Today I interview a lady who brings a triple threat of creativity: writer, artist and illustrator. It never fails to amaze me at the endless talent and creativity of the warriors that I interview on this blog every week. Tina Hoggatt is another of these super-talented ladies. She has not allowed bias or criticism to encroach on her dreams, instead she forges on ahead. Having had a successful career in Art she has recently gotten back to her original creative dream: writing. She has also managed to meld together these two creative pursuits in the guise of an illustrator. She has kindly allowed me to include a few illustrations here in this interview for your enjoyment. Without giving too much away, I will allow Tina to do the talking for herself. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as Tina and I sit down for a one-on-one chat.
Welcome Tina Hoggatt….
girl with a quill: Ernest Hemingway famously wrote a six-word story. Tell us a bit about yourself in 6 words. Who is Tina Hoggatt?
Tina: Seriously fun, loves words and pictures.
girl with a quill: When did you decide that you wanted to be a Writer?
Tina: Early on – I didn’t make novels as a child but I did write stories and was fairly clear about it as an identity by the time I was eleven or so.
girl with a quill:How long have you been writing for?
Tina: I was committed as a writer in middle school and had a writing group with a few girlfriends but was discouraged by a mentor at thirteen. This had sexist overtones (‘there are no truly famous women writers; only men are serious writers’ etc ) which I knew were both wrong and incorrect but at the time I lived in between two happily married women painters so I thought I’d pursue art. Who needed the grief? I wrote in my twenties and then committed to an art career, which actually worked, but I have come back to writing in the last five years or so and have been very focused for the past few years.
girl with a quill: Besides writing, what are your other passions / hobbies?
Tina: I make paintings and prints and have been working in porcelain enamel on steel recently, which I adore. I have a letterpress shop in my studio and don’t use it enough.
girl with a quill: Who or what is the greatest influence on you as a writer? and Why?
Tina: The greatest influence on me as a writer were my parents being who read to their children twice a day for the whole of my youth. From this I learned that there needed to be music in the language and that story was king.
girl with a quill: If your life story were a novel, what genre would it be and what would be the story-arc up to this point?
Tina: Contemporary fiction. Late bloomer finds husband and confidence, experiences setbacks and family turmoil, emerges in midlife with clarity and urgency to kick some serious ass.
girl with a quill: Tell us about the place that you write? What do you fill that space with?
Tina: I have two office spaces and a studio and mostly sit at the kitchen table when I write so I can watch the birds at the feeders and see the garden. I also write every day on the bus during my commute.
girl with a quill: Tell us about your writing process from that magical moment when the story’s idea / character voice interrupts your thoughts…what happens next?
Tina: I often see a scene, a character in a place with some very simple action. I may write a page or so that becomes the nut of a story. I’ll write a huge hunk of it, then finesse the plot.
girl with a quill: Are you a plotter, a pantster or a little of both?
Tina: I come from an honest pantser background and have been dragged into plotting, at which I frankly suck. But I’m working on it. Plotting is a time saver and time is what I don’t have enough of.
girl with a quill: What genre do you write in and why?
Tina: I write YA and MG and have created illustrated books. In adolescence crossroads are reached that force a choice about both action and character – defining moments. These happen with much more frequency than in adulthood, at a time when emotions run high. I’m interested in exploring those points and in speaking to them for the reader.
girl with a quill: We all have little habits and quirks that make us individual.
What are your bad habits in writing? What are your strengths in writing?
- I have a tendency toward complication and complexity that can get in the way of fluid storytelling.
- My visual training and art practice make me a good observer. I think this comes out in the writing. Also I’m pretty good with dialogue and its integration.
girl with a quill: If you could try your pen at another genre, which genre would you choose?
girl with a quill: Can you tell us a bit about the book/s you have written?
Tina: I have contributed essays to two books edited and published by fine letterpress printer Jules Remedios Faye, The Ladies Printing Bee and Fallen Angels. What is the Panda to You? an artists’ book in a tiny edition was a collaboration with artist Jeffry Mitchell. I wrote the text, printed the book and collaborated on illustration. I’ve made several other similar editions as well.
I’ve illustrated several books for mainstream publishers, My Jim by Nancy Rawles and Home Field, a collection of essays on baseball edited by John Marshall. I also have some manuscripts moldering in virtual space.
girl with a quill: What is your best sentence you have written?
Tina: Gray and quick and flipper slick, here and gone – yoohoo!
Is it the best? Maybe not, but fun.
girl with a quill: Are you working on any WIP now? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Tina: I’m working on Clickstream, a YA book I’m calling contemporary para-scifi. Boy recovering from the death of his brother is visited by the ghost of his dead dog and a shimmering particle stream of a naked girl from the future, discovering that his brother’s essence has been preserved in an experimental chip developed by his dad, who is working to retrieve him. Complications ensue. It’s about bringing back the dead, bicycles, friendship, comic books and love. Also it’s funny.
girl with a quill: First drafts are for the writers themselves. Who reads your work after you?
Tina: I work on my first drafts with two writing groups in real life and one online group. These are my beta readers for finished work. Also, my mom is an invaluable reader.
girl with a quill: Why do you write?
Tina: At this point it’s a practice, and without a creative practice I turn into a real creep.
girl with a quill: Do you have a common theme or Omni-Premise that threads its way through all your writing? If so, what is it?
Tina: Despite life’s emotional hardships there is friendship, unexpected wonder and joy to be had in this life.
girl with a quill: Do you believe in Muses? If you do, who/what is your Muse?
Tina: My muse is a donkey whose tail I hold as it leads me through a darkened room. Sometimes I bump into the furniture. Sometimes I get a glimpse into another room.
girl with a quill: If you found a golden lamp with a genie and he told you he could either make one of your stories come true or that you could become a character for a short time in another author’s book, which option would you choose and why?
Tina: It has to be a character in another author’s book, to spend time with people I have come to know and love, and see their places.
girl with a quill: What is more important to you: Story or Character? Why?
Tina: My writing is character driven, but without story there is no sustained engagement. I’ve proven this, actually, to my chagrin.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?
Tina: Right now I’m very fond of the ghost of a dog named Gus who is taking time out from a pleasant afterlife to help out a messed up boy here on earth.
girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?
Tina: Mary Russell, from the genius mind of Laurie R. King. Scholar, sleuth and wife to Sherlock Holmes – who is no slouch himself.
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?
Tina: It’s a dinner party, right? There has to be synergy. Mark Twain for sure – he was funny, told fabulous stories and always wore a white suit – at least in his later years. So right there you have a keystone. He’s going to have to smoke outside though. I’ve been in love with Myrna Loy my whole life and Twain would love her brains and sass, as well as her legs – so Myrna’s next to Twain. I’d invite Dorothy Parker but she was a mean drunk and you know there will be drinking. Julia Child’s in the kitchen. She makes great conversation and she’ll sit at that end of the table so she can check the miracle sauce at regular intervals. This dinner will need a poet and a fabulist. Pablo Neruda may feel a little shy at first but he’ll warm to the northerners, and he can recite for us in Spanish. And I think Joan Baez would round out the table nicely. She’ll put everyone at ease and tell surprisingly funny anecdotes, imitate Bob Dylan and lead the singing after dessert.
girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?
Tina: All sleuth dinner: Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew (I wanted to be her), Yashim the eunuch and Maisie Dobbs.
girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.
girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?
Tina: Don’t quit, it’s a waste of time and talent.
girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?
Tina: The first book you reach for on the bookshelf of a summer cabin.
girl with a quill: Where can we find your book/s for sale?
Tina: You’ll have to wait for a year or two.
girl with a quill: Finally where can we find on the web?
Tina: My blog: http://tinahoggatt.wordpress.com/
My website: http://tinahoggatt.com/