There are some people who, as the old saying goes, need no introduction. There are others who are damn near impossible to properly introduce because you don’t know where to begin. W. C. Hoffmanis a Michigan native. Among other things, he’s active law enforcement, a magician, a musician (guitar and vocal), an outdoorsman, a survivalist, a hunter and a “bow fisherman.” I suppose the traditional rod and reel would make it too easy. Hoffman specializes in handmade weapons and tools. And in his free time, where he finds any I’ll never know, he writes and self publishes books. Twins of Prey, Hoffman’s first novel, was released in March of this year and the second book in the series is due out soon. I first heard about W. C. Hoffman on the Rocking Self Publishing podcast. I reached out to him and he was kind enough to grant me an interview.
Q: As I described, you have an awful lot in your toolbox but none of it really screams fiction writer. What first prompted you to launch a career as a novelist?
A: I think everything I do has one major aspect in common; storytelling. As a survivalist, I have learned the ways of the woods and I teach them to those who wish to learn. One of the best ways to teach situational skills is by using a story, true or not, that helps place the student in the situation.
As a musician, the stories are in my lyrics and chords.
As a magician, (click here to see Hoffman in action) adding a story to your effect makes it more than just magic. With a story it becomes theater. A good example would be imagine I take a ring and make it vanish. Then I take an orange and cut it open, finding the ring inside. Okay cool magic trick but not theater. Now let’s add a story,
I borrow a wedding ring from a random audience member. I talk about the relationship and how and what a marriage means. I mention what the ring symbolizes, I build emotion through story. It is her 10k ring and it means the world to her and suddenly it is gone. Now I have a bowl of 12 oranges on a table. Why oranges? Because my grandfather lived in Florida my whole life and when we visited each summer he would always walk with me through the groves on his land. When I was ready to marry my wife, we talked about marriage and about how his and grandmas had lasted through the years.
Now the women walks across the stage and freely chooses an orange, She opens it and the ring, her ring is inside. MAGIC. And I always mention that citrus is a great jewelry cleaner.
Even my career in Law Enforcement benefits from me being able to recite situations as they happened and explain things to those who were not there (like a jury for example). Of course no room for fiction there but writing or reporting in a clear manor with attention to details is all the same.
Q: Twins of Prey is about two young brothers with skill sets similar to your own. They are adept at surviving in the Michigan wilderness. They are not, however, prepared for life in what would be considered normal society. What was the inspiration for that story?
A: Nature vs. Nurture. The idea was to write something that forces the reader to look inside themselves and decide who they side with. Are the Twins wrong for what they do or is it that they just do not know any different. Of course in our civilized society they are wrong, but the Twins are not part of our society. They are hardly part of our world. When changing lives is not an option the only thing left is to take lives.
Q: Were any aspects of Twins of Prey autobiographical?
A: The entire book is autobiographical, except for the stuff I made up. Seriously, I was raised by my uncle. The woodland way of life was instilled in me at a young age. Everything in the book that the twins learn hunting, fishing survival wise I was taught by him. Also, yes, my uncle did take his own life just as Uncle does in Twins of Prey. (Page 1 = not really a spoiler)
My uncle Tom never taught me how to kill or trap humans or anything violent. Our lessons revolved around throwing baseballs and floating in bass boats. My life was nothing like the Twins. Thankfully.
Q: Twins of Prey was self published. Prior to the book launch, you ran a highly successful Kickstarter and raised money for cover design, copyediting and marketing. Community funding programs are generally more successful for those who already have some sort of following. You didn’t, but you were still able to make it work. What do you think were the biggest reasons for that?
A: I have a following as a magician and a small one as an outdoor writer. I really succeeded in reaching out to the type of people who would like the book, outdoorsmen. I talked about it via Facebook groups dedicated to the outdoors and really reached out directly to my customer base.
Q: You are obviously a do it yourself kind of guy. Did you ever even consider pursuing a traditional publisher?
A: I did not mainly because I never expected the book to sell as well as it has and I wrote it as a grieving process after my uncle’s death. This strategy has sold a lot of paper backs as well. I currently am on the shelves in multiple hunting and fishing stores. Anyone who likes fast paced thrillers will love Twins of Prey. And if you love the outdoors you will love it all the more.
Q: You will soon release the second book in the Twins of Prey series. What was the most important lesson you learned from book number one?
A: Do not rush to publish! FIGHT THE URGE! EDIT EDIT EDIT!
I hired an editor an old newspaper guy. I’ve known him for years and trusted him totally, so much so that I clicked publish after he sent me back the fixed manuscript. I should of re read the book, he missed a lot and that meant that my first batch of readers did not get a quality product. That will NEVER happen again. Luckily the story was strong enough for them to look through and I still got a nice batch of 5 star reviews.
Q: What are your plans beyond Twins of Prey?
A: As it stands right now, Twins of Prey is a four book series with book 4 being a prequel about their Uncle. The story of the twins themselves will be complete in book 3.
As far as writing more in the future I have another series planned. It is actually an expansion of a short story I wrote in high school as an assignment. “Falls Like The Snow” is a purely white baby naturally born into a Chippewa Tribe in mid Michigan. Falls is the son of the tribal chief and eventually becomes the tribal leader himself. Book 1 covers his rise to adult hood. Book 2 covers his warring against other tribes for supremacy in the great lakes region and book 3 is about his relationship with the white French fur trappers who look like him and his joining in the French and Indian war.
Q: What would you say is your biggest strength as a writer?
A: Action scenes and describing nature. Every location I write about I have been too. I know what the slippery rocks feel like in the rivers bottom and how cold the water feels against bare skin. I am able to describe these moments and make my reader feel as if they are there as well.
Q: And your biggest weakness?
A: Dialogue. Most of my protagonists end up being the strong silent type.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
A: Just write, seriously sitting your butt down in the chair and pound it out. That is the hardest part. You cannot finish until you start.
Q: I have one final question, and it has to do with the advice you just gave. Do you have any special tricks or techniques to motivate, inspire, or give yourself a kick in the butt when the words just won’t come?
A: Sadly, I don’t have any tricks to game myself into writing. As a husband and a dad of two who has many other projects the main thing for me is finding time to write. But when I do have a chunk of time I make the most of it. I don’t have all the time in the world to just sit there and wait for my muse to come. When I sit down it’s time to rock the word count. Maybe that is my game, self imposed pressure. However I can’t imagine pressure being a good fuse for many other writers.
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