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‘Not only vital but revitalized’: Roy Hoffman to share inspiration to writers in Brown Bag

As a writer who’s often in search of inspiration, Roy Hoffman believes students should be looking all around themselves to find their wellspring of creativity. 

“All of us can turn to the world outside and the world inside to look for catalysts, starting points, and inspiration for our own creative endeavors,” said Hoffman, a writer, educator, journalist and the Week Three prose writer-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. “We need to feel not only vital but revitalized through inspiration.”

At 12:15 p.m. Friday, July 15, on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall, Hoffman will give a Chautauqua Literary Arts Brown Bag lecture titled “Inspiration: Where Stories Come From.” Hoffman will discuss the sources of inspiration for many of his own projects and will encourage the audience to find their own.

Among the authors Hoffman said he’ll examine during his lecture are Tennessee Williams, Maya Angelou, Gabriel García Márquez and Toni Morrison.

“We’ll be looking at what some of the seeds of their great novels have been,” he said, “and to offer reflection on the part of authors who are well-known, and some who are perhaps not as well-known, on what inspires them.”

In his fiction writing, including his new novel The Promise of the Pelican, Hoffman said he’s become increasingly interested in writing immigrant characters.

Hoffman said he’s written about immigrants from South America, Asia and Eastern Europe, and in some instances included characters who relocated to his home state of Alabama.

“My dad, Charles Foster, practiced law until he was 97 years old in Alabama,” he said. “So I was also interested in working with a character who was old. My protagonist for The Promise of the Pelican is 82 years old when we first see him, and he’s a retired criminal defense attorney. He’s entreated to come out of retirement to defend a young Honduran accused of a violent crime.”

The name of the game when it comes to fiction writing is character, Hoffman said.

“The one thing that is paramount for me in storytelling is character,” he said. “Especially the way characters impact each other, play off of each other.”

Hoffman, who last visited Chautauqua in 2019, said he’s “more than excited” to return.

“I learn so much from my students, at whatever level they are at,” he said. “(Chautauqua) is a beautiful landscape rich with the arts,” he said. “What could be more wonderful, more inspiring?”

Tags : literary artsLiterary Arts Center at Alumni Hallprose writer-in-residence
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The author Chris Clements

Chris Clements is reporting on literary arts during his third summer with The Chautauquan Daily. He has previously written previews for the Interfaith Lecture Series and Sacred Song Services and covered literary arts digitally in 2020. Chris is a second-year grad student at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in creative writing, specializing in fiction. He’s passionate about all things related to literature, music and film, especially author David Foster Wallace, jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.