Meet a Grubbie: Allison Hoch
GrubStreet runs on coffee, printer ink, and community. This series features just some of the Grubbies who make our community strong. In this edition, meet Grub Instructor Allison Hoch. You can catch Allison in person on Saturday, September 16th, in her one-day class, Build Your Own Event: A Marketing Workshop.
What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
My muse, from a young age, has always been Ray Bradbury. His luscious prose combined with irresistible joie de vivre would make him an excellent dinner companion. We’d have a picnic in a park, surrounded by kids flying kites, lovers watching the clouds, and families riding the slightly-creepy, time-reversing carousel.
How do you beat a bout of writer’s block?
When I’m in the middle of writing a longer piece, and hit the infamous block, that usually means I have an important decision to make in my story. I beat the block by, well, beating my head against the problem: I write at it from different angles; I complain to my spouse, my friends, random strangers; I dream about it at night; I try to ignore it for a few days even as it chases the corners of my consciousness. Eventually I either find a way to write through it or write around it.
If I’m facing the blank page, I usually find the biggest block is trusting myself to begin something new. Once I give myself permission to be experimental and imperfect, I can usually bury the block under a sea of new words (even if I need to discard many of them later).
What are you working on right now?
I’m rounding the bend on Draft 3.5 of a YA fantasy novel that involves ghosts, grief, prejudice, a mystery, quite a few explosions, a sprinkling of steampunk and an extremely persistent bird. I’m definitely in that difficult headspace of “is this my story to tell?” but I’m working hard to make sure it operates on many different levels of truth. I’m hoping to have the manuscript in shape to submit to agents by the end of the year.
I’m also working one-on-one with authors on marketing and event planning. This September, I’m teaching a Build Your Own Event workshop at GrubStreet and a panel on working with bookstores at The Writer’s Loft, so I’m also preparing for those events. Maybe I’ll get to meet you at one of them!
What are you reading?
I’m halfway through Ken Liu’s short story collection The Paper Menagerie, and I highly recommend it. It is everything I love about speculative short fiction--insightful, evocative, tragic, playful--and Liu’s writing is impeccable. He writes to the heart of what it means to be displaced; how language transcends time, space, and country; and how technology is transforming us as human beings.
Hands down, I’m an iced tea drinker. Preferably herbal, unsweetened, or with just a hint of honey.
Do you have a favorite local, independent bookstore? Where and why?
I’m terribly biased; my favorite independent bookstore is Wellesley Books in Wellesley, MA because I used to work there. I’ve seen how hard working and dedicated their employees are. They take huge pride in curating the books they shelve and the events they host. Their booksellers are knowledgeable, friendly, funny, and very well read. They also stock beautiful gift items and stationery, used books, journals, calendars, and pretty much I can’t go in without buying something.
Want to find out more about all the other amazing people who make the GrubStreet community what it is? Check them all out here! And while you're at it, see what other classes are on offer at Grub this fall.
Allison Pottern Hoch is a writer and event coach with a decade of experience in marketing, publicity, sales, and event planning. She spent four years promoting academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a bookseller and event coordinator. She organized, hosted, and promoted over 150 events during her tenure, ranging in size from intimate workshops and lunches to multi-media events with over 700 attendees. She worked with veteran authors, celebrities, and debut authors alike. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University where she coordinated the Adamson Visiting Writers series. Allison is currently working on her second novel and teaching courses on writing and marketing at Grub Street and The Writer's Loft. For more information on her workshops and coaching services, visit http://www.pottern.comSee other articles by Allison Hoch