Karen Hofmann, published author and English faculty member at TRU, discussed and read segments of her new book What is Going to Happen Next, at TRU’s Arts Colloquium Series last Thursday, March 29.
At the reading, Hofmann discussed how the book came to be. She admitted that one of her writing interests is rural British Columbia and said that she had decided on the province as a setting partially because she grew up in rural B.C.
“I’m interested in the whole culture,” she said. “You get recluses and renegades and ruffians in rural B.C., the cowboys if you’d like.”
Hofmann noted that she wanted to write about the culture and those people because it’s what she personally finds interesting. In the question and answer session afterwards, she also added that she writes about B.C. in comparison to other places because it’s what she knows.
“Parts of this book are a little bit borrowed from my experience growing up in rural B.C.,” Hofmann said. “Most of it is stories I’ve gathered from other people in other conversations”.
When discussing the title, Hofmann said that it was originally a “joke working-title” and that she had just been simply calling it What is Going to Happen Next, but the publisher’s loved it and it just stuck.
The book itself is in the perspectives of Cleo, Mandalay and Cliff, 3 of 5 siblings in the Lund family. It follows their lives as adults after they have all become separated as children because of a tragic event. In the novel, they meet again after being apart for so many years and learn about each other once again.
During the reading, Hofmann read 5 different excerpts from her book, each near the beginning to avoid giving away too many spoilers. Hofmann read back and forth through the different perspectives, from Cleo as a young girl to her as a mother and to the different successes and struggles of Mandalay and Cliff.
When Hofmann finished reading, there was a short question and answer period for the audiences’ inquiries. When asked about the complications of changing perspectives in a novel or short story, Hofmann said that “[as writers] we teach our readers how to read our novel or short story in the first few pages or segments”.
She also noted that writers will establish patterns in their writing so that the reader can realize “this is how the story works, technically”.
Hofmann’s book is available at Chapters in Kamloops and it is the third book she has published thus far. Her first novel, After Alice, was published in 2014. She also had a book of poems published in 2008 titled Water Strider.