Over the past thirty years, Nina Kiriki Hoffman has sold adult and YA novels and more than 250 short stories.  Her works have been finalists for the World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, and Endeavour awards. Her first novel, The Thread that Binds the Bones, won a Stoker award in 1994, and her short story "Trophy Wives" won a Nebula Award in 2009.

Nina does production work for the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. She teaches a short story writing class through her local community college, and she works with teen writers.  She lives in Eugene, Oregon. Website: http://ofearna.us/books/hoffman.html
Your first pro story, “Petrified,” appeared in Asimov's in 1983. That's more than 30 years of writing. How has your preferred writing environment changed over that time?

My writing environment has changed in the tool department, for sure. I was so jazzed when I got my first IBM Selectric with correcting tape! Wahoo!

In 1985, I told my dad that my plan was to write a novel, sell it, and use the money to buy myself a computer. He said that plan was backward. Get the computer, then write the novel. He was a technophile, an early member of the Geek species. He had just upgraded his computer, so he gave me his old one, an Apple III. For the many who don’t know, this was a brief blip on the Apple product line that disappeared as a dead end system. I wrote a bunch of stuff on it. I still have the five-and-a-quarter-inch floppies from that, though the computer went to NextStep Recycling. I got some of the contents transferred onto three-and-a-half-inch floppies, but not all. Hidden history. There are things on there with titles like "Vampire Leprechauns from Space."

Last week I bought a new iMac computer to replace my seven-year-old iMac, which was glitching up a storm. My, this new screen is pretty.
As for my surroundings, I used to write at home. I usually set up my desk in the living room of whatever apartment I lived in.

For the last twenty-two years I've lived in the same house in Eugene, Oregon, and I use the spare bedroom as an office.

In 2007, I was working on two book deadlines, and in the middle of that, I got my cancer diagnosis. Surgery, radiation, and chemo followed. I managed to wrap up one of the books the night before I started radiation, and I'm not quite sure when I finished the other one.

Somehow, the stress of sickness, treatment, and work combined to make me allergic to writing at home. I can manage it if I have a deadline and all the coffee shops are closed. Now that I have this new computer, I might reclaim my writing at home; I'm hopeful.

But for the last five or six years, I've been writing out. I write at the public library, at several different Starbucks around town, at local coffee shops and food courts. I've written at friends' houses and at Market of Choice, our fancy and fabulous supermarket. I've written in yogurt shops (they stay open late down near campus!). I've written at a picnic table overlooking the river. Mostly I write on my little MacBook Air, but sometimes I write longhand in a journal. I love fountain pens.

I have a list of eighteen writing buddies. When I plan to write somewhere, I send an email to the list and invite people to join me. I treasure the company of other writers writing, even if we don't speak to each other. It makes what we're doing in public seem a little less weird, and it's great to have a friend to watch your stuff when you need a bathroom break.
Some writers are happier and more productive than others, but everyone has days when they just don't feel like facing the page. What do you do when you've lost your writing mojo?

My process involves walks and naps. If I get stuck, a walk can help. Sometimes solutions to stories come to me in naptime dreams, or as soon as I wake up, if I grab the journal and write without censoring myself. I've also found that a long drive with the radio off will stimulate my imagination — gotta have something going on, and if I can't get it outside my head, it will start up inside.

Sometimes, I forget the writing and go out to a grange and play country western/bluegrass music with my Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association friends.

You have a beautiful collection of masks in your office. Any good stories behind them?

My mask collection has expanded over time. Some of them I bought myself; many were gifts. They come from a variety of cultures. I don't know most of their deep stories, but I can make things up about them.

One of the masks is a life mask I did in art therapy when I was a patient at a hospital for people with eating disorders; it has a night side and a day side, and a third eye.

Kim Antieau assembled the paper Medusa mask, then gave it to me because it spooked her too much.

The fiery leather sun mask came from my sister, who worked on movies until she retired, and sometimes bought set decorations after filming ended. I'm not sure what movie it appeared in.

Leslie What gave me a mask she picked up in a thrift store — the woven wicker mask with flaring straw hair, mustache, and beard.


The glow-in-the-dark skull mask with its own black cloak was part of my Halloween costume one year.

There's a half-mask with cat ears fashioned of green-and-gold brocade that my friend Loreen Heneghan made — I plan to wear it at my next costume event, probably FaerieWorlds this summer.

I like a wall of masks in my office to remind me of some of the people I might become while I'm writing.
What's your favorite thing about your current writing space?

Peppermint mocha frappuccinos.

What do you wish you were reading but aren't, because it doesn't exist?

The next Jim Butcher Harry Dresden book, or the next book of Charlaine Harris's Harper Connelly or Lily Bard mysteries, or the next Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson book, or, dang it, the next Celia Jerome Willow Tate book — looks like she stopped writing those, and I wish she'd start again. The next Gini Koch Alien book — no, wait, I have that on my Kindle already!

What should a reader do after reading this?

I have some free fiction online you could check out if you like. "Ghost Hedgehog," on Tor.com, a novelette about a boy who talks to ghosts, and the basis of my next book from Viking. "Key Signatures," about a girl who followed my own path into the music world here in Eugene. A very weird Christmas story called "The Weight of Wishes."