Today we have the very busy Gill Hoffs on the blog reviewing her year.
2013 has been a great year for you. Do you have a favourite memory professionally?
Taking the final proofs of my shipwreck book with me to meet the descendant of a key figure as we laid roses on their ancestor’s grave was definitely up there. I’d tracked him down online and before I approached him (through his incredibly lovely wife) he’d had no idea about his relative’s involvement in the Australian Gold Rush or the tragedy his great-grandfather had been a part of. Receiving the first advance review was just wonderful, too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the rest!
And how about a favourite moment from 2013 generally?
I try to avoid world news where possible, and the squalor of UK politics in particular, so I’ve generally only been excited by discoveries of old shipwrecks, ancient tunics revealed by melting ice, and mammoths. But in general there have been plenty of happy moments duly celebrated with Nutella, such as the inclusion of stories from my book ‘Wild: a collection’ (out now from Pure Slush http://www.lulu.com/gb/en/shop/gill-hoffs/wild/paperback/product-20190137.html) in an American college course, and the unexpected joy of our car passing its MOT.
Favourite book in 2013?
I really enjoyed Michael J. Malone’s follow-up to ‘Blood Tears’, ‘A Taste For Malice’ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Taste-Malice-Michael-J-Malone/dp/1907869751. It kept me reading into the wee small hours and was worth the yawns and grouchiness the next day. I found it refreshing to read a psychological crime thriller with a male protagonist who wasn’t obsessed with alcohol or the lack of it – especially since it’s set in Scotland, and as far as the rest of the world’s concerned, babies there are weaned on whisky and wee green bottles of Buckfast.
Favourite film of 2013?
Since we have a six year old and no cinema within walking distance, we rarely get to the cinema, and when we do, it’s to see something with him. So although ‘Gravity’ is wowing me with its terrifying trailers, I’ve actually watched ‘Monsters University’ all the way through and loved it, so yep, that’d be it.
If I can stretch the definition a bit, I’d say the boxset of Joss Whedon’s ‘Dollhouse’, though, as I couldn’t get enough of it and would stay up ‘til 2am despite it being a school night just to see what happened next. I’d even go so far as to say that it was better, more mindbending and thought-provoking, than ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. And that’s saying something.
Favourite song of the year?
The song I’ve listened to the most is probably ‘Birdhouse in your soul’ by They Might Be Giants, though it came out when I was a kid, back in 1989. My son became obsessed with it and insisted on listening to this on repeat during car journeys. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Am-BF7ObCI He’d worn out the Divine Comedy CD containing his former favourite, what he referred to as “the sheep song” but was actually ‘The gin-soaked boy’ (the chorus goes “Ba-baa-ba-baa-ba-ba-ba”…). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXP1oLtPyDA I’m not a fan of ipod-type things.
I listened to a lot of Blur while working, and to ‘Best Days’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyWMFaHOEzM on repeat when I was trying to process the death of a loved one. It was just the melody I needed to hear, there wasn’t any great significance to the lyrics or the title. And ‘Suicide is painless (theme from M*A*S*H*)’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gO7uemm6Yo while I worked over the sadder parts of the shipwreck book, too, mainly because I had the film on to keep me company while I researched/edited/wrote.
As for a song that was actually released this year, hmm … there were a few. The NIN/Carly Rae Jepsen mashup made me laugh and boogie in my rocking chair http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yArRnznVJwY and the reactions of some of my online friends to it were priceless. ‘La la la’ by Naughty Boy ft. Sam Smith is catchy and gloriously rich with sounds, and the video is a masterpiece. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O1_3zBUKM8 When I looked it up on Wikipedia, the explanation of Bolivian legends really stuck in my head, and I recommend re-watching it after reading.
Any downsides for you in 2013?
Glandular fever (it made me its bitch before we moved back to Warrington from Scotland last year, and has kept me in line and wiped out ever since) and the loss of a family member in May. I’d say something perky or upbeat about the latter, but it’d be a lie, and a crass, abominable one at that. Iain Banks died too and I’ve never been so gutted about the death of someone I barely knew. He was truly magnificent and I can’t bear to read his work again – yet.
Are you making resolutions for 2014?
No, not really, just continuing to chip away at my To Do lists. Shaving my legs more often, I suppose (my son and my husband both complain about my “spiky legs”, the swine, but I’d rather be reading than concentrating on not skinning my legs – I get mental images of the chaps in our local takeaway using a buzzy thing to slice strips from the doner kebab, urgh!). Smiling at strangers. Learning how to play proper tunes on my trombone. Any Radiohead or Manics hits suitable for that?
What are you hoping for from 2014?
My book “The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic” (out January 16th from Pen & Sword – see http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Sinking-of-RMS-Tayleur/p/6053/) to be a success and do the people who set sail from Liverpool on the ill-fated ship proud. To dive the wreck in the waters off Dublin, preferably on a really calm day, and visit the memorials and graves of those involved. And to sign with the right agent.
If Santa was to bring you any one thing you wanted on Xmas morning, what would it be?
Photographs of the captain, ex-convict, and ship’s surgeon who ‘star’ in my shipwreck book. Failing that, I’d like first editions of all the Dick Francis paperbacks (no matter how tatty they might be, purely because I love contemporary editions and covers) or a boxset of ‘Gilmore Girls’. And chocolate. Always chocolate. I know the question says ‘one thing’ but a) I’m crap at maths, and b) I like backup options.
Gill Hoffs lives in the north of England with a farty cat and never quite enough chocolate. Her work is available widely online and in print. See http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com for details, email her at email@example.com, or tell her a joke @GillHoffs on twitter.