Given, welcome to Homeschool Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here! I’m a Minnesota writer and novelists, who loves suspense and stories with significance. I’m passionate about homeschooling and about mentoring and encouraging young adults in their faith. I have been pursuing fiction writing for ten years. Due to my love of homeschooling and my involvement with my state’s homeschool organization, I took on a non-fiction project and compiled the book The Voices of the Pioneers: Homeschooling in Minnesota. After that I shifted back to fiction, a friend also got me started writing flash fiction. In 2016, I authored the flash fiction stories: “FBI Apprehends Mole” and “Mrs. Fanny Delmor” both published by Splickety. I launched my first novel in October of 2018, and so (after ten years of learning and investing) really I am just getting started. So to all you who are still dreaming and hoping, don’t quit. If writing is a gift God has given you, He will use it.
Everyone’s homeschooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
My mother always told us kids, “Anything you put your mind to, you can do.” Out of the five of us kids, I was always the one saying, “I can’t.” “I can’t learn to read.” “I can’t do math.” “I can’t figure out paper writing.” Etc. I was easily overwhelmed and would often throw up my hands and declare the pursuit impossible. At which point my mother would start her simple yet powerful campaign: “I know you can do this. You can do anything you set your mind to.” I learned far more than school because of her unique approach.
How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
Homeschooling gave me the foundation for writing: grammar, spelling, etc. But most of all homeschooling introduced me to reading. My mother read YA historical fiction to us on our homeschool lunch breaks, and I read all kinds of fiction, everything from Nancy Drew to Stephen Lawhead. With the flexibility of homeschooling, my mother took me to my first writers guild when I was sixteen and my first writers conference the following year. Being introduced to the world of professional authors and getting to learn from them at conferences grew my writing skills by leaps and bounds.
What caused you to start writing?
I’ve always had trouble falling asleep, and one night about mid-high school I got this scene stuck in my head. In the next couple of months that scene snowballed into the plot of a contemporary suspense novel. I couldn’t help myself. I started writing a book.
What inspired The Eighth Ransom?
To be honest, I never set out with the intention to be a young adult suspense novelist (which is now ultimately my market). My first book was an adult suspense novel based around white collar crime in Chicago. I was a total novice determined to get published. I pitched to publishers and got rejected over and over, but each time I learned something. Eventually, I had a couple of different publishers interested enough to request my manuscript. None of their interest turned into a publishing contract, but one of the reasons they said they were rejecting my work was because they didn’t feel a teenager (which I was at the time) could market a book to adults. So I started brainstorming book ideas with teenage protagonists. That eventually lead me to write The Eighth Ransom. My inspiration for the book was the question: “What would happen if a bunch of teenagers from different backgrounds, worldviews, families, etc. got thrown together and had to work together to save themselves and others? Could they do it?” It grew from there into the story of the kidnapping of eight young people whose ransoms play a part in an international plot against the US.
As a writer you’re often unsure whether you’ve accomplished your goal in your writing. For me that confirmation came from an independent reviewer from Readers’ Favorite. She wrote about The Eighth Ransom, “This story was so much more than I expected, and the characters with their individual problems and attitudes were very well done!” You can view her full review here.
Would you give us a synopsis?
The Eighth Ransom focuses on two main characters: Trent Soris and Ashley Rye. Trent is the eighteen-year-old son of a single mom who has just gotten married. He isn’t coping well with being dumped into a new life with a stepfather, step-sister, and rules that are definitely cramping his style. He’s pushing his mother for information about his birth father and trying hard to drive his stepfather away.
Ashley, on the other hand, is a seventeen-year-old homeschooler who has grown up in a solid home with both parents and four siblings. With a stay-at-home mom and a dad who’s a private pilot, Ashley’s biggest stressors are deciding what major to choose for college and how to survive being the center of attention at her graduation party. But that’s before she’s kidnapped and held for ransom.
Unlike the seven others who are taken, Trent wasn’t one of the kidnappers’ targets. In the wrong place at the wrong time, he doesn’t have a ransom. He figures he must either escape or find a way to make himself important to their kidnappers otherwise he might be the only one not going home. But when escape proves futile and all eight of them face the possibility of not making it out alive, they find enough common ground and attempt working together to figure out who’s behind their kidnappings and how they can fight back.
You can watch The Eighth Ransom’s Book Trailers here.
Who will enjoy The Eighth Ransom?
My target audience for The Eighth Ransom is Young Adults age 12-19, particularly teen boys (since The Eighth Ransom is a suspense-driven action adventure that does not include romance). As far as who has enjoyed it? I’ve had a variety of people (kids, parent, and even grandparents) who have all liked it.
Where can people buy your book?
I’d recommend going to my website GivenHoffman.com and following the buy link directly to my publisher’s sales site, but you can also find The Eighth Ransom on Amazon, Barns & Noble, iBooks, etc.
Do you plan to write more books?
Yes, I’m currently in the process of editing the first book in my new period medieval trilogy written for teenage boys. I will also be continuing to write contemporary suspense, similar in style to The Eighth Ransom, and I do have plans to someday write a sequel to The Eighth Ransom, though both would remain stand-alone novels.
Where can people connect with you online?
My website is a great place to learn more about me and subscribe to my email newsletter to get updated on my book discounts, book news, and events. I also have a list of resources for writers on my website and a link to my blog on practical Christianity.
My public author Facebook page is a good place to connect and contact me.
I’m on twitter .
You can also find me on Pinterest, where I’ve collected pictures of some of the places and things I mention in The Eighth Ransom.
Do you have any final thoughts?
As a final thought, I would say strive after the calling God has given you (whether that’s writing or something else entirely), and don’t let the expectations or judgements of other people keep you from doing what you know God has called you to do. I’ve wanted to give up many times because of the way others have responded to me as a writer. Even after my book was published people would say things like, “Wow, this is actually good.” As if they are surprised I really had something to offer. But we ALL have something to offer. So my exhortation to you all is don’t ever hide away the gifts God has given you. Be who God created you to be. To quote McNair Wilson, one of my past writing instructors, “When you don’t do you, the world is incomplete. But when you do you, you inspire me.” I hope we can all learn to embrace who God has made us to be and inspire others to do the same.
Thank you again for the opportunity to be here. God bless!