Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview with JAMES HOCH

James Hoch is a retired music teacher who spends much of his time RVing with his wife and only child, Ruby.  Oh, and he's currently involved in three different writing projects.  Not bad for someone who's "retired," eh?

What made you decide to begin writing after retiring from your music education career?

For me, it was a need to express creativity. While in the university environment, I had the opportunity to do a lot of composing and receiving performances, but after retiring and starting our adventures with RVing fulltime, there just were not the connections to receive performances of what I wrote. Writing stories is something that has lain dormant in me for a long time. I always had a secret desire to try my hand at it. So when we retired, it became a perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

My first writing endeavors were some articles for a marathon magazine that were published. The success there planted the seed for more writing. I remember the day I started writing an actual novel. It was in December 2007. I had just come out of a Harry Potter movie and ideas for a young adult sci-fi book started brewing in my head. I took the brave step to actually start putting words to the paper. The end result came to fruition in the Fall of 2008 and SynergEbooks published it in April 2009.

I have two genres that I am currently writing in: young adult sci-fi and horror/paranormal romance. I kind of have to laugh when I see the two genres side by side. My wife reminds me not to let the young adult stumble into the steamy vampire romance book.

How much book material do you get from your RVing?

Actually, I think it helps because I get to see more places, meet more people and be involved with new situations. Currently, I’ve taken a temporary sub job in the local high school where we are living for the winter. I am the interim ISS supervisor. ISS stands for “in school suspension”…where they put all the bad little boys and girls. While in this position, I wrote a short horror story about a creature that is in the storage room of ISS and provides the last step of punishment. My wife and I together are writing a short horror story about a laundromat, which we occasionally have to frequent.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

This one is easy…not getting discouraged and losing faith in myself. It is very exciting to receive notice from a publisher that says your book is going to be published. The champagne pops, there’s wild dancing, and you are elevated off the ground for weeks. Then, the reality of marketing and networking to get your name out and about sets in. I remember when I was composing how hard it was to get people to listen to new music. Most folks feel threatened by a living composer and want to stay with the three b’s: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Oh, and of course, Mozart. I think the same may be evident in the writing world. People gravitate to the writers on the top of the NY Times bestseller list or Oprah’s book club, and it is difficult for a new author to get noticed. I have vowed not to give up, to work harder at getting my name out, and to become a better writer. Having someone say they enjoyed your story goes along way…of course, a fatter royalty check is nice, too!

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

On January 2nd, SynergEbooks released my new book. The title is “Reveka’s Return.” It is the first book in a series called “The Crimson Pursuit.” It is about an astral vampire who returns to corporeal form. Her life in a new body becomes disrupted when a vicious vampire hunter is sent to capture her. A powerful master vampire wants her secret on how she transferred from an astral plane to an earthly existence.

The book is currently available from and will soon be available at Fictionwise, Barnes & Noble, and other ebook sites.

I’ve always wanted to write about a vampire and since writing this book, I’ve discovered there is an enormous pool of people who love vampire stories. So I jumped in the crimson waters and have something floating around for them to read.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

Currently, I have three projects going. I am a good ways into book two of “The Crimson Pursuit” series. The title is “Reveka’s Revenge.” That book should come out sometime in 2010. Additionally, I have significant progress on a sequel to my first book. It’s called “Milford Spitz and the Search for Einstein.” Also, there is the short story that my wife and I are writing called “The Laundromat.” It’s really been fun writing this short story together and letting our imaginations collide. I have a few other ideas for short stories.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

At first, I tried the process of sending queries out to agents and publishers. It became apparent that I’d have more luck at winning the lottery. To this day, there are queries I sent out that I have never heard back. A writer friend gave me some good advice that has proven valuable and I think it’s something that I would pass along. She said to look at the eBook publishers. I found several. One in particular noted that a response would be given in about two weeks time. I received a quick reply that she was interested and after a couple of suggestions, the next thing you know I have a contract and several months later a book released. I have been delighted with the communication and hard work that Deb Staples at SynergEbooks provides. Over the last year, the whole business of eBooks is expanding exponentially, i.e. with the Kindle, Nook, Sony Ereader, etc. It’s exciting to be apart of the next step in reading’s evolution.

Tell us about your musical endeavors.

For about 38 years, I taught music at the secondary and university levels. My last gig was at Winona State University in Winona, MN. Beginning around 1980, I got my first composition published. Shortly after that, my wife and I started our own small publishing company. We produced two CDs of my original compositions that are available at CD Baby, iTunes, and other download sites. It’s exciting to see that people from all over the world have downloaded my compositions. I wrote a great deal for the flute and in particular my favorite flutist and wife, Zoe Shepherd. While living in Winona, I became really good friends with an organist there, Patricia Lundeen, and was thrilled to write for the pipe organ. It is an instrument that is so underrated. It truly is the King of instruments.

Do you have a writing schedule? Word counts? Page counts? Other routines?

I do not have any particular schedule or routine since I am still working part-time. I would love to be able to get up every morning and write from 8 to 5 like Stephen King, but there is still a need for the day job. Maybe in a few years when I am fully retired, I can set up a writing routine. For now, I try to write every day or do some sort of marketing, publicity, or social networking. Generally, I like large blocks of time and preferably alone without distractions.

FUN QUESTION: Tell us about Miss Ruby.

Ruby is our only child. She is a ten-year old beagle and blue tick hound mix. Her occupation is to mostly sleep and provide us with lots of love. She is addicted to snacks--mostly pupperoni, denta stix, and bully sticks. One interesting note is that she actually smiles, and I mean a big, curl up the lips, and show lots of teeth kind of smile.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My web site is:
I have a blog at: and it is linked to Goodreads and Author Central at (


  1. Hi Linda,

    When you have a chance, please stop by my blog. I have an award for you.

  2. I love this interview. You are such a personable and upbeat person. I also had a beagle mix, and she could smile like a talk show host. My question is how do you market your two genres so that teenagers don't accidently buy your steamier stuff?