Many people know Linda Herkenhoff from her generous volunteer work and as a former local reporter. “I was hired as a reporter about fifteen years ago at the Crow River News,” Linda stated. “I covered everything newsworthy that happened in Rockford and Greenfield for about ten years and learned a lot from everyone I met. It was an adventure. Very different from what I do now. I had to work faster, and harder, at the paper, but seeing my efforts in print each week was well worth it.”
Linda is also an accomplished novelist. With five published books under her belt Linda is well ingrained in the world of publishing. When asked how she would describe her writing style, she shared, “Relaxed contemporary. I like to give characters a lot of lines and see where they’re headed before getting involved. I usually have the beginning, and end, pretty well figured out when I start a story so it’s just a matter of getting them to the finish line on their own volition. This feels less contrived and more natural, or ‘relaxed,’ and often offers a bonus of surprising me.”
Unlike her reporting for Crow River News where she used her real name for the byline, Linda uses a pseudonym for her books. How did this come to be? “I am nothing if not loyal to my mistakes,” Linda laughs.
“With my first book, we worked out the contract details by phone and they sent me a copy to look over, sign and return. Asked if I wanted to publish under a pseudonym, I claimed L.S. Hoff (it’s initials and part of my last name, Herkenhoff, which felt long for a handle). And, it seemed gender neutral.
“My contract, the one I got in the mail, listed the author as ‘Ellis Hoff.’
“I’d been cautioned at countless writing seminars by those ‘in the know’ that being difficult could cost even a good writer an opportunity so … guess who didn’t rock the boat?”
Linda’s latest book, Victory Blood, under the pseudonym author name Ellis Hoff, is available for purchase on Amazon. Below is an excerpt of an interview Linda did with IndieView, an online blog for independently published authors. The full interview from July 5, 2019 can be found at http://www.theindieview.com/2019/07/05/indieview-with-ellis-hoff-author-of-victory-blood/.
ABOUT THE BOOK
What is the book about?
Although there is a paranormal element, the essence of the story is relatable in mainstream storytelling with the big reveal coming in later to change it up. Completely.
From the safety of her loyal laptop and lonely apartment, Melinda writes her way back from a devastating divorce and mental meltdown with a measured amount of success. The gig—a graphic novel series featuring a vamp “negotiator”—isn’t exactly what she would have imagined for herself. Not even in the ballpark.
But the muse is running like a tap she can’t quite shut off and…her work is selling.
As the “Victory Blood” brand picks up momentum, stones from the wall she’s built around her start to crumble away. She let’s the world back in.
Which might be a mistake.
When did you start writing the book?
Two years ago, and change. I wrote Victory Blood over a Labor Day weekend for a worldwide three-day novel competition. I didn’t win, but got a huge jump on the story, even typing in “The End” for my benefit. It was far from being done, but it was a pretty sweet outline. And, it really ramped up the momentum.
How long did it take you to write it?
I wrote the first draft in three days, but “draft” would be pretty generous for what I had.
What I had was a structurally sound story with a compelling heroine and supporting cast.
What I needed was about forty thousand more words and a damned good edit.
Where did you get the idea from?
I always, way down deep, wanted to write a paranormal. Something that jacked up the “this is WAY out of my control” factor for a protagonist. For some reason, I stuck to the more mortal traveled side of the road. But when this competition came up, I thought, “Three days of something completely new? Well okay, let’s do this.”
But, what kind of paranormal would be the next obvious question. And I didn’t even have to ask it.
I watched the sixties daytime series “Dark Shadows” daily, curled up on the couch with my mother and sisters for five of the most formative years of my life. I was too young to understand most of it, but I got this:
Vampires are scary.
Barnabes—BAD ass—Collins? In a dark forest or dim hallway? No. Not on a bet.
And, vampires are smart, resourceful, manipulative and…kind of hot. Even old Barnie. There’s just a magnetic draw to their secretive, cryptic lifestyle.
So, what if you were just an average woman, facing really shitty circumstances, who got sucked into the vamp vortex by accident?
That was my thought process leading up to the competition.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
I wouldn’t say I struggled with the actual writing process—moving the story along with words on the page—but I did not like having to create a backstory that broke a woman’s heart. I mean, to pieces. That girl really loved that boy. I did that.
And that boy…
What came easily?
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
All made up.
Well, except for Jesse. He’s a compilation of every guy I’ve ever witnessed fronting a local band. The one you think about going home with, but know it won’t happen.
Unless it does.
And then what?
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Continue to inspire/influence. OMG, there are so many talented voices out there. Every time I finish a good read, I literally do an “air punch”.
First, where in the hell are they coming up with this stuff?
Secondly, thank you, all. Thank you for putting your stories out there. It’s hard and brave and…brilliant.
The biggest single authorship influence for me was—surprise, surprise—Stephen King. I’m guessin’ I’m not the first writer to cop to this.
For me, a young girl who dreamed of writing, it opened up a very elementary—but very important—door. One that had been elusive. I just couldn’t find the right voice.
Reading King for the first time, I had a light bulb (a hundred-watter) moment.
I could use my voice. The one I already had.
It was a game changer.
Do you have a target reader?
I’d like to throw my net wide and tell you that it’s a story for everyone, but…
Female readers over the age of thirteen who enjoy the character development of contemporary mainstream literature, but would like to dip their toes in the “unexplained element” pond. Hometown, everyday “it could happen to you” horror fans.
Maybe…in the making.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
Long, undisturbed hours on the computer whenever I can fit them in. No phone, no email. Just…work. Very boring, very comforting; Full-blown “nerd” style.
I prefer lengthy days with nothing on my schedule but writing, but I’ll pull a late night given the opportunity.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
Nope. Not on paper.
I get an idea for the beginning. The open. Then, I get an idea for the end. When the latter comes through, I sit down and write. It’s not much, but it is a map, of sorts. I just have to fill in the stops in-between
That sounds corny, doesn’t it? Okay, skip the map part and put my answer down as “no”. Close enough.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
Write, write as fast as you can.
Stopping to evaluate is often avoidance. You can get so mired up in details and second-guessing that you derail work in progress. This serves no one. You can fact-check when you close it up. And, you should, but get the heavy lifting out of the way.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
No. Well, unless someone nearby is playing it a little loudly.
Just like with my sleep—where my other fantasy life resides—I like silence. I’m so easily distracted.
But, in between the two? Prince—always and forever— and a good mix of hard core blues.