My name is Jennifer Hill. I moved to the creative and progressive capital city of Austin, Texas with my mother, father and two older sisters when she I was six years old. My birthday, May 31, is shared by one of my favorite American writers, Walt Whitman.
For a time, my father was a writer and English teacher, and my mother, a painter and art teacher. They met in Sacramento, CA in 1964 where they both taught high school. Growing up, I excelled in English and Social Studies, and always gravitated toward classic English stories like Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit. I wrote my first book when I was nine years old called “Albert the Blue Alligator” and methodically called every book publisher in the Austin Yellow Pages to try to get it published.
When I was 13, I went to Winchester, Hampshire England for the summer with my best friend Nancy’s family—a life event which solidly confirmed my ambition to become a writer. There, my childhood literary experiences came alive when I had the chance to visit Oxford, Jane Austen’s home in Chawton and various sites around London.
As a high school freshman, I joined the newspaper staff and was determined to become editor-in-chief by my senior year. I did. I proudly lead the award-winning student newspaper which helped me secure an academic scholarship to Emerson College in Boston, MA. In 1991 I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Writing, Literature and Publishing with minors in Philosophy and Mass Communications. I worked as an editorial assistant for Ploughshares literary magazine. I began what would become an unintentional career in PR when I landed a paid internship with Paramount Pictures promoting feature film releases on Boston and Cambridge college campuses. Every fall, I still long for New England.
After college I began to further explore poetry and screenwriting. I lived in Manhattan for a few months and worked the poetry open mic scene. In 1993, I moved to Los Angeles where virtually every one of my college friends was working in the film business. I held jobs as a publicist and as a story analyst for film companies including Spelling Films International, Turner Pictures and Red Wagon Productions at Tri Star where my job was to accept or reject screenplays for producers and executives. In Los Angeles a spiritual chapter began and I lived in the Dharma Zen Center with other dedicated students alongside monks.
I returned to Austin in 1996 and moved into the guesthouse of Liz Carpenter, author and former Press Secretary to Lady Bird Johnson and Special Assistant to LBJ. She became my mentor, my friend and the woman who truly taught me what it takes to commit to being a writer. I also held positions including working as a freelance writer and acting as the publicist for the Texas Book Festival and the Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
I have had articles published in Austin Woman Magazine, Austin Monthly, Austin All Natural and PR Week. My professional antics have also been featured in the pages of the Austin Chronicle and the Austin Business Journal.