Interview with 2015 Genre-Based Winner Vanessa Leigh Hoffman.
Hoffman’s Treasure was the winner of the genre-based category at the
2015 Hollywood Book Festival.
The awards were held in July at the Hollywood
Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, CA.
BOOK FESTIVAL: Tell us a little about your writing background.
When/where did you get started? What motivated you to write the book?
HOFFMAN: I started writing short stories when I was nine years
old in Memphis, Tennessee. I moved to Scottsdale. Az. for one year
when I was fourteen and had my first sport-star interview with New
York Yankees second string short stop, Fred Stanley.
It was published in a small local
newspaper in Memphis. I also studied journalism in high school, while I
lived in Scottsdale. The next year I began my musical career, when I
moved back to Memphis, with some great musicians who were all in high
I was so fortunate, learned so much, and
had a great time playing music with those talented guys who later became
somewhat well-known in Europe and in the states, as they were offered
record and concert contracts.
This was really where my writing started,
writing songs. I must have written over 100 songs, most were recorded
in a demo studio. I loved writing the story lines for the songs. I
wrote the music as well, but loved the story of the song more. I was
involved in the travel industry later on, where I wrote travel articles
of some of my favorite destinations in the Caribbean, and I wrote many
papers in Spanish and German for my BA degree and many an educational
paper for my graduate school classes at the University of Memphis. I
even wrote a mid-term paper for my broadcasting class on CNN.
I interviewed John Holliman, who covered
the first Gulf War, on the telephone. I was beside myself that I got
the interview with such a then current celebrity. It was soon after
picked up by a local newspaper where I wrote a tribute to my recently
deceased father. I taught for fifteen years after college graduation,
pre K-university level language classes.
I even taught writing on a job corp.
campus during this time. It was not until I met a gentleman at the pier
in St. Petersburg who told me lie after lie, as I found out later, and
had such a vivid imagination with the stories he concocted, that I
decided to write a story using some of his characters that he had made
up. I expounded on them, created an enhanced story, then another, then
another. Before he died, I told him that I was writing a book which was
influenced by his character, and that I would get it published.
Usually very negative and unhopeful, he
said, "I know you will." I was shocked. Later on, I found out that he
had been a master chef for the Kennedy family. He never told me about
HBF: Why did you announce it as a trilogy?
HOFFMAN: I was with a small publishing company who put out the first of
the trilogy, "Rear View Mirror". I was having a book signing in
Pensacola, Florida when I decided to add some more to the book. I had
other plots in my mind to go along with the first book plot.
I stayed five nights at a hotel
there, with my dog and plenty of food for us, and I wrote the second
story in the trilogy. I seem to think that I had this plot in my
subconscious, as it just kind of flowed, then rolled out.
The third story in the trilogy I wrote
facing a wall in my small house on the waterway in St. Pete Beach, where
I had always dreamed of writing outside, looking out at the water. I
did not need to, or even want to do this, because the characters in this
book were so vivid and intriguing.
I decided to place the whole trilogy in
one novel, not three separate short books. Where one story ends, the
other begins. This way, the reader would not have to wait, thus
forgetting the ending of the previous saga.
HBF: The plot is unusual in that it combines the Irish mafia with
jihadists. Tell us a little more about its genesis and your development
of the story.
HOFFMAN: I always think of acquisition of power as being one of the
most enticing things for many individuals, so I just wrote as I
perceived it. World-wide egos abound and always have. It is not
far-fetched to believe that one or more of these egocentric-powered men
could be in cahoots with other illegal and illicit organizations, while
being deceitful and revengeful at the same time. In fiction, a writer
can assume anything as real.
HBF: How did your interest in foreign languages play a role in
HOFFMAN: I love travel and learning about different cultures, as
well as communicating with foreigners in their own language. The latter
is so challenging and fun to me. I always try to include at least one
foreign language phrase in each of my books. I love linguistics and
especially love learning about how roots of foreign words can give away
Foreign languages have always been
enchanting and magical to me, and their countries and cultures so
interesting and fascinating. I like to include some of this enchanting
intrigue to make an engrossing read.
HBF: Tell us about Ty. Any role models for his character?
HOFFMAN: I have come in contact with so many "Ty's" in my
lifetime that I just had to put his character into a book. Growing up
in the heart of "Dixie" with Cotton Carnivals, fancy engagement, wedding
and baby shower parties, sororities and fraternities, and political
bosses as mayors, I was always exposed to power-hungry men, who were
bathed in charm and etiquette, in addition to complete deception, lust
and greed, such as Ty's character.
Moreover, the ethnic background of many
people in the Mid-South back then was Irish, such as Ty's character.
HBF: You're also working on some non-fiction? Tell us about that.
HOFFMAN: I have a non-fiction book, scheduled to be out next
year, entitled "Stefie and Mommy". This is a narrative of my life and
all of the decisions that proceeded the actual adoption.
Then, it takes an intimate look into life
as an adopted child and adoptive parent and all of the trials and
tribulations that are encountered on a day to day basis while on the
road to true love, as we both become incorporated into actual society.
It is a very enlightening, revealing, and
HBF: What's next for your promotion of "Treasure?"
HOFFMAN: I have twenty interviews scheduled for live-air on the
morning of October 16, from 7 to 12. These interviews will be on major
radio stations around the country in large population grids. I have
book-signings in Florida through February 2016.
Check out my blog on my website www.vanessaleighhoffman.com for
HBF: You have an adopted daughter and adoption plays a key role
in the story. Did you ask yourself many of the same questions when
creating the characters as you did when you went through the process
HOFFMAN: Actually, my first book was already published and
marketed before I began my adoption. The book was out in 2008, and my
adoption was finalized in 2012. My child was four when I began the
process and five when she became my daughter and came to the states
to become a citizen.
In "Rear View Mirror", I created twin
brothers that took the place of split personalities that my elderly
friend possessed. I then began to concoct a plot, using these
distinctive elements in each of the two personas. These elements became
strategic for what was to come throughout my trilogy.