I pretty much wrote creatively as soon as I could write at all. I remember being in grade one and writing all sorts of little things on the computer at school, blithely indifferent to spelling, grammar, or anything else but the fun I was having. Oddly, I didn’t realize I wanted to do it professionally until partway through college — before that, it was just a thing I did in the background because I felt like it.
When I was seven I wrote “Samuel and Alice,” which was my first “novel”. It somehow had four chapters but was only two pages long, plus a title page. It had two children disguised as knights, plus a dragon who spoke in a weird font. My younger brother was so impressed that he wrote his own, “Rachel and Jonathan,” which was really just mine with the names changed.
What is the best advice you have ever been given from a publisher/fellow author/opinionated reader?
The first real author I ever met told me I needed to join a writing group. Now, not every writer believes in writing groups, and not all of the advice you’ll find in them is helpful. But personally, that was exactly what I needed. I had to develop my skills, but even more than that, I had to learn to deal with showing strangers my stories — and knowing they might not enjoy them very much. Writing groups throw you right into that.
The first time, even in a cushy newbie part of the group, it was TERRIFYING. I actually couldn’t do it on my own, and had to enlist friends to badger me into it. But I gradually learned to thicken my skin, and nowadays I’m hard to faze. I have trusted betas who can rant about how my characters are too stupid to live and I’ll just laugh and work out how to fix it. But every once in a while, I still do something new that brings the nervousness back, and I have to deal with it again. It’s a process.
What is it about speculative fiction that appeals to you, as a reader and/or an author?
I think in some respects our culture is very blinkered. We’re taught to think of our bills, our waistlines, and whatever’s in front of our faces. Spec fic reminds us that there are whole UNIVERSES of other things to think about, and some of them have never been thought before. That can be a comforting thing or it can be deeply unsettling, but either way I love it.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I go to school. I’m studying up for a M.Sc. and researching things only data miners and social psychologists will care about. I sing soprano and help out with church music. I navigate a set of strange and unusual personal relationships. I read, needless to say. I worry about every topic it is humanly possible to worry about. And I run an online freeform RPG where the players are fantasy steampunk police. (Before that, it was D&D with a sentient planet.)
Is there a book that you think would change the world (for better or worse) if every person was to read it?
I kind of think every grownup should read Jung. And every five-year-old should read The Sneetches. But I also think that there are way too many different kinds of people and not all of them will benefit in the same way from the same books, so when I take over the world, I will not impose such rules! The best change would be if everyone just read, full stop.
The Hulk is now a character in your Imaginarium story: how would it change?
Centipede Girl and Centipede woman are suddenly interrupted in their hunting by a large green angry man! (How did he get into the sewer? By smashing, of course.) Hulk tries to smash Centipede Woman, but finds that Hulk fists are strangely ineffective against nebulous clouds of centipedes. Centipede Girl runs away. Centipede Woman is not afraid of Hulk; she turns him into Centipede Hulk. Centipede Hulk crawls on and/or eats the entire world. Then eventually he stops freaking out and turns back into Centipede Bruce Banner, and Centipede Girl finally has someone to hug. Happy ending!
Ada Hoffmann is not Ada's real name. She's also not really an elf, kitten, robot, Burgess Shale type fauna, snow leopard, space pod, or disembodied intelligence drifting through the Internet at any given time.
She's not sure what she actually is, but it involves being autistic, going to a Canadian university, messing with computers, tabletop roleplaying, singing soprano, petting cats, and having uncannily low self-esteem. Oh, and writing speculative fiction.
Ada's writing has appeared in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Ada thinks this is probably a good sign!