Q&A With Christina Hoag
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Q&A With Christina Hoag
Tonight I have the pleasure of doing a Q&A with author Christina Hoag. Some of Christina’s novels that she’s written are “Skin of Tattoos,” “Girl on the Brink”, “Law of the Jungle”, and “The Blood Room”. Christina’s amazon bio tells of a very interesting life of her own. As a journalist, Christina Hoag had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, was suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hid under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, and posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail. She’s interviewed gang members, bank robbers, gunmen, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Now she writes about such characters in her fiction.
Her noir crime novel “Skin of Tattoos” was a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her thriller “Girl on the Brink” was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also co-authored “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” a groundbreaking book on violence intervention used in several universities.
Born in New Zealand, Christina grew up as an expat around the world. She resides in Los Angeles and teaches creative writing at a maximum-security prison. She has also mentored at-risk teen girls in creative writing in South and East Los Angeles. She has been a speaker at numerous writers’ conferences and groups, bookstores, and libraries. Find her on the web at www.christinahoag.com; https://facebook.com/ChristinaHoagAuthor
https://twitter.com/ChristinaHoag and https://www.instagram.com/ChristinaHoagAuthor
Q: So Christina, when did you realize that your calling was to be an author?
A: I actually won a little prize when I was in first grade for “writing interesting stories” so I think it’s something that has always been with me, that I was born with. I was a total bookworm as a kid so naturally I wanted to grow up and write books. I got more into creative writing and journalism in high school so I became a journalist first and author second.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to pursue writing as a career?
A: Write for the love of writing. Chances are you won’t make a ton of money out of writing, win big prizes and so on (although of course you might!), but write because you have to, because that’s the way you express yourself best. There are many different types of writing to pursue as a career, also.
Q: What’s your advice to anyone who struggles with writer’s block?
A: A couple of things. One is simply to get up from the computer and take a short break. I often find that things come to me when I‘m standing waiting for the coffee to brew! Another is never to write yourself out in one sitting. Save something for the next day so when you sit down at the computer again you know where you’re going, you have something to plunge into and then the new material will flow on from that. If you’ve having trouble getting started, write anything that comes to you whether it’s journaling, snippets about people you might observe or meet, random thoughts. Anything to get yourself going, establish the habit and the discipline of writing.
Q: Your personal life from what I read in your amazon bio was pretty wild and exciting and perhaps terrifying at times. Out of all your experiences, which ones scared you the most? I know I wouldn’t have the guts to pose as a nun to get into a prison in Caracas, Venezuela.
A: That was a pretty harrowing experience! Toward the end of the visit, a prisoner realized I was asking a lot of questions and asked if I was a journalist. I had to reassure him that I was a nun. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if he hadn’t bought the story. I wasn’t wearing a habit, but I went in with a real nun who said that would be how I could get in and talk to the prisoners. Soon after that exchange with the suspicious prisoner, I told the nun I was ready to leave and we left. I don’t know why the prisoners did not want the media access. Usually, they want to talk to the press to expose conditions etc. I can only think they didn’t want the media to expose the gangs that were really in control of the jail, not the guards. But yes, that was my scariest assignment.
Q: What’s it like teaching creative writing at a maximum security prison?
A: It was a really rewarding experience. The men were truly appreciative that I went in there. They liked writing about their own lives, which I felt really helped them to examine the trauma and other factors that led to their disastrous choices. It’s actually been found through studies that writing about trauma helps a person recover faster and in a more enduring way so I encouraged them to write about the hard stuff. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so, what is it about?
A: I’m currently working on an essay collection, sort of a memoir in essays, about growing up all over the world and my experiences abroad. I’ve almost got a good draft down. I’ve also got a mystery novel that needs a rewrite. It’s about a true crime podcaster investigating a murder that also enables her to solve a trauma from her own past.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: Not yet, so if a producer is reading this, feel free to reach out!