Beth Hoffman is an interior designer turned writer and with her debut novel being chosen as the first book for Sam’s Club book club it seems she made the right choice to turn to writing. Beth grew up in northeast Ohio, not far from where I live and she is just as sweet in person as a person can be. Read yesterday’s post about meeting her. By leaving a comment there or here you will be entered to win a copy of Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt.
And now on to what you are really interested in…
1. You and CeeCee both grew up not far from where I live. What’s the best thing about growing up in northeast Ohio?
The absolute best thing was the early years of life I spent living on my grandparent’s farm. To this day, there’s nothing that takes me back to fond Ohio memories more than smell of freshly cut hay and the rumbling sound of a tractor’s engine. I loved the change of seasons, too. And as tough as Ohio winters were, they were beautiful. The Metropolitan Park system is outstanding, and I enjoyed exploring the endless hiking trails as a kid. Whenever I go back to Ohio, I try to save some time to visit Squires Castle and walk the paths. Ohio is wonderful horse country too, and there was nothing like saddling up and going for a long ride through the countless trails that are so easily accessible. I miss that so much.
2. I’ve read that Aunt Tootie is based one of your own aunts. What was it about her that made her such a great character?
When I was nine years old, I went to visit my Great Aunt Mildred Caldwell who lived in Danville, Kentucky. And it was culture shock of the best kind. There I was, a shy little farm girl suddenly in the midst of a world I could have never imagined. I was in awestruck by the beautiful old homes, the towering trees, and the lush flower gardens, and, I was enthralled by the Southern dialect. My great aunt was an accomplished, highly educated woman who had strong values and a generous heart. And, oh, was she ever witty.
She was always busy with charity work and was known to step in when someone was in need. My great aunt treated everyone, and I mean everyone, with kindness. Her domestic help adored her, and she them. She was so charming—a true Southern lady. To this day I’ve never met anyone more gracious, and I suspect I never will. I was impressed by how she used and enjoyed the things she had; even her finest heirloom china was used for evening meals. As far as I could tell, nothing in her home was off limits or saved for that one special occasion. To my great aunt’s way of thinking, every day was a celebration, and it was called LIFE. That has been her legacy to me.
3. I gave this book 5 stars and am impressed that it is your first book. How much time passed from conception to publication?
I’m so glad you loved CeeCee’s story, thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. So much so that I was really saddened when I typed THE END. The manuscript took four years total—the last nine months of which were spent on intense, and sometimes brutal, editing.
4. You had a successful career as an interior designer before switching to writing. How has your life changed since making the leap?
I’m calmer and much more grounded. Perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve noticed is that I’m more wide awake to the simple things in life—the things that bring me the greatest joy: my animals, watching the birds, walking in nature, and having the time to really listen to a friend in need. While I loved my design career, I was so buried in work for such a long period of time that I lost the wider vision and appreciation of life that I once had. It might sound strange, but I regained much of my childlike delight in people and everyday life when I threw my briefcase in the trash, kicked of my high-heels, and began to write.
5. What was your favorite childhood book?
Hmmm, that’s a real toss-up. I loved STUART LITTLE and THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS equally.
6. What’s the last book you read?
THIS I BELIEVE – The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women
7. What’s your favorite non-reading and writing hobby?
Animal rescue, gardening (I’m crazy for peonies), and laughing with girlfriends! I’m a stay-at-home kind of person, and I truly enjoy the simpler things. In the warmer months my husband and I will pack a picnic, drive to General James Taylor Park, which overlooks the Ohio River, and play gin rummy while watching the barges go by. To me, that’s living.
8. I love quotes. Do you have a favorite?
Yes! And it’s from Richard Bach’s book ILLUSIONS: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”
9. Who would you choose if you were trapped in the life of one fictional character?
This is going to seem odd, I’m sure, but I’d pick Thelma Rae Goodpepper. I adore her. As eccentric as she is, Thelma Rae succeeded in creating a magical, if offbeat, world for herself—she is a true free spirit.
10. And finally, what are you working on now?
I thought I knew, but it’s dramatically changed over the past few weeks. Though I have ideas, and more characters have stepped from my imagination, I suspect I won’t know for certain what my next novel will be until I complete my book tour. I’ll be traveling quite extensively for the next several months, and I find it hard to do much writing when I’m on the road. I miss it something fierce, and I’m eager to hit the keyboard again.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Beth! Visit her website for more info and event dates.