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FAQ 2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Interview with 2015 Genre-Based Winner Vanessa Leigh Hoffman.

Vanessa Leigh 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.

HOLLYWOOD 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 school, too. 

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 that...the truth.

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.

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 the storyline?

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 their meanings. 

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.

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 heartwarming read.

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 further details.

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 yourself?

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.

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