Episode 26: Christina Hoag

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Night in L.A. can be heavy as a medieval cloak or it can sparkle and crackle. It can burn you with its current, protect you or betray you... -- Skin of Tattoos, Christina Hoag Christina Hoag is a journalist, nonfiction author and novelist. Her thrillers are just that -- thrilling rides with young people on the verge of adulthood and already mired in life-and-death situations. Complex characters and interwoven relationships that form, not a net, but a sticky web that traps her protagonists as they fight to escape the consequences of their own dangerous choices. Skin of Tattoos features Mags, just released from prison and trying to escape the gang life that landed him there, while Girl on the Brink is a very different examination of violence and predation. Christina's nonfiction book, Peace in the Hood, was co-written with Aquil Basheer and digs deep into his program to combat gang violence. Their book is on the syllabi of several university programs, and Basheer himself has been featured in two recent documentaries: License to Operate and The Black Jacket. Plus, I promised to link to a great interview Christina recently did with a fabulous interviewer -- herself! I gave a shout-out to my favorite Golden Age mystery writer, Ngaio Marsh. Artists in Crime is my favorite (and if you don't need to read the books in order, a great place to begin), but Colour Scheme takes place in Christina's native New Zealand. Looking for one with both New Zealand and sheep in the murder? Yup, Ngaio Marsh has that, too. Check out Died in the Wool. Christina, meanwhile, remembers her favorite children's mystery author, and one whose books I also devoured as a kid: British author Enid Blyton. Blyton was prolific; it's hard to go wrong with any of them, but the mystery series are, in particular, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven. There are so many others, I'm not going to try to guide you through them, but I will toss you over to the Enid Blyton Society. Enjoy! To learn more about Christina, check out her website and her Facebook page. And for a great read, turn to any of her books! -- Laura Transcript of Interview with Christina Hoag Laura Brennan: My guest today is a journalist, a novelist, and a nonfiction author. Christina Hoag’s novels, Skin of Tattoos and Girl on the Brink, both focus on young people caught in life or death situations -- and both are all the more terrifying because those situations are so real, and so frighteningly common. Christina, thank you for joining me. Christina Hoag: Thank you Laura. It's great to be here. LB: Before we talk about your work, I'd love to talk a little bit about your background. You were born in New Zealand? CH: Yes. I was born in New Zealand. I lived in a number of countries, my family moved around a lot -- which is kind of an understatement. But I ended up in the United States when I was 13, in New Jersey to be exact. So I'm sort of a global nomad. LB: I wanted to sneak in here that everything I know about New Zealand I learned from Ngaio Marsh. CH: Oh, great! Great. That's great that you've heard of her and read her. Yes, she's one of New Zealand's literary stars. LB: Oh, she's phenomenal. I love her. CH: Yes. LB: I'm sure New Zealand is more than murders, mind you. CH: Yes. There are a lot of sheep there. LB: A lot of sheep. Okay. That sounds like, actually, a couple of her books. So you grew up all over the world and landed in New Jersey. And then, how did you get into journalism? CH: Mainly because I loved to write. And I won a prize, when I was six years old, in New Zealand, one little prize at school for writing interesting stories. So it's something, I'd always loved to write, I was a voracious reader growing up, reading Enid Blyton and The Famous Five, The Secret Seven mysteries, you know, those were juvenile mysteries written by the British author Enid Blyton. So I always knew I wanted to write stories.

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