Tag Archives: dark fantasy

Author Interview: Lisa Hofmann

Author Lisa Hofmann is a planner, and she loves doing on-site research, taking her children to every castle within driving distance to spend hours exploring the grounds, embarrassing their family at any given moment whenever taking a guided tour, because she’s the woman who’s always got just one more question for the guide.  Please give her a warm welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Lisa HofmannHi, I’m Lisa Hofmann. I’m 43 years old, married, and a mother of three with a houseful of pets. I was educated in Germany and in Ireland, which has certainly shaped who I am today.

By day, I’m an elementary school teacher who works with migrant children and refugees. At night, I turn into a rabid dark fantasy writer who survives on cappuccino and cheese snacks.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was still in school, but only seriously pursued it much, much later, when I was in my late thirties and discovered that I could actually do this on my own with no need of a publisher. I believe traditional publishing has its merits, but it’s not for someone like me who’s on a tight time-budget. I’m not a full-time writer. I work a lot of extra hours in my daytime job as a teacher, and I have three children who have my full attention. That means, I steal time to write whenever I can. I can’t imagine having meet tight deadlines for my novels or fulfill contracts for possible further books of a series within a certain time frame. I’d constantly feel pressured, and to me, writing is meant to be a pleasurable activity. It’s what I really love doing, and I’m my own boss in that area. I define my own standards, and I want to keep writing the books I myself would like to read, and not have to write to please an editor who’d like to see me change my content to suit someone else’s tastes. That’s why I always shied away from offering my work to traditional publishing houses, and I never looked for an agent. So far, I’m quite enjoying doing this my way, in my own time.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I started aimfully writing my first book, Stealing the Light. I loved the whole process or writing and publishing it. It felt right, and I knew immediately that this was something I was going to be doing for a long time to come.

Could you share a little about your current book with us?

My current work in progress is a third book of a series, titled “Gates of Eventide”. It’s being edited as we speak, and I’m very excited to get it out there. The series is about a community of outlaws with magical abilities who are hiding in plain sight, operating a fair that sells magical items and puts on shows. The Fair’s biggest problem is one of their own, so to speak – a woman with dangerous magical Talents who grew up outside the community, was rejected by it, and has gained a powerful position among the humans who are out to destroy the Unnaturals. I hope to release this third book in late summer, perhaps earlier, depending on how long the process of getting it ready with my editor and cover artist it will take.

The book I’ve most recently released is titled Trading Darkness. This is a stand-alone novel that’s set during the time of the witch trials in the late medieval period near my home town. Some of the events that I described in it are real, and a few of the characters as well. It was a lot of fun to research, and even more so to finally write it, since the initial idea for it was stewing for about twenty years, since my studies of local history.

What inspired you to write this book?

The series was an idea that arose from a piece of music I’d been listening to. I was talking to a friend one Saturday about it, and she encouraged me to pursue the thought. It was more a joke than something serious at the time, since we were playing around with characters from a TV series, discussing how so-and-so would handle a complete disaster like the one I was imagining for the storyline, and what such-and-such a person would do, but then I sat down and started making character charts for original characters and began outlining. The idea kept growing and getting bigger, and I suddenly found myself completely captivated.

The stand-alone novel is a book that I’ve been wanting to write ever since my time at university. I studied women’s history and I visited one of the sites where witches were executed in the course of a class I was taking on the witch trials. Standing on “Gallow’s Hill” sent shivers down my spine, and I remember thinking that life certainly writes the most fascinating stories.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The series title is the title of a piece by Mozart – Dies Irae, The Requiem. The idea of light and darkness was already in the first two book titles, so Gates of Eventide is a variation, basically, that tells the reader that we’re heading toward a place where shadows lie in wait.

Trading Darkness has to do with the bargain one of the main characters makes with the devil. He’s trading one darkness for another, but it’s a deal he’s going to regret for the rest of his life.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think my style is pretty much my own. I don’t try to imitate other writers, but I do read a lot of good books, so there are always bound to be traces of other author’s styles somewhere in what I’m doing. But I do think my voice is my own.

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

I think my style is pretty much my own. I don’t try to imitate other writers, but I do read a lot of books by great authors whose work I love and have been reading for decades, so there are always bound to be traces of those authors’ styles somewhere in what I’m doing. But I do think my voice is my own.

I find writing in my particular genre a bit of a challenge since it’s not strictly sword-and-sorcery or epic fantasy, but something that I would consider more “soft fantasy”, for lack of a better term. There is magic, and there are magical creatures, but the story is very much more character-driven than a typical sword-and-sorcery might be. I don’t do formula writing – I don’t write for a market of readers who would expect a storyline to develop a certain way per se. I write for readers who love intense characters and intense story development, rather than expect epic battles with dragon-riders and orcs on every other page of the book. My books have characters who are people of their time in a world parallel to ours, only with the premise that magic is a reality and not a superstition. There are real people’s conflicts in a medieval setting based on that premise, and there’s good and evil and every shade of gray in between.

What other authors have most influenced your life?

This is going to sound funny, but I read a lot of different kinds of things. I could name a lot of authors as having influenced my life and my writing. I think Stephen King would be one of them – but in contrast, I would also say Cornelia Funke. What I admire about King is his drive and how he’s managed to keep producing good books over a period of so many decades now. What I admire about Funke is her determination even in the face of personal tragedies, and her ability to evolve. She made a name for herself as an author of children’s books, but what she really is, is a very gifted fantasy writer for all ages. She’s proven that with her Reckless series.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Giuseppa Lo Coco designed the covers for the Dies Irae Series. She’s very talented, pleasant, and easy to work with, and she came up with the images to the words as if she was seeing what I was. That’s magical!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

In terms of the writing as such: practice your Art and stay humble. Writing is a craft that you need to hone and work hard to move toward as high a level as you can get. Plan what you’re doing, and rewrite and revise as often as necessary. I also believe it’s ever so important to work with professionals. Get in touch with a good editor, even if you’re thinking of having your work agented and publishing traditionally – polish your manuscript and make it the best you can before you put it in front of an agent or your readers.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for enjoying my books. Tell your friends about them and support indie authors by leaving an honest review, if possible. It’s what keeps us going.

Stealing the Light E-Book FINAL VERSIONLisa Hofmann
Siegen, Germany.


Stealing the Light 

Cover artist: Giusy Lo Coco


Author Interview: Chico Kidd

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Chico for consenting to be interviewed here on No Wasted Ink. As you can see, Chico has quite a catalog of titles to her name with many more to come on the horizon. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did.

Author Chico KiddI am Chico Kidd, author and artist, whose ghost and dark fantasy tales have been published in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. Over the last few years I’ve been busy with a sequence of novels and stories featuring Luís da Silva, ship’s captain and reluctant demon-hunter. Demon Weather, the first novel in the series, has recently been published by Booktrope; the Portuguese-language rights have been bought by Lisbon-based Saída de Emergência. The next three novels, The Werewolf of Lisbon, Resurrection, and Sinned Against, are complete; a fifth is in progress. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 13 and Dark Terrors 6 featured three short stories between them. Others have appeared in Supernatural Tales, Acquainted with the Night, Poe’s Progeny, and elsewhere.

My first novel, The Printer’s Devil, came out in 1996 from Baen and was reprinted last year by Booktrope. It’s a tale in the classic English Ghost Story tradition of M.R. James, as were most of the stories in my first hardback anthology Summoning Knells (2000). I also write in collaboration with Australian author Rick Kennett, and our collection of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder stories No. 472 Cheyne Walk was published in 2002 (both Ash-Tree Press).

When and why did you begin writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember— by age 10 I was telling people that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Luckily everything I wrote prior to 1979 has vanished into the mists of time. Why, is also easy. I loved reading. I devoured books like a starving book-eating creature. I wanted more books like the ones I loved to read, and spent hours thinking up titles and storylines and designing the covers for them. The earliest thing I recall writing was one set in Narnia, and I also worked my apprenticeship by writing stories in imitation of authors as diverse as Dick Francis, P.G. Wodehouse and Tolkien. There are now many, many more influences on my writing!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Since 1979, when my first published story, An Incident in the City, appeared in the first issue of Rosemary Pardoe’s long-running Ghosts & Scholars series. I’ve had writing jobs ever since I graduated, from greeting-card verses to advertising, but don’t really think that counts. For quite a long time, I wrote only ghost stories, mostly in the tradition of M.R. James. They found modest homes in anthologies and in small press, to which I contributed seven collections of my own: Change & Decay, In & Out Of The Belfry, Bell Music, Bells Rung Backwards, Wraiths & Ringers, and Ghosts, Scholars, Campanologists & Others. Nearly all these stories went into Summoning Knells. And then I got writer’s block, which was completely horrible. And it was cured by Captain da Silva, who barged into a story from heaven knows where and took over my writing life.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Although Demon Weather is the first novel to feature the intrepid Captain, chronologically it is the 14th of the Da Silva Tales. The preceding stories do not need to be read to make sense of the novel! (Although I think readers might find it fun to find out more about some of the characters’ backstories.)
Luís da Silva is the captain of a barque, the Isabella, in the days when sail is in its long decline and steamships have more or less taken over the seas. He is rather more well acquainted with the night than he wants to be, but the powers that be have different ideas. (These are not the sort of powers that be that make prophecies and steer people towards destinies, but rather the kind that say to themselves “This fellow would be good at doing certain kinds of stuff, so let’s give him a nudge in the right direction,” or even just “Let’s give him some abilities that will make his life suck”.) As Riley Finn once said to Buffy, “It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.” And he also has a rather shady past, which in this case comes back to bite him in the shape of a not-at-all-nice sorcerer out for revenge.

Luckily the Captain has allies in the form of a Scooby Gang which includes a werewolf, a man who can fiddle with time, an English antiquarian, a bad-tempered witch and an almost-corporeal ghost, not to mention his very resourceful wife, Emilia, and a young son and daughter who are sometimes more hindrance than help.

What inspired you to write this book?

Well, as I mentioned, I’d had a bad case of writer’s block, but once the dam broke I found myself writing like crazy. I was averaging around 10,000 words a week for a while. And so I zipped though a ton of stories that were like episodes from a series, before coming face to face with an idea that was a lot more complicated and needed the length of a novel to do it justice. I wrote the thing in three months!

Inspiration covers a lot more than that, however. I am inspired by boats and the sea, by the way Joss Whedon blends horror and comedy, by inventing characters and exploring milieus, by the city of Lisbon, by folklore and legend and the sheer fun of writing.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I do, and Rick Kennett has dubbed it “Weird Noir”. It’s Chandleresque, basically, when the Captain is doing the narration. I use a mixture of tenses in the first-person bits, because it’s a mixture of his memories, his thoughts, his actions, and it all makes it more immediate: he’s telling you the story, but it’s happening now in his mind. But I also tell the story from multiple points of view, and try to get personality across by variations in style. I sometimes make use of a version of José Saramago’s style (not many full stops, bit stream-of-consciousness-y). Harris the werewolf’s thoughts are a big part of his personality. There are a few bits of omniscient-narrator stuff where I need to describe something outside of everyone’s experience. It’s all kind of a mixture, I think it’s quite cinematic, with jump-cuts and voice-overs and zooming out and in.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

That’s kind of interesting. I’m usually good with titles, and they often come before I write the story— sometimes a title actually triggers the story. But it wasn’t till about halfway through Demon Weather that I settled on that title. It was called Hunting Souls up to then.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Whoa, no! I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t count demon-slayers, werewolves or even ship’s captains among my acquaintances. Much of the Captain comes from me, I guess, in terms of philosophy at least. But I don’t agree with that old truism “Write about what you know”. If everyone did that, there would be no fantasy or SF at all!

What authors have most influenced your life?

My life? No. My style, most certainly. But I love certain authors without wanting to use anything of theirs: Terry Pratchett, for instance, Ursula Le Guin, Elizabeth Moon, John Connolly. I suppose I have to say that Joss Whedon is the single most obvious influence on the DaSilvaverse, with my diverse gang of supernatural-evil battlers and the mix of action, horror, humor and characters you care about (I hope!) But I am a magpie, I pick up shiny things from all over the place, books, movies, TV, tradition, history, art, my own travels…

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

No, I can’t say that there is. I am terrible at following examples, instructions or rules, I don’t idolize any writers, although I do admire a good many. My real-life heroes are people like Aung San Suu Kyi and the late war correspondent Marie Colvin.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

*coughs modestly* I did it myself. One of the first things I do when I have a character who I know will be with me for a while is draw their face. It’s a shortcut to getting inside their skin, until I get used to them.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write what you enjoy. Get inside the skins of your characters. Never stop writing, and don’t be afraid to run with the story.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Welcome to my world— I hope you enjoy the ride!

Demon Weather Book CoverChico Kidd
London, England

Chico Kidd’s ghost stories have been published in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and continental Europe. Chico was born in Nottingham, England, and now lives, writes and paints near London.

Demon Weather is published by Booktrope.