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C.P. Hoff lives in southern Alberta with her husband, and children. She has written for the local paper, which might be impressive if she lived in New York, and if anyone read the local paper. Hoff is a founding member of WordBridge – Lethbridge Writers’ Conference. 

Her first novel, A Town Called Forget, was longlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal For humour. Her second novel, West of Ireland, received a Kirkus star and was featured in Kirkus Best Indie Fiction & Literature 2020. Her third book, Canterberry Tales, also received a Kirkus star. 

You were nominated for the “Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.”  How would you describe your own sense of humor and how do you communicate humour through your writing?

What a hard question. So much of humour is instinct, and even that is subjective. It’s like pinning down a raindrop; timing is everything. That being said, I think I lean towards dysfunctional deadpan, if there is such a thing. If not, I claim it now. A bit of thumbing my nose at convention and waiting to see if it thumbs back.  

What similarities do each of your books have? How are they each unique? How much does setting affect the development of your stories? Do you recreate actual places or create fictional ones? 

 I think all my books are a bit tongue-in-cheek. They delve into sentiments that have been felt across the ages—belonging, desire, rejection, and loss, just to name a few.  What makes each unique are the characters that populate the pages. They come from different sensibilities and places in time. They have diverse goals. Each is looking at the world through their own quirks and biases. As for settings, they are fictional, although they do have a rhythm of their own; a beat that complements the souls that inhabit them. To me, it’s finding the right mix between setting and character. It’s like a good wine, bound together in ways that complement and standout.      

How has your writing style developed and changed over the years?

 I’ve become more confident in knowing the components of a story. I sometimes still get lost, lose the thread, but each time I’m a little faster at picking it up again. 

What techniques do you use to develop full, realistic characters? 

For me, the best way to develop character is through dialogue. It’s my favorite thing to write. I find description heavy, and narrative bores me to tears. But dialogue, that’s where the life is. It’s akin to eavesdropping. Sitting at a kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee and digging into the nitty gritty. What could be better than that?  

What inspired the title for the “Canterberry Tales?” 

Of course it was Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Although my book isn’t about a group of travelers trying to outdo each other with the best yarn, it is a tale told for gain. The Happy Valley Journal runs a comic strip hoping to gain notoriety.  The strip focuses on seven-year-old Celia Canterberry, a local child abandoned at the hospital. Obstreperous Celia flits across the page with havoc dripping from her fingertips, all to the chagrin of her overwhelmed Nan. Celia was a delight to write and hopefully equally as delightful to read about. 

 What writing advice would you give your past self, or new and emerging voices in writing?

Know what you want to write. If it’s to publish, find a good editor, someone who knows the market and can give you good advice. And believe you me, that someone can be hard to find, so be careful. But most of all, close your eyes and take a deep breath. You’re in for a bumpy ride.

Are you involved in other creative endeavors, aside from writing?

There are so many things I love to do. I paint, garden, cook, quilt, and crochet to name a few. There is so much to learn and so little time.

What books fill your bookshelf, other than your own?

There are so many. I have some my grandmother passed down to me—How Green was my Valley, Beautiful Joe, and Captain from Castile, to name a few. Then there are the ones I have picked up over the years—Anam Cara, The Amulet of Samerkand, Furiously Happy, the Chief Inspector Gamache books, and so many others. Those are just the ones that come to mind. 

Interview provided by:

Award-winning Canadian authors, Jenna Greene (YA Fantasy) and Miranda Oh (Contemporary Chick lit) pair up to provide you with engaging interviews with authors from all genres to give you a sneak peak into their lives and writing styles.