Friday, 20 February 2015

Caledonia...with Amy Hoff

My Friday Familiarising continues with Amy Hoff - a lovely lady of many talents...and I'd like to Hail Caledonia as well...

I'm delighted to welcome my new guest  - Crooked Cat author Amy Hoff - who, I'm sure, is having a fantastic Friday. Her urban fantasy novel Caledonia launches today. 

When I first saw the cover design for Amy's Crooked Cat novel, I was intrigued. For me the word Caledonia is synonymous with a song my mother used to sing, the words of which tend to circle in my head for hours after any mention of Caledonia. My mother sang her song with great pride  - and I'm sure Amy is also delighted and proud to see her novel launch today!

As many readers of this blog, and of my writing in general, will already know - I'm very proud to be Scottish. That doesn't mean the romanticised glossy 'highland hero' image some might have of Scotland: I'm proud of the country in its entirety. I find it's always interesting to discover what others think about Scotland and Amy Hoff fits that bill since she has more than a passing experience of living in my country. Even more than that, she has experience of living in Glasgow - the city of my birth -  though her knowledge of the city is much more recent than mine. Every city has nice areas and less nice ones and I believe Amy hasn't been shy over learning about the latter. 

I don't know Amy well, yet, so I asked her some nosy questions... 

Can you please tell us where you’re from and where you’re currently living?
I was born in northern Minnesota, but have lived most of my life on the road. I spent five years, give or take, in Glasgow, and have recently moved to Ireland.

Amy - I drove north from Rochester, Minnesota, to Winnipeg. We wound our way up through northern Minnesota and dipped a toe in North Dakota. But back to the interview... Tell us 3 more things about yourself that might not be in an author bio?
I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, I've somehow acquired a love of tea, and a Malaysian snake wrangler once took me on a jetski ride.

I'm trying to get a mental image of that last one, Amy! I don't think you'll find many snake wranglers in Scotland or Ireland, but you might find a jet-ski. What’s a typical day like for you…or do you never have typical days?
I never have typical days. 

Did anyone, or anything, influence you or encourage you to become a writer?
I've been writing since I was seven years old, as something I've always just automatically done.  I've had a variety of influences and favourite authors, but primarily I find that it is difficult for me not to write.

What genres do you write in?
Primarily in horror, fantasy, and historical fiction.

Folklore, and in particular Scottish folklore, is a great interest of yours which sneaks its way into your writing. Can you tell us more about your Scottish University studies?
I've been studying Scotland for over fifteen years. I felt very fortunate to be able to earn my Master's at the University of Glasgow, and begin my PhD research in Scottish monster folklore in Scotland.

What's your first published work?
Caledonia is my first published novel.

What prompted you to write Caledonia- today being the official launch from Crooked Cat Publishing? And can you tell us something that won’t be covered in the blurb for Caledonia?
I lived in Glasgow while I was studying folklore. Glasgow can be a rough city, and the dichotomy of the faerie lore coupled with the everyday reality of the place made me think it was perfect for urban fantasy. There's also a lot of humour and heart in it that I find particularly Glaswegian. Something that won't be covered in the blurb is that for the web series, which is based on the book, we filmed in all the neighbourhoods you might not expect: Possilpark, Maryhill, Easterhouse, Bridgeton.

As well as finding time to write fiction, you’re heavily involved in the Theatre Arts.  I've got lots of questions in my mind about this creative side of your day but how about these:
How did you get involved in this? What projects are you currently working on? Does your Theatre Group tend to produce specialised material for the stage?
I founded and run a company called Cult Classic about five years ago. Our group has shifted away from theatre and is fully committed to the Caledonia webseries at the moment, but that doesn't mean we won't return to theatre in the future. I started the company because many people wanted to see what I might call geek classics onstage. We did the only official UK production of Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog and the only amateur stage adaptation of British cult novel Good Omens with the permission of the authors, which is our great pride and joy. We are currently submitting for web series festival season and have some plans for the future, but we aren't quite ready to announce the news just yet!

My lips are sealed! What have been the main learning curves that you’ve encountered during the writing of Caledonia, maybe things that have been vastly different from your adaptations of famous novels for performing on stage?
I've found that film is a very different medium. I am accustomed to weekly rehearsals, and my actors are used to projecting their voices as well as stage acting. We're also learning a great deal about visual storytelling in this medium.
Mortal Souls- Leah and Dorian

Do you see yourself as veering towards more fiction writing in the future, with less time spent on the dramatic scene?
I'd say I plan on both. I tend to write almost constantly so I don't find other things to be particularly time-consuming, as I've always written because I feel compelled to write. I enjoy doing many things; I've often been told I work too hard!

Internet promotion for our books is so vital. Have you any advice to share? Any techniques you think you’ll be using after publication of Caledonia?
The only thing I know is to find every single avenue possible, which I am also doing with my web series. This in itself is a full-time job, and I continue to discover new avenues of promotion for both the series and the novel. There's a lot to be said for the kind of sheer intensity it takes just to investigate these avenues, send out emails, and share where you are welcome to do so.

I totally agree with you, Amy, as will most Crooked Cats. A 24 hour day just doesn't suffice. Thanks for your brilliant answers.

You can see more of the Caledonia Web Series at

Buy Caledonia from:
Amazon UK

Thank you for visiting today, Amy. Best wishes from me for a successful launch of Caledonia. 



  1. Great interview, Nancy and Amy. Your book and web series sound fascinating, Amy, as I live just down the Clyde from Glasgow. All the best with your novel!

  2. Thank you, Rosemary! The web series was filmed entirely in Glasgow, Islay, and Seoul (so far!). There are many iconic places in it; you'd recognise many of them.

  3. Thank you for your visit, Amy. It's great to see Caledonia rising in the Amazon charts!


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