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Friday, June 7, 2013
Author Beth Hoffman Visits And A Giveaway
I am delighted to welcome author Beth Hoffman here today to talk about her new release, LOOKING FOR ME.
This is a charming story that will tug at your heartstrings. Thanks to Beth and Catherine at Penguin, I have a print copy to offer as a giveaway. Please see the send of the post for the details.
Here’s a brief synopsis: Teddi Overman leaves her hardscrabble Kentucky farm life behind at the age of eighteen, running away in the middle of the night and leaving only a letter for each member of her family. In Charleston, South Carolina, Teddi builds a new life for herself as an antiques dealer with the help of a quirky group of new friends.
But each time Teddi, now thirty-six years old, leaves her antiques shop and visits the farm of her youth, she’s drawn to the mysterious beauty of Red River Gorge, where her brother went missing at the age of seventeen. Though long believed to be dead, signs of Josh begin appearing in the woods near the family farm, drawing Teddi back home again.
Beth has graciously answered some questions about her book and her writing.
After the success of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT, how did you come up with the idea for LOOKING FOR ME? Beth: When I finished touring with CeeCee, I had no idea what I would write. The characters had become so real to me that I felt guilty abandoning them to craft a different story. I especially had a hard time not continuing on with Oletta. For several months I shut down all thoughts about writing.
One day I sat at my desk and began going through stacks of old photographs. The more I sorted, the more I thought about my family and my childhood on the farm—how simple and uncomplicated life was, how much I missed the big old barn and the woodlands that backed up to the fields. I stared out the window and spent a good deal of time reliving those days, and while I was caught up in the nostalgia, something flashed in my periphery. I turned to see a red-tailed hawk land on a tree branch. I watched the morning light glaze across his pale chest, and how, just before he settled, he spread his rusty-red tail feathers to reveal the full spectrum of his regalia. I got a bit teary at the beauty of him, and then …WHAM! I had the beginning of my story.
You always write so beautifully about your novels’ settings, making the reader feel like they’re being transported to another place. With LOOKING FOR ME, did you decide on the location of the novel—Charleston—first, or did that come later? Did you spend a lot of time there?
Beth: I write about places I love, places to which I feel a deep connection. I wanted to write about a farm family, and when the character of Teddi took form and she fell in love with the process of antique restoration, I knew Charleston was where she would ultimately end up. I’ve spent a great deal of time in Charleston and feel incredibly comfortable there. In many ways it’s like a second home to me. Plus, with Charleston’s history of antiques shops and gorgeous architecture, it was the ideal juxtaposition to Teddi’s life on the farm.
You write very personally about the novel’s other main setting, the Overman farm in Kentucky. Being a Kentuckian yourself, do you have a strong connection to Red River Gorge? Beth: The Overman farm comes from my roots and my heart. Nothing makes me happier or causes a flood of memories like setting my feet on farmland. I chose the location of Red River Gorge as the backdrop to the farm for many reasons—its mystery and power are palpable, and it’s so stunning that no matter how many times I’m there, I’m always awestruck.
Known for its incredible rock formations, dense forests, waterfalls and wildlife, Red River Gorge was the perfect place for the character of Josh to be swept into the romance of the wild. Paleo-Indians thrived there, and it holds a treasure trove of petroglyphs. Every time I ride the gondola up to Natural Bridge and stand on that massive, nine hundred ton sandstone bridge, I feel connected to something far beyond my comprehension. Over 70 million years of changing weather has sculpted Red River Gorge into a place as magical as it is eerie.
LOOKING FOR ME touches on the power of objects—through them we remember our past and face our future—what are some objects that have held meaning for you in your own life? Do you think it’s important to hold onto the things of our past?
Beth: By nature I’m a neat-nut and about as opposite to a hoarder as anyone could be, so I’m not inclined to keep things unless they truly have strong meaning to me. I do think it’s wise to keep things that hold memories like family heirlooms, books, photographs and letters, but there’s a fine line between keeping what is precious or sentimental, and overloading my basement and attic with stuff.
The characters in LOOKING FOR ME seem as real as neighbors that live next door—what do you draw on when writing characters? How much do you borrow from real life? Do you model your characters on people you know?
Beth: The characters in my novels arrive in my imagination fully realized. Not only do I see them and hear them, but I also get a strong sense of their spirit. While a few characters might have small similarities to people I’ve known, the majority of them have come to me as the story unfolds. More often than not, I meet them just as my readers meet them. It’s a fascinating process.
Birds and feathers play an important role in this story—where did your interest in birds come from, and what do they symbolize in your work?
Beth: Nature, animals and birds have enthralled me for all my life. My parents and grandparents had a deep respect for nature and all her creatures, and from a very early age I was taught to be gentle and kind. One of my first memories is of standing in the vegetable garden with my grandma and having her show me how to gently lift a toad and move him out of the way of the strawberry wagon.
By the time I was five, I could name nearly every bird that visited our farm, not only by sight, but also by their songs. I viewed birds as beautiful messengers, and as a teen, I loved reading Native American folklore, which is rich with stories about birds and their spirits.
This is your second novel—what advice do you have for writers and novelists just starting out? How did you find your own voice as a novelist?
Beth: Captivating storytelling is a gift—good writing is an art. By understanding how to combine those elements, a writer can save themselves from a whole lot of headaches. There are many books that can help a writer hone their talent, but voice comes from a deep place and cannot be discovered without having an inner ear. I say inner ear because writers must hear their voice come alive and rise from the page, and it must always ring true.
Being a good listener helps a writer find his/her voice. By tuning our inner ear to catch voice inflections, mood, and the many subtleties of dialect, our own writing voice is strengthened. I believe the best way for a writer to know if they’ve found their unique voice is for them read aloud something they’ve written. Voice is a complex thing to achieve, but once a writer hears it, they’ll know that they’ve just captured the most illusive butterfly of all.
Beth, thank you for visiting and sharing a behind-the-scenes look at Teddi and LOOKING FOR ME. I can say your love of birds and nature comes through beautifully in this story.
For those who haven’t meet Beth before, she was the president and co-owner of an interior design studio before becoming a full-time writer. LOOKING FOR ME is her second novel.
She lives with her husband and two cats in northern Kentucky.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS: To enter this giveaway, please send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line, “Win Looking For Me.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of LOOKING FOR ME is 8 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, June 13.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy books that brings nature into your reading area or places you in the midst of the forest?
Hi, I'm Mason Canyon and I love reading and that is why I do reviews. I post them here, as well as several other sites such as Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you are an author who would like for me to review your book or you would like to guest blog here, please contact me at email@example.com These reviews are done for the love of a good book, not for monetary rewards.