Virtual Book Tour: Our Song by Lynda Smith Hoggan #blogtour #interview #giveaway #memoir #nonfiction #rabtbooktours @RABTBookTours - A Life Through Books

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Virtual Book Tour: Our Song by Lynda Smith Hoggan #blogtour #interview #giveaway #memoir #nonfiction #rabtbooktours @RABTBookTours


Date Published: 10-11-2022

Publisher: She Writes Press

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In 1972 rural Pennsylvania, the author, a white college student, fell head over heels in love with an African-American friend of a friend. With their schools hours apart, they forged an intimate connection such as neither had ever had through letters. But racist parents, a jealous friend, and their own mistakes caused them to lose each other. Forty years later, they might have another chance.



Can you tell us a little about the process of getting this book published? How did you come up with the idea and how did you start?

I knew back in the 1980’s that I wanted to write about my first love, focusing on the incredibly creative letters he wrote me while we were hours apart in college. But I didn’t start it until 2014 when a wildfire that threatened my home could have destroyed the letters. It may sound odd now, but the impetus to publish was that I didn’t want to die of COVID without getting my story out there, so I applied to publish with hybrid publisher She Writes Press, and my book became Our Song: a Memoir of Love and Race.


What surprised you most about getting your book published?

That legally I could not quote my lover’s letters without his permission. I thought that because the letters were mine, I “owned” them. But it turns out that while I own the physical letters, I don’t “own” his words. It was very disappointing that he wouldn’t give permission, so I had to use short excerpts and paraphrase them.


Tell us a little about what you do when you aren’t writing.                                 

I’m mostly retired but still teach community college 12 weeks out of the year. I moved from Southern California after 40+ years to Northern California, and during the COVID pandemic, so I’m still working on getting used to my new community and making friends. I belong to a writing group. I’ve been working out, trying to regain strength that I lost about 8 years ago when I became partially disabled. I read a lot, cook some, and love to go camping and dance to live music when I’m able.


As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Twice I’ve had that first thrill of publication:  in my 20’s, when I had some poems featured in a women’s anthology, then in my early 60’s when a piece was accepted by the Los Angeles Times. Writers doubt ourselves a lot, and those publications give us validation to keep sharing our stories.


Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I wish I had a formula, but I don’t. I’m interested in women’s lives and stories, so I draw from my own experiences. Sometimes huge, life-changing ones like in the subject of my book Our Song: a Memoir of Love and Race. Sometimes small moments that illuminate a truth or foible about human nature. Either in my writing group or on my own, I start with a vignette and see if I grows into something more.


What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

Recently I got some feedback from a contest I entered. I didn’t win, but the ratings and comments were mostly quite positive. Therefore it was hard to see my writing rated as “Good,” as opposed to “Very good” or “Perfect.” (OK, I didn’t really expect Perfect. 😊) But even tougher is when a reviewer didn’t seem to “get” something about my story. I’d like to think it’s because they didn’t read carefully. But equally likely is the answer that I didn’t explain it clearly enough.


What has been your best accomplishment as a writer?

Taking it from a someday fantasy to a today reality. Even when it comes mostly from my own memories, writing a book is a huge undertaking. Making it a story with an arc and showing conflict and character development. Knowing that it will likely take years. All the while trying to create a presence with a website, blog, smaller publications, etc. I am not sure I could have done it without the mentorship of Susan J. Tweit, award-winning author of 13 books and the most patient soul ever.


How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Interesting question! The first book I started is a novel about a coyote, and I haven’t given up on that one, it’s just on a back burner. The second was a self-help book about food and sex for women. I paused that book to work on my memoir after the pivotal wildfire, but I may be about to go back to it. And I’m contemplating a sequel to Our Song. Plenty to keep me busy, that’s for sure!

And many thanks to A Life Through Books for interest in my story!




About the Author

Lynda Smith Hoggan is Professor Emeritus of health and human sexuality at Mt. San Antonio College in Southern California. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,  Westwind UCLA Journal of the Arts, Cultural Daily, and more. This is her first book.


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