Tami Hoag (Website | Facebook) is the New York Times bestselling author and at the time of this post has thirteen consecutive best sellers. Ms. Hoag was kind enough to take the time and answer a few questions, her responses are both enlightening and thought provoking.
Q. It seemed to me that both “Deeper than the Dead” and “Secrets to the Grave” are somewhat based on actual crimes. Is that so? If yes how do you pick which crime to write about?
A. I’m constantly studying actual cases. Though I never set out to dramatize a real crime, real-life cases always raise questions for me which I will explore in the context of my own stories.
Q. There is an underlying question (intentional or not) in both books about the nature of murderers and the old debate of nature vs. nature especially with Dennis Farman, a disturbed little boy. What is your opinion on the matter?
A. This is the age-old debate regarding criminal behavior, and there is no easy answer. I feel both nature and nurture factor in. There are plenty of kids who have grown up in the same negative environment as Dennis, yet turn in the opposite direction with their lives and become productive members of society. At the same time, I can think of several murderers–even a serial killer or two–who had absolutely unremarkable, normal childhoods, who later in their lives revealed that they experienced violent sexual fantasies as young as 7 years of age. This is what makes studying killers so intriguing.
Q. The book covers are very interesting, people could tell a Tami Hoag book from a mile away. Do you have any input into the cover designs?
A. I have consultation on the covers, which means the art department at Dutton puts together the concept and I can tell them what I like or don’t like. So far, I haven’t had anything to say, but “I love it!” They do a fabulous job.
Q. Do you use social media to promote your books? If so how do you find the experience?
A. I’m a little late coming to the social media party, but I am finally on Facebook and Twitter. I think these are great tools for reaching readers, but it also makes me a little uneasy. It’s wonderful to sit down at my computer to find 465 e-mails from readers, but there is no earthly way I can answer everyone personally, and I don’t like that. I know Jane Reader sitting at home waiting for my reply doesn’t realize that 464 of her fellows also sent me something that day. I know several BIG authors who pay someone to answer their email for them, but I won’t do that. It feels dishonest to me.
Q. What are the challenges of book promotions in the social media age?
A. For me the problem is time. Publishers now expect authors to constantly be on Facebook and updating their websites and so on, but this isn’t my area of expertise. I told someone the other day I take the short bus to Cyberland and I’m afraid to get off when I get there. I already have two careers. In addition to my life as an author, I am a professional equestrian in the Olympic discipline of dressage. These are the two things I am good at, and they take up a combined 12-18 hours a day. When am I supposed become a web marketing genius?
Thank you Tami for your wonderful and thoughtful answers.
Zohar – Man of la Book