Monday, December 12, 2016

Q&A with Christina Hoag

It's Raining Books welcomes author Christina Hoag. Christina 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.

Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

I like to write gritty, edgy thrillers with a splash of romance. I like plots that move, but I also really like good literary-style writing so I try to combine the two. I also really like international settings because you learn about another place and culture. I think that adds an extra element of spice.

What research is required?

Having been a journalist, I’ve done a lot of research already into my worlds because a lot of I wrote about as a reporter inspires my fiction. I still need to do tons of research into details, though. I google stuff all the time. I also find YouTube videos particularly useful to really get a good sense of place or how to do random things my characters do, like connect a semi trailer container to a truck cab or how a van equipped for disabled drivers works.

Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

Resiliency. My characters go through a lot in their lives, but they come through it all changed for the better. They’re tough. They keep going and don’t break down. They overcome their fears by confronting them and afterward, they find it wasn’t as bad as they feared. I’ve learned all that from them.

Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I sit in this weird way with one leg folded to the side and the other leg crossed over it, angled to the other side so basically my legs are going in opposite directions. It looks odd and I’m sure n ergonomic secialist would have a heart attack but I find it very comfortable!

Plotter or pantser?

A bit of both. I like to know where I’m going so I have a loose outline. I’ve found knowing your ending from the getgo really helps to avoid writing yourself into corners, or into a wall. That said, I change stuff as I go all the time. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. Sometimes I do detailed mini-outlines covering just the next chapter or two. It also helps to get you started when you sit down at the computer every day so you avoid wasting time wondering what comes next. It’s really a long, painstaking process, no doubt about it.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

I’ve got four notebooks on my desk. One is where I make my to-do lists and jot down things to remembers, like blogs to check out. Another is where I note literary things, like metaphors and similes as I think of them, names I like for possible characters, ideas. The third is specifically for the detective novel I’m working on. I write down specific technical questions I need to ask a cop source. And a fourth is a small one that I take to conferences, workshops, any writerly gathering to I write down things of interest. This answer has made me realize how obsessed I am with writing stuff down!

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I’m working on a mystery novel with a police detective as the crime-solving heroine. It’s set in Los Angeles and has an important Latin American angle to it, as well. I don’t want to give too many details just yet as I’m still working it all out.

Do you have a question for our readers?

What element draws you most to a book- the cover, the back jacket blurb, Amazon/Goodreads reviews, the title, previous works by the author or something else?

When your best friends are your worst enemies.

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.

Available in ebook and paperback on Amazon:

Sometimes the one you love isn’t the one you’re meant to be with.

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.

Girl on the Brink is available from:

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1 comment:

So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?