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C.E. Hoffman: 'Writing is the life raft to my inner storm'

A chat with C.E. Hoffman about their short story collection, Losers and Freaks (Querencia Press, 2024)

How would you describe Losers and Freaks in one sentence?

A curation of my weirdness; a haven for the misfits.

How long did the book take to write?

As a short story collection, it took little time to compile, but I bombarded my awesome editor with last-minute additions all the way up to final editing!

How did you structure the collection?

I try to space out the experimental pieces amidst the punky Speculative stuff. Hopefully the result is seamless, not jarring!

How did you choose a publisher?

I’d given up. I was going to shelve this work after a huge disappointment with a prospective publisher. The acceptance letter from Querencia was a goddesssend. So grateful Emily was willing to give my stranded words a good home.

What has been the reaction to the collection? Have there been any individual reactions that have surprised you?

I’m always grateful for feedback- it helps me understand exactly where my weirdness lands in the literary landscape. Most readers’ assessments reflect my intentions: people note the darkness mixed with whimsy, the punk/alt/emo influence, and the odd blend of Urban Fantasy with stream-of-consciousness narratives and/or Hemingwayesque minimalism.

How does the book differ (or is similar to) what you have written before?

Losers and Freaks is an earnest sequel to my inaugural collection, Sluts and Whores, released by Thurston Howl Publications in 2021. You’ll find recurring characters, narrators, and concepts. The poetry in L&F is the same as you’d expect after my two chapbook collections (Blood, Booze, and Other Things in Nature, and Ghost, Trolls, and Other Things on the Internet, published by Alien Buddha Press and Bottlecap Press, respectively); the more surreal pieces are akin to those in my prose chapbook, No Actual Sin, which won the 2022 Defunct Magazine chapbook contest. I’m still finding my voice, but some consistency, too.

You talk about mental health in the Author’s Note, and I wonder if you can talk about the relationship between writing and mental health?

I can’t speak for others, but I’ve been blessed/cursed with both these spasms of the brain and heart since early childhood. Sometimes, they feel linked. Other times, writing is the life raft to my inner storm.

I wonder if you think it’s harder for writers who struggle with mental health nowadays because there is generally little marketing support available, which often involves an interaction with social media which many writers can feel uncomfortable with? Or do you think it’s easier because there’s more understanding and discussion around mental health issues and neurodivergency?

Harder. Definitely. We’re expected to write, edit, promote, and sometimes even publish our own works. It’s bootstrap philosophy gone mad. The only kind word I have to say about the ubiquitousness of social media: it’s connected me with authors I would have never otherwise had the chance to meet. (Thanks to Twitter, I’ve connected with Neil S Reddy, Waubgeshig Rice, Joseph Fasano, and Jack Wang, to name a few!)

Who or what inspires your writing?

Writing is breathing- but painful.

Which author (dead or alive) is your fantasy book-blurber?

In equal measure: Michelle Tea and Irvine Welsh.

Irvine Welsh
Irvine Welsh

Do you have a favourite story in the collection and if so, why?

I can’t choose favourites! (Honestly, can’t.) I hope people will find pleasant (if not unsettling) surprises in 'Schrodinger’s Cats' and 'Chasing Bill'. I probably have a soft spot for 'Vibrationis Vibrissae', which won a Silver Honourable Mention in the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award. It has such a sweet, weird, wonderfully happy ending- a rare treat in my writing.

I believe there’s something for everyone in Losers and Freaks- at least, any of those who have ever felt alone. Give it a chance. Stick around. <3

Pre-order Losers and Freaks here:

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