We are delighted to be interviewing science-fiction author C. Hofsetz. Let’s find more about him and his book “Challenges of the Gods”.
1) What is your book about?
Challenges of the Gods is a contemporary Earth, Science Fiction and Fantasy story with a heart.
Mike thinks he died and went to Heaven after he finds out about his fiancée’s betrayal. Immediately after that, the gods send him on a mission to destroy an alternate Earth so he can save Earth.
Kirkus Reviews summarizes it as a comedic sci-fi novel that focuses on one man’s undercover quest to destroy Earth.
While the premise is about saving—or is it destroying?—the world, the underlying theme is trust, and the characters’ relationships are at the center. The book explores how far people are willing to go before they defy their core values, and how those decisions affect their loved ones.
2) Which was your favourite character to write in your book?
I loved writing Jane’s character. She’s a scientist, a fighter, a leader, and a true believer. She trusts the people around her and the messengers of the gods, in stark contrast to the main character who begins the story trusting no one. How Jane and Mike work out their differences while being secretly enemies is the main conflict in the story.
3) What will a reader gain by reading your book?
I started reading books because they’re fun, and I wrote a story that I always wanted to read. I love thrillers with unbelievable twists where everything makes sense in the end. I also like upbeat characters and humor.
On a more serious note, there is a message that neither completely blind faith nor cynical skepticism will make you happy, and the truth is in the middle. But in the end, I don’t want to lecture my readers. I just want to entertain them.
4) Tell us a few things about yourself.
Few people know this, but I used to be an altar boy in a small parish in Brazil. Of course, we’re taught to be humble, but as kids we couldn’t help but to be competitive. The top of the career ladder for an altar boy is to assist the Christmas Eve mass. There were many of us and only a few spots once a year.
I don’t want to brag, but I’m happy to tell you that I proudly made it to the top. Of course, this is not exactly like The Wolf of Wall Street story, but you get the idea.
5) How long have you been a writer? And how often do you write now?
I started writing in 2015 after I finished reading a novel and thinking that I could write way better than that. Oh boy, how wrong I was. It took years of writing and editing to finally have a novel that I really like.
Most writers have a day job, and I’m not an exception. The weekends are the work days of the writers. So I mostly write Saturdays and Sundays, but sometimes will write at night during the week when the inspiration is there.
6) Do you need to be in a specific environment to write?
I prefer to write at home, but I can write in cafes or even in hotels when I’m on vacation. Last year I went to Vegas with my friends, and they spent the day watching a Nascar race while I stayed at the hotel, writing. It was one of the hottest days in Las Vegas. Later that night, they complained that I didn’t go, but when I asked them who won the race all they could say was that the red car won. Or maybe the blue one. They were not sure.
7) What inspires you to write?
Seriously? Humor. Everything from Monty Python, to Robin Williams, movies like Airplane, standup comedians. And not just comedy in the context of comedy, but humor in any story. For instance, one of my favorite authors is Bill Bryson. In “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” he makes me laugh explaining how cells are needy—“Cells need a lot of reassurance.”
8) How challenging is it for you to write in English when it is not your first language?
Very challenging. Sometimes I want to write a simple sentence for a normal gesture—say, for instance, ways of fixing your hair, or maybe wiping dust off your clothes. So, obviously, I ask my kids who are native speakers. I do the gesture and ask them to put it into words.
Guess what—they have no idea how to describe it as well.
Besides that, I have a lot of problems with prepositions “in” vs “on,” but I’m in top of it now. Or words that are similar but not exactly the same. One of my editors complained that there was a lot of screaming in one of my drafts. It turns out that in Portuguese we have the same word for shouting and screaming. I promise I did not grow up in an abusive household.
The first fiction novel I read in English was “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” and I was already 26 years old. At that time, I stopped reading books translated to Portuguese. I read a lot of novels after that, but the Harry Potter series has a special place in my heart.
9) What kind of research do you do for your books?
A lot of my research is figuring out how the heck to say normal things. Objects, body parts, gestures. Also, sentences that would be completely normal in Portuguese sound weird in English if translated literally. “I don’t go with her face” is hilarious and incorrect. It should be “she rubs me the wrong way.”
I also like playing with English expressions. I often tell my kids “I hope you’re happy.” They say “Why? What did we do?” “Nothing. I just love you.”
I’m good with planning and organizing, researching names and places, character sheets, etc. But ask me to describe a character walking from the living room to the kitchen and I almost prefer to go to the dentist instead.
10) What are your writing plans for the future?
Challenges of the Gods was planned as a trilogy. I’m editing the sequel (tentatively called Enemy of the Gods for the moment), and I should have the final book ready by the end of the next year or so.
After that, the sky is the limit. Beta readers really like a teenage girl that is in the sequel of Challenges of the Gods, so I might write Young Adult fiction at some point.
Finally, apparently it’s very hard to win a Nobel prize in literature writing in present tense, so I’ll write a novel in past tense and throw my hat in the ring.
11) Do you have a favourite quote or excerpt from your book that you would like to share with us?
My favorite quote is short and to the point:
“My eyes try to grin at her, but the smile doesn’t reach my mouth.”
And here’s a small excerpt:
“People shift uncomfortably and the rustle of murmuring skitters around the room. They are…shocked? No matter what the “messengers” show us, it’s only fabricated. I mean, what are they going to do, destroy Earth in front of us?
Then I watch as they destroy Earth in front of us.”