08 May, 2023

Interview with James T. Hogg, Author of Girl With a Knife Series - #GirlWithAKnife #Historical #RevengeSaga

James T. Hogg is the pseudonym of one of the most prominent New York City real estate attorneys. As a real-life attorney he has published two non-fiction books about real estate and business, one of which was a Wall Street Journal best seller.
Girl With a Knife is his first novel, writing as James T. Hogg. The novel is based on a story he told many times to his now-grown children. The goal—then and now—was to create a story that the reader simply cannot put down, even when it is midnight and the reader has to get up to go to work the next morning. That has always been his simple goal—to write a page-turner, so that the reader can have a great time with an enjoyable read.
Hogg now lives in New Jersey and has been happily married for thirty-eight years to his soulmate wife. They are blessed to be the proud parents of two daughters. The author’s muse calls from his summer home getaway, where he goes to play loud music and write and write and write. Mr. Hogg is not a boring New York City lawyer, but actually a very interesting fellow.

James on the Web:
Website | Goodreads | Amazon 

Interview with James T. Hogg

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?

I started writing and telling stories when I was in high school – almost 50 years ago.  My mother wouldn’t let me watch TV one night.  After going ballistic at this horrible injustice, I took out a typewriter and started writing a novel.  Yes, truly.  It wasn’t a very well written novel.
Fast forward about 25 years and I had two daughters so I started telling them stories.  All sorts of stories as they grew up.  One of them turned into this 5 part novel Girl With A Knife.  Of course it was nothing like that when I told them the story; instead, it kind of evolved over time.

What inspires you to write?

A great question that is hard to answer.  I don’t actually enjoy the writing itself as it is almost painful to do it.  But after I have written something – even a poem – I feel this tingle of pride that I created something that was (maybe) beautiful and wonderful.  That may not be the best answer but it feels as true as I could make it.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story? 

I was sitting in the kitchen one day – about 20 years ago -- ranting (kind of like a jerk I admit) to my wife.  I was extolling how bad a book I had read was, yet it was a best seller.  My wife rolled her eyes and said something like: “I suppose you could write a best seller?”  And I said, “yes – here is the story….”  And then it was the strangest thing ever.  It just flowed out of me.  I don’t know where it came from, but there it was, at least the first part.  It was how awful things happen to the girl protagonist and then the story was how she gets her revenge.  My wife looked at me – shocked – and said:  “Oh my God – that could be a best seller.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?

Yes a whole bunch of them.  One of them is a kids book that I hope to publish someday.  It is about how girls – not boys – when they turn about 11 years old their baby ears fall off and their grown up ears come in.  I am sure you know all about this.  Anyway, it is a cute story about this my kids loved when they were about six.  I have a bunch of stuff already written and next week I go on vacation and have several books in mind to start on.

Tell us about your writing process.

I have a beach house in Cape May, NJ.  Called Hogg’s House, believe it or not.  I go down there to write.  I get up in the morning around 6:00 AM.  I turn on music crazily loud – blasting it.  And then I just write and write and write till about 3:00 in the afternoon my wrists are burning and I just cannot move any more.  Then I stop – workout – have a scotch and sometimes a cigar and a nice dinner.  Then the next day I do it again.  Once I have an outline, I can write a whole book first draft in about 2 weeks.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why? 

Luke – a young boy who lives in the church -- is gay.  He tells no one as being gay in Colonial times was an awful result.  He tells swashbuckling Mertens finally – who has become like a father figure.  Mertens then inspires Luke with a beautiful story about how sad he is that he humiliated his best friend long ago who told him he was gay – and wishes he could take it back.  He also says that Luke’s being gay was given to him by God since he was so strong inside.  Luke weeps – and embraces Mertens.  Mertens then reveals to the reader that he made up the story.  Later – and I know this is two scenes – Luke dies and when he dies he tells Mertens he knew he made it up all along but loved him all the more for it.  When I read it I start crying.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?

A interesting question and the answer is no.  But my super-ego certainly lives in Mertens, who is an aging warrior intent on redeeming himself for his terrible un-God-fearing life.

What is your most interesting writing quirk? 

You ask good questions and this is a good one.  I am not sure it is a quirk, but I find writing dialog incredibly easy.  It flows out of me and when I look back to edit I rarely have to change a word.  I think I just feel the characters and know what they are going to say.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style? 

I love to read.  Favorites include Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Kate Quinn – Ken Follett (whom I overall emulate) – Frederick Forsyth and a whole bunch more.  So far I have Ken Follett as a role model – and my writing is closest to his I would guess, although by no means am I in his league --- but I am planning to try to write something like Zafon, whose prose is simply artwork.  I don’t know if I can pull that off, but I will try.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?

My wife thankfully told me my first draft of my book ‘sucked.’  Her word.  I looked at it and realized she was right.  I threw it out and started all over.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?

Fiction or non-fiction?  If it is fiction, I guess I would say the odds are dramatically stacked against your being successful, and therefore only do it if – like Zafon said – you can simply not imagine life without writing in it.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?

Tools to make a raft to escape. 
A long sharp knife.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind? 

I do a ton of things.  Golf (I am bad at it), singing lessons, piano lessons, working out a lot, stand up comedy and trying to do things I haven’t yet tried that are outside my comfort zone.  Also – I guess not free time – but I love my day job as a real estate lawyer at my law firm – since I love it so much it is not really work is it?]

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?

I will be launching something called The Bruce Projects, where I will bring together all of the pieces of my life including the things I noted above – my writing – my philosophy ‘stuff’ and everything I have done and will do.  The theme will be The (Second) Most Interesting Man in The World.  I admit this could be a flop, but I am going to take a stab at it.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.

My wife and I collect pigs – I mean a lot of pigs – with pig topiaries in the front yard. 
My favorite hobby is just thinking and daydreaming and coming up with things that will either be really cool or result in me making a fool of myself. 
I have my head up my butt when I drive and get lost everywhere even in my home town.

What do you have in store next for your readers?

If this book is successful – and it is starting to look that way – I have a sequel that will largely focus around Nununyi, who is an American Indian woman so incredible with the bow and arrow that it is part of her.  She has a small role at first that gets larger as the book develops.  Many of my readers find her fascinating so I think I will build on her.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers? 

I hope they enjoy my book.  That is the only purpose of it – for the reader to just enjoy turning the pages and becoming engrossed in the plot and the characters to the point is at the end the reader is bummed out that they are finished.

An epic historical fiction novel of love and revenge, in the vein of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, debut author James T. Hogg’s Girl with a Knife: Assault features a compelling heroine who must fight for justice and vengeance in ever dangerous 1600's Colonial New England. 

Faythe Emily Wentworth was taught by her father how to fight, and never shies from a conflict, no matter the odds. In her small settlement town, she must always be on guard. She is especially wary of one of the Downing brothers who taunts her, longing to take her, threatening to do so by force...
Faythe’s little sister Chloe is different. She is sweet-tempered, always seeing the good in others, and never suspecting ill intent.
Chloe’s innocence is shattered in a vicious attack, and Faythe is determined to seek vengeance and justice for her sister, and later, her family.  Armed with a knife and a burning obsession, Faythe fights the superstitions and injustices that have led to her family’s destruction. 

Book Links:
Goodreads | Amazon.in | Amazon.com

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