Just been trying with my right hand, it seems to be going OK. I know what you mean about the death grip though! I'm having to really keep an eye on my tension at the moment as it keeps getting really tight as I concentrate on what the hook is doing.
What kind of thing do you recommend for a complete novice? I've got my eye on a ball shaped creature but I was wondering if I should start with simple flat shapes like I did when I learnt to knit.