Q&A with Beth Hoffman, author of Looking for Me

I’ve come to accept that life, like the vast woodlands that surround my childhood home, is layered with mysteries. . . . We sift and search and question as we try to discover our truths and the truths of those we love, and sometimes…a mystery we never knew existed gets solved…. ~ Teddi Overman in Looking for Me

One of the reasons I love writing is because I am so introspective by nature. Sometimes, too introspective. As Teddi Overman (the main character in Beth Hoffman’s new novel, Looking for Me) says, life is full of layers, so much to be discovered and uncovered. Layers of mysteries. For me, those mysteries come clear through writing.

LFM

For Teddi Overman, her passion for restoring old antiques drives her along her journey of self-discovery and healing. As a young woman, she leaves her family farm in Kentucky for downtown Charleston to pursue her love of antiques and restoring them back to life. While she is away, her brother Josh mysteriously disappears and throws Teddi, and her family, into a state of limbo.

It is in her travels back to Kentucky–as she sorts through the pains of her past, through her strained relations with her mother, and through artifacts discovered in the barn and at the house–that Teddi not only uncovers the truth about her brother, but also the truth of her mother’s heartache and her love.

Beth Hoffman’s second novel rings of the charm, prose, and captivating story that made her first book a New York Times bestseller. And, there’s an added layer of mysticism in the story of Josh, in the connection that he and Teddi have with each other, the woods, and wildlife around them.

Beth Hoffman first stopped by the blog when I interviewed her about her debut novel. I’m thrilled to host her again for a Q&A about Looking for MeYou could win a copy of Beth’s new novel (with thanks to her publicist): enter the giveaway by dropping your name in the comments. Random.org will choose the winner on Tuesday, May 28th–publication day!

Welcome, Beth Hoffman.

CC: In your first author interview here about your debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, you say that the character of CeeCee came to you late one night, “fully alive and her voice…so clear,” and that, in embracing that moment, her story unfolded naturally. I’d love to hear what inspired the story of Teddi Overman and her brother, Josh.

Author-PhotoBH: After I returned home from touring with CeeCee, I didn’t know what I’d write next, and quite honestly, I was too exhausted to think about it. One day I was cleaning my writing library and began to organize old photographs. I came across an envelope containing photos of my grandparents’ farm—some dating as far back as 1883. For a long time I studied a photo of Tony and Dolly, a team of horses that were the heartbeat of the farm, and then I came across a photo of my dad standing on a hay wagon when he was just a boy.

There were probably close to a hundred photos in all, and I spent a good while reliving my childhood and yearning for those simple days on the farm. When I was about half way through the stack of photos, I grew incredibly sad. I missed the smell of freshly tilled earth and the taste of sweet corn grown on the land that had been in my family for generations. Just as I picked up a photo of my younger brother, something flashed in my periphery. I looked up as a red-tailed hawk landed in the tree outside my window. He settled on a branch and then spread his tail for a moment to reveal his full regalia. He turned his head and looked in the window, and for a moment we both quietly considered each other. And then—wham—I knew I had the soul of my story.

CC: With the success of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, I imagine it would have been easy to write a very similar second novel. However, you traveled down a different path, still giving readers a story full of Southern charm and beautiful Beth-Hoffman style prose but weaving more mystery and darker themes throughout. Can you tell us about your experience in approaching and crafting this different kind of story?

BH: Novelists can become nearly paralyzed when facing the challenge of crafting their second book. Some end up writing a story similar to their debut, or even a sequel, while others have taken ten years or longer because they’re scared out of their minds, and with good reason. Expectations are high and the pressure to produce another winner is intense.

I had to push against the proverbial second novel anxiety and constantly tell myself: Just write what you want to write. I was adamant in my desire to create something entirely different, and when the hawk landed outside my window, I knew I had the right story. What matters to me most as I maneuver through my writing life is that I keep growing and exploring new subjects, settings, and characters.

CC: One theme that drives Looking for Me is the mistreatment of animals and human disregard for their sanctuary. Knowing this is an issue close to your heart, what would you like readers to take away from this story?

BH: I’m deeply disturbed by the cruelty inflicted on our animal friends. If I had one wish for something a reader would take away from my story, it would be that they lend their voice to help bring an end the horrors committed against animals and birds (domestic and wild) and their natural habitat.

CC: When you’re not writing, what do you love to do most in your free time?

BH: My greatest joys are simple—spending time with my husband and our four-legged children, studying nature, working in my gardens, and reading. I also enjoy antiquing with girlfriends and just recently I’ve become interested in photography.

~

Before beginning her writing career, Beth Hoffman was president and co-owner of an interior design studio. An artist as well as an award-winning designer, her paintings are displayed in private and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, and the UK. Beth lives, along with her husband and two very smart cats, in a restored Queen Anne home in a quaint historic district in Northern Kentucky. Her interests include the rescue of abandoned and abused animals, nature conservancy, birding, historic preservation, and antiquing.

~

Read more about Looking for Me in this great book review by Beth Fish on Beth Fish Reads. Then, visit Beth Hoffman’s website for an excerpt, as well as places to purchase the book. You can also subscribe to Beth’s author page on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.  And, don’t forget to drop your name in the comments for a chance to win a copy of Looking for Me!

Christi

About Christi

Christi Craig is a native Texan living in Wisconsin, working by day as a sign language interpreter and moonlighting as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Family Matters Contest, 2010. You can send comments or questions via her contact page.
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20 Responses to Q&A with Beth Hoffman, author of Looking for Me

  1. Beth Hoffman says:

    Thanks a million for hosting me on your blog and offering the giveaway, Christi.

  2. Emily Bell says:

    Great interview – love reading anything written by Beth Hoffman!

  3. Krystyn says:

    I loved Saving CeeCee and cannot wait for Looking for Me to come out!!! Thanks for the chance to win!!

  4. Susan C. says:

    I love Southern Lit, loved CeeCee Honeycutt and would love to win Looking for Me as well. I love antiquing, thrifting and going to yard sales because you never know what treasures you will find.

  5. Mary Mullins says:

    LOVE Beth Hoffman! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her latest!
    -Mary Mullins

  6. Angie Fischer says:

    Thanks for a great post. I really enjoyed reading this one.

  7. Wonderful interview! =)
    Im looking forward to reading “Looking for Me”, it sounds like a wonderful book.

  8. erica sz says:

    I have heard good things about the book and really appreciate the chance to win a copy. My TBR pile must be up in the stratosphere by now.

  9. Stuart Ross McCallum says:

    Hello Christi & Beth,

    Thank you both for a wonderful interview, and providing some further back story of how ‘Looking for Me’ became your latest novel. Since reading ‘Saving Ceecee Honeycutt’, I, along with many others, became a huge fan of Beth’s outstanding writing. I ordered a pre-release copy as soon as I heard of the new release, and anxiously waiting for what I know will be a delightful reading experience.

    Thank again, Stuart

  10. I was absolutely enthralled with Beth’s first novel even though I had never really been attracted to writing about the south. She certainly changed my mind very quickly as her prose was like poetry. She can paint a picture via the written word better than any artist I know. And her characters are so vivid and fascinating. I also can’t wait for my pre-ordered copy to arrive.

    Thanks so much for posting this wonderful interview. I knew Beth loves animals but am thrilled that one of the messages in the new book involves the issue of humane treatment of them.

  11. I loved her first book and can’t wait to read this one!

    Summer
    sumsum085@aol.com

  12. Emily Lewis says:

    I just loved this interview and I LOVE the cover!!!
    Emily Lewis recently posted..GIVEAWAY!!! It’s the Bella Andre Summer of Love Mixtape Contest and Beach Bag Giveaway!!!My Profile

  13. I Loved Beth Hoffman’s Debut novel and look forward to her next one! What a great interview. Thanks for the chance to win her next work of art!
    -Alison Schuman
    Cheapshot66@aol.com
    Alison Schuman recently posted..Macaroni Monday!My Profile

  14. BridgetO'Neill says:

    I’ve heard great things about this book! Can’t wait to read it!

  15. Ana says:

    Great interview, would love to read this one. It sounds like a perfect summer read. Thanks for the giveaway!
    Ana
    love2slim(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

  16. Margie says:

    The restoring of old antiques makes this book fascinating to me. Thanks for the giveaway.

  17. Wonderful interview. Looking forward to reading Beth’s latest. Thank you for the chance to win a copy!
    Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) recently posted..Making World Book Night Last All Year LongMy Profile

  18. Christi Christi says:

    I love the enthusiasm here. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, shared the interview, left a comment. I hope, even if you haven’t won the giveaway, that you’ll be holding your own copy in your hands soon (today IS release day!). Laura, you’ve described her style perfectly; her stories and her characters are not easily forgotten. Beth is such a wonderful author, in writing and in personality, well worth a reader’s time.

    And speaking of Beth, a special thanks to her for stopping by and sharing a bit on the background of her novel, as well as her insight and experience with writing.

    Now…Congrats to the winner of LOOKING FOR ME: Alison Schuman. Alison, you should receive an email from me soon 🙂

    Happy reading!

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