Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Showcase/Review: In the Fools Footsteps by Karen Hoffman

Book Description

May 17, 2012
You’re in a used bookstore when you find a filthy old notebook. You smell the mildew and feel the aged mushiness of the remaining pages, about to disintegrate in your fingertips, and stained with mud, coffee, tears, who knows what else. Further inspection reveals that it’s a diary. Do you read it? Who wouldn’t? Then you notice that it has passed through several hands since 1928 when a teenaged runaway named Clara started the whole thing. Now it’s in your hands. Do you add your own story to this odd message-in-a-bottle collection? This is the question Kal Winters is avoiding. Seventy-six years after Clara dropped her diary on the steps of Union Station, Kal finds it in a used bookstore and sets out to trace its path, hoping to learn the secret of Clara’s identity. During this surreal journey that draws from folklore, legend and tarot, Kal encounters a cast of weird and wonderful players in a story about alienation and the human need to connect.

There are books that come to you by chance and when you read the back cover you hope the book can meet the high expectations you set for it.  In the Fool's Footsteps did not disappoint.  It was an extremely engaging and well weaved story of the travel of a journal through many years 
and many hands.  It illustrates how our lives feed into others and how the power of the written word can become a mystery in and of itself!  I really enjoyed this novel and rate it 4 stars!

Karen Hoffman grew up in a small town in southwestern Ontario, but moved to Toronto in 1995. She lives in a tiny, old house with her husband, young son and parrot. Aside from In the Fool's Footsteps, she has also written a play called It Just Is that was produced in 2007 at the Junction Arts Festival in Toronto.
Karen is happiest when she's being creative, whether it's writing, acting, sewing or painting. She is also a sporadic blogger and avid hatcher of plans. (Her friends and family tend to run into hiding whenever she says, "Hey, you know what would be cool?")
To learn what is currently incubating in her writing life, follow Karen on Twitter at @foolsfootsteps or visit www.prosperocious.wordpress.com. Personal observations and other projects can be found at www.simplecityliving.wordpress.com.

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A. Inspiration comes to me from real-life observations catalogued in my brain over the years. I rarely write that stuff down right away because, frankly, I lose scraps of paper. If it’s a good idea, my subconscious will tuck it away for later. When I need a detail for a setting or a character, they tend to pop into my head as I’m writing. It sometimes feels more like channeling than writing – accessing almost-forgotten moments, strange details with no context, snippets of conversation. That may sound crazy, and I often joke with my friends about the voices in my head, but I think many writers are a touch insane.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author? 

A.  I appreciate the escapism creative writing offers – the opportunity to meander around in my own world for a couple of hours. In whatever setting I have invented, with whatever characters, it’s therapeutic to fictionalize real-life snags and work them out on the page. I find the whole process immensely gratifying, from puzzling out the structure and outline to crafting a scene and choosing the absolute best combination of words.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author? 

A.  As with any creative endeavour, those deep, dark moments of self-doubt are the toughest for me. (Fortunately, they are getting less deep and dark as I learn to ignore it and just get on with it.)  

 Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be? 

A. Writing has always been my dream and filled my spare time while paying the bills with ‘regular’ jobs. If writing were out of the picture, I would probably pursue an acting career. It comes back to my favourite thing about writing – getting lost in another world, another character. I’ve done a bit of acting, and adore the liberation and adventure of being able to say and do things on a stage that I would never do in real life.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled? 

A.  I'm Starting to Think It's Me 

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time? 

A.  The World’s Best Fairy Tales, specifically the Reader’s Digest anthology published in 1967. My grandmother used to read to me from that book and I still have it. The stories are uncensored, with all the violence left in there. I’ve carried that book from city to city my whole life and now it sits on my headboard.
In high school, I read Bruno Bettelheim's Uses of Enchantment, a Jungian interpretation of classical fairy tales, and the stories were all suddenly very new to me. Sex and violence. That was a catalyst for a life-long fascination with archetypes and, to a certain extent, ancient spirituality. I based all of the main players in my book on tarot cards and shaped the plot to parallel the experiential journey the Fool card represents as he learns the lessons of the other cards. So, that book from my childhood had and still has a huge impact.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like? 

A.  Sissy Hankshaw from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. While my thumbs are normal size and I’ve never hitchhiked, she follows her own path and draws her own conclusions rather than relying on what she’s been told by authority figures.

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like? 

A. That’s a tricky question because all the characters have elements of me. Cherise, however, is probably closest to my personality, or at least the way I would like others to see me. She’s loving and graceful, but with a bit of an edge. She’s also slightly domesticated, enjoying cooking, crocheting and gardening, but knows how to handle power tools. She also likes to party and laugh.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A. Sprummerall. (That’s a season, right?) From the first warm rays to the crisp ending. From planting the first of the peas to harvesting the carrots, my garden is my favourite place to be. I read in my garden. I relax there with a cocktail and my best friend. I play with my son. We have parties and barbeques. I write in my garden. 

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why? 

A. The cover, which was photographed and designed by Matthew Marigold [www.matthewmarigold.com], is based on the Fool card from the tarot. In the traditional tarot deck, the fool is walking along a mountain path with a sack tied to a stick. He is about to step off a cliff into an entirely new and unexpected situation. The cover is the same composition, but placed in an urban setting.


Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book. 

A.  For my book launch party, I wanted to be able to sign ebooks for those who preferred that format. So, I designed a special cover to fit a Kindle, which then needed to be printed, cut out and glued together. There was a misunderstanding between myself and the printer about the paper size – the result was that we could only fit one per page rather than two. When I got the print job home and sat down to work on assembling the covers, I realized that he had printed double the number without charging me. I was really touched by that.

I went back to the same printer some time later to get posters done for an upcoming reading and took the opportunity to thank him for the kindness. He had no recollection of the first encounter, and most certainly didn’t recognize me. After I left, questioning my own sanity, I remembered that I had all my hair cut off.

Oh, and almost nobody at the launch bought the electronic version. So I have a whack of these things to give away for those who have purchased the ebook and would like a signed cover
[link to: http://prosperocious.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/how-did-the-e-author-sign-her-e-books/] Just drop me a note in the comments section of my blog.

Q.  Are you working on something new? 

A.  I’m just now putting the finishing touches on the concept and outline for my next novel and beginning to write the first draft.
I’ve also had some feedback from readers that they would like more In the Fool’s Footsteps, so I may do some independent pieces on my blog that will expand some of the characters more and switch perspectives away from the story’s unreliable narrator.

I’ve also been presented with a couple of blogging opportunities that I am considering.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by? 

A. I’d like to say thank you for supporting indie authors. Shortly before I launched my book, I started having anxiety dreams that the internet shut down. That, of course, would be devastating for self-published authors because it would cut us off from our audience (not to mention the resulting world-wide chaos and destruction, but this is my dream and I don’t write in the post-apocalyptic genre). It’s amazing to me that so many book lovers have embraced new technology in a way that enables writers to just put it out there and let the chips fall where they may. 


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