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Q&A with Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Q: Where are you from/where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Montecito, California, but I left way before Oprah moved in, let alone Meghan and Harry.

Q: What are your hobbies and passions (other than writing)?

I love to take photographs and discover the beauty in the every day, the sideways glance, the closer look. 

I love playing music and singing. I’m a member of the Oregon Old-Time Fiddlers Association (which includes many other acoustic instruments), and I love spending musical time with friends.

Every year I go to the West Cascades Fiddle Camp & Workshops, now at the Emerald Christian Academy in Pleasant Hill, and either learn to play or improve my understanding of an instrument. I have taken mandolin classes several years, fiddle classes several years, and, one year, I learned to play the upright bass. I’ve been playing guitar and singing since I was twelve. This year, I took flat-picking guitar to expand my understanding.

During COVID, I hosted musical jams on my back patio — initially, I took my tape measure and made sure all the chairs were six feet apart. I still host jams when the weather permits, though we’re more relaxed about spacing now.

Q: What sparked you to become a writer, and how did that journey begin?

When I was ten or eleven, I’d get frustrated by how my favorite books ended when I wanted to keep reading. 

I started making up stories about the characters I loved, then started making up my own people and sending them into strange, magical places. Fairyland. Other planets. Space ships. Inspired by what I read and what I saw on TV, I created my own wild worlds. I would tell myself stories every night before I fell asleep.

Q: What’s the strangest writing prompt you’ve ever given or used yourself?

I used to live in Moscow, Idaho, and belonged to the Moscow Moffia (a writing workshop). One year we decided to create an anthology of stories that all started with the sentence, “There were rats in the souffle again.” That was fun!

Q: How do your life experiences shape the way you teach?

I started playing D&D in the late seventies. I didn’t play for long — some of my favorite characters ended up dead in the game and couldn’t be resurrected, and it upset me too much. 

I was intrigued by the concept of rolling up a character. 

Since then, I’ve adapted the idea of rolling dice for different kinds of things to get a story flowing.

Q: What will students learn in your class?

Your brain is a pattern-making powerhouse! Give it three random objects, and it will spin connections between them. Story rises out of this network of connections!

I will give you lists of ingredients, and the dice will help you pick which ones go into your particular story. Every recipe can be different. 

Using your ingredients, you can cook up lots of fun!

Upcoming classes you might enjoy

Word.

2nd Thursdays, 7-9 pm | Share your words at our monthly open mic emceed by spoken word poet Jorah LaFleur

Learn more! Word.