Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing Carla Hoch, who turned her martial arts skills and her writing skills into a blog and a book that are amazing resources for other writers! Plus, she’s just an all-around interesting person–enjoy!
Welcome, Carla! Please tell us about your book, Fight Write.
In Fight Write writers will learn practical tips, terminology, and the science behind crafting realistic scenes of fighting, action and violence. From before the altercation to after the decomposition, Fight Write has you covered,
What an incredible idea for a book! What inspired you to write it?
I needed to write fight scenes and there was nothing out there to help me. There were books about violence, some about weaponry, but none about craft and fight technique and injuries and all the other things I didn’t know I needed to know until I needed to know it.
So true! Novelists frequently ask each other how exactly they can hurt their characters in certain ways—a little disturbing, but it’s who we are. What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
I lived out a lot of the research for the book. I began fight training long before I began Fight Write. To date I’ve dabbled in close to a dozen fighting styles. So, I know what it felt like to punch and be punched. I knew how to use a knife and defend against it. And, because I was in the fight world so much, I understood the injuries.
As a trained teacher and writer, adding my fight knowledge to my “write” knowledge just came naturally. And, I knew what authors needed to know. What I couldn’t address from personal history I researched and loved every minute. Honestly, much of the research for the book had been done for my blog. I was able to use posts I had written and expand upon them based on writer questions or simply because there was more I wanted to cover but didn’t in the interest of blog post length.
God created me a writer and made me into a fighter. I began martial arts at 38, fairly long in the tooth to begin doing some of the things I was doing. During my first class, I had a small panic attack that turned into an extended total meltdown afterward in my “mom van.” I was raised in an unsafe home. And, I had no idea it was a trauma that I still carried with me. In that first class, I learned that though an adult, I was still very much a scared child. To say the least, it was a surprising realization.
After crying all the way home that first day, I said I’d never go back. So, I went back. That’s kind of how I am. And, again, I cried and swore it off. Then went back and cried again. Ultimately, I kept going back until I quit crying about it.
Martial arts, especially Brazilian jiu-jitsu has made me feel safe in my own skin. It made me face down my insecurities and reckon with my ego. And, even though the training was the vehicle for a certain amount of healing, it was God driving the thing.
So, my blog and book, it’s a constant testimony of what God can do. Here I am, knocking on the door of fifty, still training and competing. I’m the oldest and smallest on the mat, which is a real pain in the backside, let me tell ya. There are moments when my brain goes back to my childhood, but my body doesn’t follow it.
God does as He pleases. Sometimes He heals on the spot. Sometimes He makes you walk out the healing. However He does it is a prescription compounded personally for you. Trust it.
That’s beautiful! I love how He chooses such personal and unique ways to teach and heal each of us.
Speaking of personal and unique…what would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
I would thrive in a Hobbit hole. I’d have the fire going, bread baking. Man…I can hardly write for thinking about it!
My actual writing place is a guest bedroom/office. I have things on the walls and around me that keep me motivated. On the wall behind my computer, I have a note that reads “keep going” and a wood block that reads, “Trust the next chapter because you know the Writer.” On another wall I have a huge 4’x5’ photo of the Twin Towers. I love New York and my best friend is from Queens. She was on the Brooklynn bridge when the towers fell. It’s actually her photo.
On another wall I have several pieces of rough draft from one of Kathy Tyers Gillin’s Star Wars books, Truce at Bakura. I am blessed to know Kathy. She was dealing with some tough personal issues when she was writing her Fire Bird series and the Star Wars books. When I see those type written pages, filled with pencil scribbles, I’m inspired in so many ways.
I have books and jiu jitsu medals here and there as well as a few comical items and things my kids have made me. And, last but not least on the bed, I have an old laptop that stays open and some magazines and books laid out. They are for my cat Dottie. She has to have her own work space or she will sit on my lap. I am being dead serious. Apparently, cats like to “mirror” us. If you have a cat that won’t leave you alone as you write, put an old computer out and let them sit on it.
Why have I never thought of that?!? Cats are the best.
Other than playing mind games with your cat, why do you love writing?
I come from a family of writers that goes back to William Shakespeare, sort of. I’m a descendant of his mother’s sister, Margaret. My late father was a writer and my late maternal aunt was a poet. I grew up typing manuscripts and was going to adult poetry conclaves as early as elementary school.
Writing…oh me. Like most writers, I think, I love/hate it. I love it when I’m in a flow and unencumbered by responsibilities. In other words, when it’s easy. But, most of the time, it’s not easy. I am not a fast writer. My gift is viscous!
But, when I am writing, I am on my “home planet.” I feel very much myself. Time kind of ceases to exist. Who doesn’t love that?
It’s the best! What ministries are you involved in, and why?
I help with the Open Gates ministry at my church. It’s a program that allows special needs kids to worship and be in class with all the other kids. I’m a “shadow,” one-on-one with a child the entire time they are in kid’s worship. Whatever they need, I am there and the Open Gates ministry has items and a plan especially for that child.
I have children with special needs and worship can be very stressful. You sit there the whole time wondering if your kid is ok or watching the screen to see if your kid’s number pops up and you need to go help them. Or, worst of all, you can’t worship in-person because your child can’t handle the sensory experience of worship and there is no special needs ministry to help. Being able to take that stress off of parents means a lot to me. Also, all children need to be around all children. People with special needs aren’t created to be hidden. And really, don’t we all have a special need in one way or another?
I love that so much! What an awesome ministry—not just to those children but to the whole church.
When you’re not fighting or writing, what do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?
I love nonfiction and have lately found myself hip deep in mystery/thrillers. But I love just about any kind of fiction. And, I generally have a devotional book going. Actually, now that I think about it, I generally have a non-fiction, fiction and devotional book all going at the same time! Hmm.
I just finished How to Kill 11 Million People (mega short read), The Night She Disappeared and Gay Girl, Good God. I’m now reading Limitless, American Dirt and through the Bible through chronologically.
What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
Well, as I said, I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu. A lot. Five times a week or so. And, I’m dabbling in hand-lettering. That’s where you draw letters in a fancy calligraphy sort of way. It keeps my focus and I completely lose track of time. It’s very relaxing.