Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guest Post with M.K. Hobson

Book Nerd Guest Post

M.K. Hobson’s debut novel, The Native Star—the first book in her Veneficas Americana series—was nominated for a Nebula award in 2010. She lives in the first city in the United States incorporated west of the Rockies. Her favorite writers are Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Booth Tarkington, Gore Vidal, and William S. Burroughs. The Warlock’s Curse is her third novel. You can find out more at her website,

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The Greatest Thing I Learned in School
I didn’t start off as a writer. From my early childhood through middle school, I was the family artist. The gifts I received at Christmas usually consisted of drawing paper and pencils, paints and brushes (well, and books, of course. Always books!) But while I was an avid reader, I had no special interest in writing until eighth grade, when I had the good fortune to encounter a wonderful English teacher named Mrs. Wright. She was kind and enthusiastic. She showed me that I could express myself with writing just as I did with drawing--and that both kinds of artistic expression complemented each other. My drawing could help me develop my descriptive ability in fiction, and my fiction could provide me with subjects for my art.

Sadly, though, when I went into high school there was no “Mrs. Wright” waiting for me. Because of her skill as a teacher, I had earned excellent grades and achieved wonderful test scores--and as a result, I was placed a freshman AP English class. And it was awful. Where Mrs. Wright had emphasized fun and creativity, the AP class was a competitive, humorless grind. The bloom was off the literary rose. I dove for cover, signing up for as many art electives as I could.

It wasn’t until later in high school, when I encountered another extraordinary teacher--Mrs. Accuardi, my drama teacher--that I started thinking about writing again. The exercises we did in her class tickled the same part of my brain that writing had. Doing an improvisation exercise is a whole lot like developing a plot--both require quickness, a nimble wit, and a ready stock of “twists.” We did character development exercises that still come in handy. I often find myself reading my characters’ dramatic speeches back to myself, just to see how they “play.”

And the acting lessons weren’t the only valuable thing. While I did perform in a few plays, I was more often a member of the technical crew, doing costumes and sets and stage management. Those jobs, less glamorous but equally creative, gave me an invaluable grounding in discipline and organizational skills.

I entered college as a drama major (once again spurred by the passion a great teacher can engender) but I soon found that the drama majors were a lot like the students I’d encountered in my freshman AP English class--competitive, humorless, and way more determined to “make it” than I was. So I switched to a double major--English and film. I decided on a double major because it was well-known that an English degree was almost comically useless in the real world, and I figured adding on the film major would, through some inconceivably mysterious alchemic process, provide my literary skills with more practical commercial appeal.

(And surprisingly enough … this crazy scheme worked! Not because I actually learned anything in film school that made me even the tinest bit more marketable, but because my university ultimately changed the name of the “Telecommunications and Film” department to just “Communications” and folded the department into the university’s much-acclaimed School of Journalism. All of which looks a whole lot better on my resume--and has landed meway better jobs--than “Telecommunications and Film” ever would have.)

But I digress.

What I learned in college (both in my English classes and my film classes) was how to deconstruct and critically analyze a text. And learning how to take a text apart gave me a whole lot of insight into how to build one. It was the same lesson I’d learned back in Mrs. Wright’s class. All art is cross referential and cross-supporting. No matter what art you practice, it will help you become better at something else.

And I guess that’s the greatest thing I learned in school.

Thank you for having me!

THE YEAR IS 1910. Eighteen-year-old Will Edwards has landed a prestigious apprenticeship at Detroit’s Tesla Industries, the most advanced scientific research center in the United States. It’s a plum prize for a young man who dreams of a career in the new science of Otherwhere Engineering.

But his father doesn’t want him to go. And he won’t tell him why.

Determined to get there by any means necessary, Will finds unexpected support along the way. His old friend Jenny Hansen—daughter of a San Francisco timber baron—is eager to help him for reasons of her own. And so is his estranged brother Ben, who he hasn’t seen in over ten years.

But running away turns out to be the easy part. On the first full moon after his eighteenth birthday, Will is stricken by a powerful magic—a devastating curse laid upon his ancestors by the malevolent sangrimancer Aebedel Cowdray. Will must find a way to control the magic that possesses him—or the vengeful warlock’s spirit will destroy everything and everyone he loves.

You can purchase The Warlock's Curse at the following Retailers:
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  1. It was 8th grade where I had a wonderful English/writing teacher as well and while I always wrote (since 2nd grade when I wrote 45 pages about My Little Pony) it was this teacher that got me more serious about writing for others and putting my work out there. As a matter of fact, she actually got some of my stuff published. I think that once I was in high school the excitement faded a bit until my 10th or 11th year when I had another fantastic teacher for creative writing. It was interesting because she was known as a hard ass and everyone hated her. Everyone but me. She was most definitely the best teacher I ever had and my writing improved greatly. When my brothers and sisters, many years later, had her for a teacher they complained so much about how hard she was and I had to tell them they were wrong, she's the best teacher they could ever have!
    Thanks for a hosting a tour stop Jean!

  2. Thank you for donating those books for the giveaway Ms. Hobson. Happy holidays!