Next fall will see the release of Knee Deep, the latest novel from Karol Hoeffner, assistant professor and chair of SFTV’s screenwriting department. The book follows the previous releases of her two YA novels All You’ve Got (2005) and Surf Ed (2007), and will be released by Regal House Publishing under their Fitzroy Books imprint.
Knee Deep tells the story of 16-year-old Camille Darveau and her journey through an apocalyptic post-Katrina New Orleans. Named after a 1969 hurricane, Camille is the rebellious daughter of a New Orleans bar owner who grew up in the shadow of Bourbon Street. Though her family loses their home in the disaster, she counts herself among the lucky until she discovers that Antwone, the 18-year-old Creole neighbor she secretly loved, died a hero’s death during the storm.
Aided by the strength of her love and the handiwork of a dead voodoo queen, Camille wills Antwone back to earth, taking a sort of ownership of Antwone in death that she never had in life. In the end, she must learn to let go of personal grief as her community rises up out of the chaos wrought by the disaster. Narrated by Camille in memoir-like style, Knee Deep is a coming-of-age novel that grounds supernatural events in the real emotions of losing a first love to an untimely death.
The book was inspired by Hoeffner’s first trip to New Orleans at age 16, which kicked off her lifelong love affair with Crescent City. “I walked down the same streets that Camille walked, breathing in the Quarter and its culture,” she says. “I ate the same Cajun dishes that Camille savored. So when I started the novel, it was easy for me to see that world through her eyes.”
In addition to her novels, Hoeffner has fourteen film credits and many TV writing credits to her name. She’s begun sharing stories about writing on her publisher’s blog. “Camille came to me very quickly,” she says of her latest book. “I didn’t initially intend to write the novel in the first person, but her voice was so strong that she just took over—which is why I decided to craft it as a memoir. I take pride in the life I’ve carved out as a working writer, but this manuscript rises above what I’ve done before. It’s a child of my heart.”
Knee Deep will be available for pre-order in the summer of 2020.
Top photo: SFTV assistant professor and chair of screenwriting Karol Hoeffner