Today on The Big Break, I would like to welcome Cara Hoffman, debut author of So Much Pretty which I reviewed this morning. Cara is here to tell us about her big break into the publishing world.
Thanks for coming onto the blog today.Thank you for having me.
Can you tell us a little about your journey to becoming a writer?
I began writing when I was a child, probably around four years old. I would tell long stories to my mother and she would type them up and keep them in a folder. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I didn’t finish high school or get an undergraduate degree—but I travelled and wrote, and when I returned to the states I got a job at a weekly community newspaper, first delivering papers—and eventually having a real beat covering city and environmental politics and crime. I wrote fiction on the side, went on to work at a daily and finally applied to graduate school for writing.
Your debut novel, ‘So Much Pretty’ is about to hit the bookshops, how are you feeling right now?
Described as an ‘unforgettable tale of love and loss, vengeance and justice, and how one crime can change a place for ever’, how did you come up with such an intriguing idea?
So Much Pretty is based on a story I covered as a reporter and on my experiences living in a small environmentally threatened town at the northern edge of Appalachia.
Did you have to do a lot of research to write the book?
I did a lot of research on violence against women, and on sexualized violence. In the United States three women are murdered every day by their boyfriends or husbands, added to the number of women murdered by strangers, and the number of women who are raped (more than six hundred a day) this isn’t a pretty picture. We don’t like to talk or even think about these numbers. These are some of the issues I was studying to write the book.
How long did it take you to write ‘So Much Pretty’?
Was this your first finished manuscript, or are there others hidden away?
There are others.
Was it easy to find an agent?
I was very lucky. One of my best friends; Annia Ciezadlo, who worked with me at Alt Press, gave the manuscript to her agent, Rebecca Friedman, without telling me. And Rebecca wanted it. So I didn’t have to shop the novel around and I didn’t experience the anxiety most writers do knowing they have a manuscript out and waiting for a response.
How many times did you have to edit your book before the agent was happy to send it off to publishers?
What was your first reaction when you found out that your book was to be published?
Joy, relief and shock.
How long has it taken for your book to reach publication after the initial agreement?
Two years. It seems like a long time—but in retrospect the time flew by.
What was happening to your manuscript during this time?
For many months nothing—then I began working with my editor Sarah Knight, and making some changes and sharpening the vision of the novel.
How have you kept yourself occupied whilst waiting for publication day?
I was teaching at a community college the time, which kept me pretty busy.
What other projects are you working on at the moment? Tell us what a typical writing day would be like?
I am revising my second novel called Be Safe I love You, which is also coming out from Simon and Schuster in the Unites States, I also started writing a third novel a couple of months ago. A typical writing day starts early. I usually write as soon as I wake up, take a break in the afternoon and then go back to it in the evening. Writing for long stretches of time is the best, getting in twelve or fifteen hours makes me the happiest.
What advice would you give to aspiring and unpublished authors?
Get out and see things and do things. Writing programs are helpful for learning craft, but there’s no substitute for experiences. Also don’t give up. It takes a long time to see your work in print.
Thank you Cara. Not sure if I am more disturbed by the story now,after discovering it is based on a true event.