Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Conversation with Novelist Les Hoffman

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Les Hoffman

We are delighted to welcome author Les Hoffman to Omnimystery News today.

Les's new action thriller is Sudden Justice (Oak Tree Press; September 2015 trade paperback) and we recently had the opportunity to talk with him about it.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about the lead character of Sudden Justice.

Les Hoffman
Photo provided courtesy of
Les Hoffman

Les Hoffman: I've always enjoyed stories about bold people that can make a difference on their own. Particularly, I'm an admirer of the American spirit, the belief in the power of the individual to impact the world. Heroes that risk personal danger to help others. Overseas, this might be called a "cowboy mentality". Whatever you call it, it's a real thing, and it's found more in this country than anywhere else in the world.

I've written Sudden Justice with a bit of a twist on the vigilante theme. The protagonist, Bryce Daniels, is a family man with a unique skill-set with which I am somewhat familiar. In addition to his physical abilities, he is a master of disguise and deception, and an engineer by vocation. These capabilities provide a fertile toolbox of options to tackle the variety of challenges he faces. My background as an amateur boxer and actor, and Professional Engineer, help provide a realism to the story.

OMN: Is this the first of a series? And if so, does the character develop over the course of a series?

LH: Yes, with the sequel scheduled to be released late next year. With respect to the character developing, I can see where if something is popular, there would be a reluctance to change it; however, for those people that take the time to read multiple books in the series, I think it would be unrealistic and too predictable/boring not to allow the characters to develop over time.

Although I generally know where the characters are headed, the details of their actions are not known until I sit down and write, and allow myself to become immersed in their personalities and history. This is one of the things that makes writing so much fun and adventurous.

OMN: Into which genre would you place Sudden Justice?

LH: Sudden Justice and its sequel probably best fit in the broad action/thriller genre, and more narrowly in the category of vigilante justice.

I read and enjoy a lot of these same types of books, so I think I understand what the typical reader of this genre is looking for; i.e. it is easier for me to relate to this audience. On the negative side, putting one's book in a certain category will certainly keep some people from reading it.

There is a special allure to the topic of vigilante justice.

Most people like to believe that they can always turn to the law to protect themselves in an unjust situation. Civilization rests on the rule of law, so an attack on the fundamental principle of due process is unsettling, representing an attack on our way of life.

Therein lies the rub of vigilantism.

On the one hand, taking the law into one's own hands is a violation of the fundamental due process principle that allows us to thrive as a society. Who among us is wise enough to replace the checks and balances of judge, jury, and executioner? On the other hand, there are many situations where the law is inadequate to correct an obvious injustice. These situations represent a valid, ethical challenge to the rule of law for every circumstance. They are the driving force of vigilantism.

Although we can always strive to improve and evolve our laws, there never will be a system that will deliver justice in every instance. By extension, there will always be a role, arguably a need, for vigilantism.

OMN: Tell us something about Sudden Justice that isn't mentioned in the publisher's synopsis.

LH: On a humorous note, there is an extremely large and intimidating male boxer dog introduced in Sudden Justice. His name is Holmes, and he becomes a major player in the sequel, Border Justice. We actually have three female pet boxers at home, including one named Holmes. They are all American Boxers, which is a much smaller breed than the commonly known German Boxer. Holmes was our first "small boxer", after many years of German boxers. When we got Holmes we were not aware there was a smaller breed, and thought she was a genetic anomaly. We nicknamed her "Baby Holmes". She is also the sweetest dog we've ever had. These attributes are in direct contrast to her rough and tumble male namesake in Sudden Justice.

OMN: How would you tweet a summary of the book?

LH: An action/adventure thriller where the protagonist, Bryce Daniels, applies his own brand of vigilante justice from the Texas Hill Country to the coastal wilds of Alabama.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

LH: I like to spend considerable time outlining the story before I begin any detailed writing. There are certain elements that I believe are important to any good action/thriller and I want to ensure that my story will include these basic elements. Once I feel I have a believable and interesting plot line with ample opportunity to include the required elements, I begin detailed writing.

I don't consider my outline overly restrictive to my day-to-day writing. In fact, once I get started, I rarely look back on it as I generally remember where I'm headed in the big picture. Getting there (book writing) is a lot of fun and an adventure to me. My wife always tells me I look energized after a writing session. Having empathy with your characters and writing their stories has some similarities to acting. I feel that my on-stage community theatre experience is an extension of my writing experience and vice-versa.

OMN: And where do you most often find yourself writing?

LH: I have a private, second story guest apartment over my garage that serves as my "writing studio". I generally leave the windows and door open, facing an outdoor deck and capturing the Gulf breeze (I live on the Texas coast). My three dogs wander in and out while I lay on a love seat and write on my laptop. I find the environment relaxing and stimulating all at the same time.

OMN: How true are you to the settings in your books?

LH: I like to provide a realistic, honest feel to the locales in my books. I may sometimes give a place a fictional name, but the regional influences are based on my knowledge of the area. Sudden Justice is mainly set in South Central Texas and coastal Alabama, places I have lived in and know well.

I believe that one of the more interesting aspects of novels is the chance to learn about the locales described. Geography, history, race, religion, attitudes, and politics of a region are varied and interesting and provide a colorful backdrop for the story.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests?

LH: Since I retired from engineering and engineering management, I have taken up boxing, acting, and writing. I also enjoy volunteering at our local elementary school and animal shelter. I believe that acting and writing are very complementary.

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Les Hoffman is a retired research executive living in Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, a licensed professional engineer, and an amateur actor and boxer. He and his wife Cherie have three dogs to keep them company while they prepare for their next career — grandchildren. Les Hoffman couples his technical, stage, and fighting experience with a passion for American heroism.

For more information about the author, please find him on Facebook.

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Sudden Justice by Les Hoffman

Sudden Justice by Les Hoffman

An Action Thriller

Publisher: Oak Tree Press

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)

A Mexican drug lord expands his brutal enterprise into South Texas. An overbearing business executive entraps the women in his employ. A Southern patriarch and his son control a small Alabama town with an iron fist and a thieving hand. These situations have one thing in common. The perpetrators have found a way to operate outside the law, while the victims have nowhere to turn … or do they?

Bryce Daniels is a man who understands the pain and frustration of feeling helpless against the power of money and the arrogance that it breeds Resurrected from a troubled youth after the death of his father, he is now a family man, engineering professor, and community theater actor with a flair for costuming. But behind these idyllic circumstances, he uses all his skills to help those who find themselves outside the rule of law.

Daniels travels from the hills of Texas to the coastal wilds of Alabama to hunt a ruthless enemy, while being hunted himself by an investigative journalist piecing together his vigilante activities. The ensuing roller coaster of events culminates in a dire threat to himself, his family, and the belief system he has built his life around.

Sudden Justice by Les Hoffman

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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