Recently, Erik Hofstatter teamed up with Sinister Grin Press and published his debut novel, Toroa. I’ve been a big fan of Erik for some time now and I was eager to hear more about this story. I’ll be reviewing Toroa in June. Thanks to Erik for such in-depth answers. I do hope you enjoy.
TGR: Erik, Toroa is your first novel-length work. It’s been a long and sometimes difficult process from what I gather. Can you tell us about the book’s genesis and the journey to publication?
EH: I wrote stories of various lengths over the years and a novel was the next step on the pyramid. A monumental challenge. My approach was unconventional and rather foolish. I figured that the easiest method would be to write segments of 10,000 words, and so I outlined five parts. Each part underwent a gruelling process of multiple drafts, polishing, beta reading, and editing. When part five was finished, I simply thought that I would join them together like some Origami centipede. How silly of me. When I returned to the beginning, I was shocked. Parts one and two were so poorly written that the first 20,000 words had to be completely overhauled. I butchered the manuscript from 50,000 to 40,000. The process dragged on for two years. And that was just a tip of the iceberg.
The road to publication was less arduous (praise Cthulhu!). Sinister Grin Press was my number one choice and I was fortunate that they accepted. SGP dispatched the manuscript to their own beta readers, all pinpointing myriad issues I had to defend. A few more rewrites followed. Then one final edit by SGP’s chief editor. The sheer amount of hard work to breathe life into this book was astounding. I hope readers will appreciate what we’ve done. If not the story, then at least the effort.
TGR: Waitangi (the place in which Toroa is set) is a town in New Zealand. I went there many years ago when I travelled around the North Island, the Bay of Islands, and in particular, Waitangi is a beautiful part of the world. There is a strong Maori link to Toroa. Why did you decide to incorporate Maori culture into the story and what is it about the culture that attracted you in the first place?
EH: Dude, I’m seriously trying not to hate you right now. New Zealand (Waitangi in particular) is my dream destination. A place of beauty and wonder I can only imagine. The name means weeping watersin Maori, which makes it ideal for the tragedy that surrounds Toroa. Waitangi is also part of the Chatham Islands. Incidentally, I reside in a place called Chatham. And it’s a shithole. The opposite of Waitangi, in fact. How ironic.
I fantasised about the untamed landscapes of New Zealand since I was a teenager (I was addicted to shows like Xena: Warrior PrincessandHercules: The Legendary Journeys, not to mention The Lord of the Rings). If I ever yearned for exile, and I often do, that’s where I would hide. I was intrigued by the Maori warrior culture and started researching popular legends and local mythos. Roimata toroa (tears of the albatross) grabbed my attention and I decided to incorporate that into the story. The Moriori people respected the seabird for spiritual reasons, and their culture is rich with mysteries and beliefs beyond our comprehension. As I plotted, all the pieces fell into place. It was an ideal setting within a fascinating culture.
TGR: I’ve found your stories to be very human in the way your characters often overcome hardship in some way. It’s a kind of urban horror you write featuring real, lifelike people and I think that is why I find your stories so easy to connect to. With Toroa, it looks as if this trend will continue. Is this the case?
EH: Thank you. That’s exactly what I’m striving for. Something real. Something readers can identify and connect with. Gary McMahon and Nathan Ballingrud are the legends of urban horror. It’s what I’m hoping to mirror in my stories, too─that mortal coil. Toroa is bursting with flavour, but yes, underneath lies a human monster. How we transition into one is the premise of this book.
TGR: Zach McCain did the cover art for Toroa. You must be pretty stoked with the image? Did you have any input into the direction the image took?
EH: Absolutely. Zach’s creative eye captured the spirit of the story perfectly. I was consulted by SGP prior to any work being undertaken and provided elements that I thought should be present, but my direction lacked detail. Zach deserves all the credit. I think initially, he used paint and canvas but switched to traditional pencil later.
TGR: What inspires you to write? What influences your writing outside of the world of fiction?
EH: A question I asked myself many times. In life, people come and go, but stories stay with you. Always. Sometimes I feel like everyone I ever loved deserted me and telling stories of my failures is all I have left. That also applies to my influences outside the world of fiction. Life. Our daily interactions, observations, experiences, and general worldview.
TGR: As a writer, you must be thinking about your next project already. What do you have coming up and what are you working on now?
EH: Last week, my short story Shrivelled Tongues of Dead Horses was accepted into an ongoing anthology series that I’m a big fan of. What makes me even more excited is that I will be sharing pages with a writer I’ve admired for years. What a strange dream. I devoured his books long before I started writing my own stories, so to be with him side by side is the biggest reward I can hope for. It only took eight years, but I can die in peace now. That’s all I’m permitted to share, but details will be revealed soon. As for future projects, I tend to focus on one story at a time. I’m currently writing a Gothic love novella, somewhere between Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera.
Pick up a copy of Toroa from here.
Visit Erik Hofstatter at his blog here.
Follow this tour with the hashtags: #Toroa
- Publishing Date: May 15, 2018
- Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
- Pages 179
With an introduction by Bram Stoker Award winning author Stephanie Wytovich.
Infants are vanishing all over Waitangi, a small island nestled in the Pacific Ocean. The local tribe believes a colossal albatross is responsible. Worse still, they are convinced that the seabird had been trained to carry out these sinister kidnappings.
On the other side of the globe, in England, a troubled Maori girl falls in love with Aryan — a charismatic fire-breather. As their doomed relationship unfolds, a tragedy strikes, leaving her forever changed. Grieving, she travels to the island in desperate search of her estranged father and seeking answers to her shrouded origins. Will her actions influence the mysterious events occurring on the isle?
Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. Born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic, he roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry.
His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Tales to Terrify and Manor House Show. ‘Rare Breeds’ is out now via Dark Silo Press.
Praise for Toroa–
“Erik Hofstatter is his own brand of mad genius. He’s as fearless as he is emotive, and as twisted as he is fun. In this, his debut novel, Erik displays all the hallmarks of the unique talent proven in his previous works. This book will make you burn, make you scream, make you wish you’d never started it… even as you gather yourself to turn the next page.” – Karen Runge, author of Seeing Double
Praise for Erik Hofstatter –
“… the emotional tug that The Crabian Heartexerts on the reader is palpable. The Crabian Heartis also a coming-of-age tale, one that resonates with the pangs of unrequited love. And as such, it concludes, like all great coming-of-age stories, with a very difficult and painful realisation for the love-struck main character. By the end of its 100 pages you will find yourself both haunted and moved by Hofstatter’s evocative writing.” – Starburst Magazine
“With The Pariahs, Erik Hofstatter has created a stark and chilling vision of a radiation-damaged world and the unfortunate heirs to it. His straightforward, unflinching prose does not shy away from brutality, examining dichotomies of strength and weakness, beauty and ugliness, and the things that truly matter when everything is taken away.” – Bram Stoker Finalist author Mary SanGiovanni
“These horror stories read like sharp, hard blows to the gut. Grab it and give it a read.” – Bram Stoker Finalist John F.D. Taff on Moribund Tales
Would you like to feature?
If you would like to review Toroa or feature Erik with an interview or guest article for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at firstname.lastname@example.org