to schools, host signings, and being like “Hey guys, I wrote this. I’m going to read from it now. If you like it, come buy a copy and get it signed.” The human element to it all now that it’s out is amazing. It’s great being able to connect with readers old and new.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
So, funnily enough, Crossroads does have a playlist on Spotify. I really chose songs that felt relatable to my lived experiences as I was reflecting on them while writing, songs that fit certain themes or imagery in poems, songs that had direct impact on poems in the collection, and songs that had a greater general impact on me and my life in the last several years.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
Whew. One of the things I love about Crossroads is that it reiterates the universal truth of “we are not alone.” Using the backdrop of my life and lived experiences, readers are able to reflect on some of their own experiences and can realize they’re not in an echo chamber. I think ultimately what I would want readers to take away, if nothing else, is that we are constantly growing and evolving into who we want to be. Young or old, your journey isn’t over, it’s simply to be continued.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I have three new writing projects in development. There’s a chapbook and follow-up full-length collection that really dig into mental health, emotional crisis, and other things associated with those experiences. I’m really excited about them. I’m also working on a full-length romance collection. All of these projects are in various stages of development but I’m excited about how quickly they’re progressing.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
To those who wish to publish in the future, I would say just do it. Go for it. Writing the book is the first step. The second is taking the plunge into the unknown that is publishing. Atmosphere Press is a lovely place to consider on your path to publishing. Everyone I touched base and continue to touch base with is great. The Atmosphere team has been lovely, incredibly knowledgeable, and always ready to assist in whatever ways they can. They made the journey to publishing Crossroads incredibly smooth.