Member Spotlight: Tarl “Voice” Hoch

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

My most recent project is what I have come to call ASfHA. (Which stands for: Anthropomorphic Science Fiction Horror Anthology, which is quite a mouthful as you can see.) It’s largely inspired by a number of science fiction horror films I watched while growing up. Chief among these being Alien, Aliens, and Event Horizon. There is something to be said for the terrors that the future will bring to humans as we take each step forwards, and that intrigues me.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

VoiceSpiderI’m a total pantser. Maybe it had to do with all the essays I had to write in University, but my stories only seem to flow when I am keyboard composing. I’ve tried doing the whole outline thing, and when it worked it worked beautifully, but ultimately I work better on the fly. The characters take on a life of their own and the story they tell is theirs. I’m just there to put it into words.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

The members of my local writer group would say ‘Female Betrayal’.

Really though, I enjoy writing stories with complex characters and the interactions between them. Take my Raven and Holly stories (featured in Taboo and Will of the Alpha 2 & 3, all published by FurPlanet). I’m not a huge fan of setting stories in our current timeline, yet here are a couple I can’t seem to get enough writing about. Sure, the stories are erotic, but the more you look into Raven and Holly’s lives, the more you realize just how complex it is and how much juggling it takes to maintain their polyamorous relationship. It’s something I enjoy exploring and more importantly, want to keep exploring.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

Kaden Stockheimer from Wild Night in Trick or Treat, published by Rabbit Valley.

I spent my twenties as a goth and even now still dip into the culture every so often since hanging up my lucky PVC pants. Kaden represents a lot of my own attitudes from that time in my life, and his experiences with his friends and his girlfriend share a lot of echoes with my own life. He’s not a self inserted character by a long shot, but is the closest I have ever come to putting a part of me into a character.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?abandonedplaces cover

Lovecraft is easily my primary influence. Yes, he was a terribly xenophobe and racist, but he wrote weird fiction that changed the face of horror and influenced many of today’s contemporary horror masters. The scope of his horrors, the inclusion of multi-generational sin, and the idea that mankind is insignificant and unimportance in the scope of the universe are themes that still resonate today and are interesting to explore while writing.

C.L.Werner is another one. Despite writing primarily in the preexisting Warhammer setting, Werner manages to bring his own flavour and personal preferences to his writing. His fantasy stories always seem to have a touch of Lovecraft to them without smacking of it, and that’s always a win for me.

Lastly, Andrzej Sapkowski has recently become a large influence to me. His fantasy novels are easily the most realistic ones I have read when it comes to his characters and their interactions. Much like real life, his characters wear different masks for different situations or people, and often the dueling dialogues between them are as engaging as his fight scenes.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror, edited by Tim Lieder and published by Dybbuk Press. The concept captured my attention due to my degree in religious studies and my love of horror anthologies. The stories within were amazing and extremely creative. Not only did the writers who submitted capture various themes found within the Bible, but did it in such ways as to make your skin crawl and breath quicken over a variety of timelines.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

tarl oceanI work with Ocean, Roland and Yannarra on the writing podcast Fangs and Fonts, which has been going for over two years now. I also read a lot, go for hikes, tend to my two feline overlords and fursuit for charities when time permits.

8. Advice for other writers?

When your inner voice says you can’t write, ignore it.

Keep writing, never stop, and continue to practice your craft. You will always continue to improve as long as you write. No matter how bad a rejection may sting or linger in your mind, always remember that you can either run from it, or learn from it. And trust me, learning from it is always the better option. Less repetition of painful lessons that way.

9. Where can readers find your work?

Primarily my works can be found through FurPlanet while my non-furry works can be found on Amazon. For a full list of what I have done, readers can check out my Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759304.Tarl_Voice_Hoch

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

It’s where I met my wife.

Also, the sheer creative force in the fandom is amazing to watch. We have people from every walk of the creative arts who are constantly creating, be it stories, artwork, dance routines, music, you name it, furries create it. We’ve come a long way from when I first got into the fandom, and that was only 20 years ago. I am excited to see where this all goes, what works we create and how we will continue to change mainstream culture. It’s an exciting time for the fandom and I love it.

 

Check out Tarl “Voice” Hoch’s member bio here!

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Guest post: “Professionalism Among Furry Writers” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch

Professionalism Among Furry Writers

by Tarl “Voice” Hoch

 

I was reading a review for Children of Steel and overall the review was well done, but at the end the reviewer had the following to say:

On a final note, and I debated on whether or not to bring this up in my review but decided that it was warranted, the book does need some editing for grammatical issues (apostrophes, commas, etc.). While it wasn’t enough to really detract from the story, it did recur enough that I felt it should be mentioned. (source)

What bothers me about this review, is that the reviewer states that they considered not bringing up that the book had editing issues. In something like the Furry Fandom, in published books (electronic or print) editing should be taken seriously. We as writers and editors in this fandom are responsible to try and present the best material possible, especially when people are paying upwards of $20 for a print copy ($10-$15 for ebooks).

Bad editing should not be expected. Nor should bad grammar and punctuation. Nor should they be glossed over. Yes, there will always be those mistakes that are missed by the author, editors, and publisher. However, an effort should be made to produce the best material possible. If there is a problem with the editing, that should be stated in the review, not debated over. We are no less accountable for our works than furry visual artists are to theirs.

I once did a few My Little Pony pieces of art back when that fandom was young. I was very proud of them, despite the fact that I knew the lines were not as clean as they should have been. Still, I posted them and waited for the responses. What I got were a lot of comments about my line work and how I should have vectored them like the show itself did. So what did I do? I looked up vectoring and applied it the next time I did artwork. Clean lines are equivalent to proper grammar/punctuation/spelling.

There is a large debate over furry fiction becoming mainstream. As the fandom continues to garner more and more public interest, we as writers within the fandom should strive to be as professional as possible. If we want our works to stand out and to be presented as OUR works (not our fursona’s), then we should treat our field as professionally as possible.

Just because we are ‘Furry Writers’ does not mean that we should hold ourselves any less accountable to the quality of our work.

 

This post first appeared on Tarl “Voice” Hoch’s blog on Goodreads.

Guest post: “Why I Review” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch

Why I Review

by Tarl “Voice” Hoch

 

For those that follow either my Smashwords or Goodreads accounts (or my Facebook and Twitter for that matter) will know that for the last year or so I have been reviewing any and all books that I read. No matter what they are, be they religious texts to fiction novels, I head over to the sites when I am done and rate them, plus give them each a review.

Someone once asked me why. Why do I review, and why is it so damned important to me that I do?

The fact is, it helps the community, it helps the writer, and it helps the purchaser.

In all of my time doing this, I’ve tried to stick to the constructive criticism model I learned in University. Say something nice, then something that needed improvement, and then something nice. Though I didn’t see very many students following this model in my art classes, I saw just how effective it was when someone actually followed that guideline. I’m also happy to say, except for two or three books, I have been able to stick to that formula.

You see, reviewing helps writers. It helps them to know what they could improve upon in their story. If only one person says something, then it’s kind of pointless. But if you have ten, or twenty, or fifty people saying that your pacing is choppy, then you know what you need to work on. It also gives you to know what worked in your story as well. If everyone raves about how hot your sex scenes are, then you know you don’t need to work on them, and can concentrate on the stuff that DOES need work.

But as mentioned, reviewing also helps purchasers. I have taken novels and short stories off my wish list because of poor reviews. Let me make this clear before I continue, they have to be GOOD reviews. Well thought out, well spoken, before I will listen to them. None of this “IT WAS AWESOME!” crap. Anyway, if someone has commented on a novel being terrible due to the ending, or the pacing, or grammar, or whatever, then I am more likely not to get it. Not only does it save me money, but it also saves me frustration at the author when I read it (and hopefully lets the author know what they need to work on).

And last, reviewing helps the community. Be it writer, or be it furry, reviewing works constructively lets authors know you’re reading their material, it gets knowledge of a book or anthology out there, and it lets the culture grow and evolve in a positive manner. Without reviewing, everything would just sort of stagnate. No one would get feedback, besides sales authors wouldn’t know if people were reading or enjoying their material, and no one would be able to improve upon their work.

In the end, I review because as a writer, it helps not only my community, but it helps other writers to improve their craft. I try to give as detailed reviews as possible and try to be fair and honest with each one I give. I’m not perfect, and there have been reviews where words fail me and I have to put something down. But for the most part, I try to explain the best I can what I liked and didn’t like about each and everything I read.

So that is why I review everything I read.

I suggest you do the same. It helps a lot of people out when you do, especially if you take the time to make it detailed and you give it in the constructive criticism format. Not all books are perfect, because no writer or editor is perfect. But that said, no book is ever complete crap either, and there is always something positive to say about a story (though I’ve come across a couple where I honestly couldn’t think of anything good to say, and those two stories still bother me because of that).

In the end, the brief time it takes to actually type out a short review is so minor compared to the benefit to those it touches, that there really isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t be reviewing the stuff you read.

 

This post first appeared on Tarl “Voice” Hoch’s blog on Goodreads.