AUTHOR INTERVIEW – Christina Hoag
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INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
What initially got you interested in writing?
I won a prize for “writing interesting stories” when I was six years old so I guess writing was always there. It came out as soon as I literally learned how to put pen to paper. I discovered journalism in high school so I knew that’s what I wanted to do as a career. I’ve written fiction on and off my whole life.
What genres do you write in?
I write gritty, realistic crime fiction: thriller, mystery suspense, but I like to develop character-driven stories in these genres. A lot of work in these genres is very formulaic, which gets boring after a while, so I’m about incorporating more character into these types of plots. I also have a YA romantic thriller out, which is about teen dating violence. That was sort of a one-off for me, as I like to write adult fiction.
What drew you to writing these specific genres?
I love delving into the seamy side of life and what drives people in that world, which is very different than mine! I like to see how extraordinary events, which often happen in the context of crime, affect character so that’s what I write. In the case of the YA, “Girl on the Brink,” it was more of a personal thing for me.
How did you break into the field?
It really took a long time. I started writing short stories and sending them out to literary journals. There are tons of them online these days. I also wrote poetry and creative nonfiction essays. I got them all published. Besides building a portfolio, the process got me used to submitting, being rejected and being persistent. Then I started writing a novel. I still haven’t finished that first novel, but I will! It’s undergone numerous rewrites. “Skin of Tattoos, my recently released thriller, is my second novel and “Girl on the Brink,” my third.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
I have social messages in all my books. The two I have out now are about making bad decisions and learning and recovering from them, and translating that into hope for the future. I want my stories to be different enough to be memorable.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I love creating worlds and characters, but I also love writing itself: the lyricism of language, ordering words and sentences, coming up with metaphors. I’ve always loved writing anything, from a corporate report to speeches to fiction.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Just the amount of time it takes to complete a novel! They are huge, unwieldy projects. Both my published novels have taken years to finish. Not only do novels require numerous rewrites, but you have also to let them sit for a while so you can come back to them with a fresh eye and see what needs fixing, and do yet another rewrite! I wish there was a way to speed up the process.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
Believe in yourself and that you have something worthwhile to say. Don’t let anyone steer you from your path. Develop a thick skin to deal with rejection, later, bad reviews! And most importantly, just don’t give up.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
Besides crime-oriented stuff, I love what is known as “upscale women’s fiction,” a cross between literary and commercial, books where things actually happen but have a literary writing style. I’m also drawn to books with foreign settings. I always learn something when books are set in other countries and cultures.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I came to the United States when I was 13 years old. I lived in six other countries growing up: New Zealand, where I was born, Fiji, England, Sweden, Nigeria and Australia. As an adult, I’ve lived in Spain, Guatemala and Venezuela. I’m a total nomad. Travel is my second passion after writing, and I’ve travelled all over the world.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
My website, www.christinahoag.com, has the most information about me and a contact form. Facebook.com/ChristinaHoagAuthor is where I post updates, and I’m on Twitter @ChristinaHoag. Any of the above works!
ABOUT THE BOOKS
SKIN OF TATTOOS
Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mags’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge and respect pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice of everything – and everyone – he loves.
GIRL ON THE BRINK
The summer before senior year, Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect. But her efforts backfire, and Kieran turns violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, August 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She lives in Los Angeles.