This should have been taking place last Friday but, due to unforeseen circumstances, had to be postponed so I am socialising two nights on the trot and I am delighted to welcome to this special edition of Saturday Night Drinks, author…..Christina Hoag.
Hi Christina. So sorry for having to delay our evening, thank you for joining me on a Saturday. First things first, what are you drinking?
Thanks, Julie. I’ll have a glass of sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, my favourite wine. I may be a little biased as I was born there but I do love the wine.
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I live in Santa Monica, which is right on the coast of California near Los Angeles, so I’d take you to the Hotel Shangri La, which has a rooftop bar with a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean. We’d go for happy hour to see the sunset.
That looks beautiful, I will imagine being there now. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
I’m a bit of a Shakespeare nut so I’d love to invite the Bard and ask him about his inspiration and writing process. I’d also bring along Margaret Mead, the anthropologist who studied human behavior: how much is innate and how much is socially induced. I think she’d be fascinating.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I had a bunch of exciting things lined up, including appearances at book and literary festivals, but thanks to Covid-19, but they’ve all been cancelled. I was also awarded a writers’ residency on Jersey for a week but that had to be cancelled as well. I’m hoping to do the residency later in the autumn, and one of the book festivals is supposed to take place in October so crossing fingers they’re not lost altogether. In the meantime, I’m trying to stay on track with my writing and building readership.
It is very difficult in present circumstances when everything seems to be on pause, let’s hope life can resume as near to normal as possible soon. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?
I had two literary agents on my novel Skin of Tattoos (different versions) so seeing my manuscript submitted to top New York publishers and getting praise from their editors led to some over-the-moon moments. (Despite the praise, they all passed on my book, which I finally got published through a small press.)
My biggest challenge was knowing what to write after I finished my two novels. I really floundered because now I knew how unbelievably hard it is to get readers, sell a book, etc. and that really daunted me. I just didn’t know what to write.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
I’d love to have a book adapted either for film or TV and be involved in writing/producing that. I’d really to love to win an Oscar, have a bestseller or a big literary award. (You said ambitious!)
What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I’m working on a standalone mystery novel which involves a true crime podcast and a young woman coming to terms with her past. I’m still on the first draft but it’s coming along really well. I feel the best about this than anything I’ve tried since my books were published in 2016.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
I love to travel, too. I’ve been to more than 70 countries. Some that are high on my list are Mongolia, Tibet, India and Greece. I love going to places that are exotic or remote or both! I also like making what I call “literary pilgrimages,” visiting places where famous writers lived or worked. That’s always fun.
That is impressive, I am jealous! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
I’ve lived in 10 countries! I grew up in seven countries due to my dad’s job as a mining engineer (New Zealand, Fiji, Sweden, UK, Nigeria, Australia and USA) and lived in three others as an adult (Spain, Guatemala, Venezuela).
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
I can only choose one? Hmmm. That’s tough. Well, as far as contemporary reads, I absolutely loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I read it for my book club. It was so well written, and I just loved the quirky, weird Eleanor. I really felt for her. Brilliant book.
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than…. fine?
I loved this book too. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
I drink a ton of water before going to bed and take aspirin to try to ward off waking up with a headache. The water is really key!
I absolutely agree! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
I’d spend the next day lounging by a pool somewhere sunny and doing nothing but reading and drinking tropical fruit drinks with little umbrellas in them!
Christine, thank you so much for taking the trouble to chat with me, this has been fascinating and well worth waiting for!
Christina’s literary novel, Skin of Tattoos and her YA novel, Girl on the Brink are both out now and you can buy them by following the links.
The summer before senior year, 17-year-old 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 becomes 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.
Christina Hoag is a novelist and journalist based in Los Angeles, California.
She is the author of literary noir-thriller Skin of Tattoos (Martin Brown, 2016) and YA romantic thriller Girl on the Brink (Fire and Ice YA, 2016). She also writes non-fiction. She co-authored “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” (Turner Publishing, 2014) a groundbreaking book on gang intervention.
Christina was born in New Zealand of Kiwi and British parentage, and at the age of six, won a prize for “writing interesting stories.” That’s what she’s been doing ever since. She has had numerous short stories, poems and creative nonfiction published in literary magazines and journals. Her short story “My Mother’s Knives” was included in a horror story anthology, “And Now the Nightmare Begins” (Bear Manor Media, 2009.) Her short story “Life Stories” is forthcoming in the anthology “100 Voices” (Centum Press, 2016).
She is a former staff writer for The Miami Herald and the Associated Press, and other newspapers. Her career as a journalist took her to Latin America, where she reported from 14 countries in the region on issues such as the rise of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Colombian guerrillas, Guatemalan human rights, Salvadoran gangs, Nicaraguan landmine victims, and Mexican protests for Time, Business Week, The Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle,The New York Times, and other publications. She is fluent in Spanish.
A graduate of Boston University, she is the recipient of two writing awards from the New Jersey Press Association.
If you sign up for Christina’s (very infrequent) newsletter on her website, she’ll send you a code and link for a free audiobook on Audible of her Young Adult novel Girl on the Brink.
You can find out more about Christina and her work via her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Next Friday, I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by fabulous author and fellow RNA member…Sue Moorcroft, so please make sure you join us then.