What makes you happiest?
I am happy when the people (and dogs) that I love are happy. And I am always happy when I’m writing or playing my clarinet. I’ve been studying music since I was nine, and I love to play. I also love to take care of the people I love. I like to cook for them or bring them a special little pick-me-up or tell a joke that makes them smile.
What’s your greatest character strength?
I’m an optimist. I’m always ready to pick up the pieces and go on. And I look for the lessons in everything and try to use what I have learned to improve my next performance whether it’s writing or music or my “day job.”
Why do you write?
Because I’m a born storyteller. I grew up in the South, and all Southerners love to hear stories and to tell them. When I meet new people, even if I’m just in a line at the grocery store or post office, I get them to tell me a story. I think listening to stories is as important as telling them. People love to have an audience even here in California where the natives tend to be rather reserved, unlike Southerners who will tell you their life story in a heart beat.
What writing are you most proud of?
My first published novel, Dance For A Dead Princess. It was not easy to weave together a modern mystery-love story with a historical mystery-love story and have both be relevant to each other. I was excited when I read Diane Donovan’s review at the Midwest Book Review because she really understood what I was trying to do and made me feel great about my work!
(Link to book review)
(Link to book)
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dance-for-a-dead-princess-deborah-hawkins/1114978129?ean=2940016545196
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
Creating a family. I’m sort of an orphan, and I always wanted a family. So I had to create one. I’m also very proud of working to change my career at this point in life. It is not easy to practice law all day and write and promote fiction at night. But I accept the challenge and keep working at it. I want to be a fiction writer more than a lawyer, and I’m going to work to make that happen.
What books did you love growing up?
I loved Louisa May Alcott when I was in elementary school. I read all of her books over and over, but An Old Fashioned Girl was my favorite. I’ve read it too many times to count. Then, when I got a little older I discovered Mary Stewart. Not only does she tell a marvelous story, her prose is beautiful. I read her books countless times, too; but I particularly love Nine Coaches Waiting. And of course, I love Jayne Eyre and everything Jane Austin wrote. I read a lot of poetry in graduate school. My major figure was W.B. Yeats, and I also read T.S. Eliot to distraction and Emily Dickinson. I lived in Dublin for six months back in the 1970's while I was studying Yeats. I learned a lot.
Who is your favorite author?
In addition to the ones named in the last question, I like Jody Picoult, Karen White, Anita Shreve, Rosamond Pilcher, Scott Turow, John Grisham, and Tom Clancy. (Kind of an eclectic mix.)
What book genre do you adore?
Real romantic suspense - the ones that Mary Stewart wrote, where you have a complete mystery and a complete love story in the same book. I think a love story should be about the development of the characters as they discover each other. I’m not a fan of books where it’s just all sex. That’s too shallow for my taste. I want to get to know the people in the story, what they feel, and why they wind up together.
Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
My children have been extremely supportive. My daughter was my earliest reader though all the versions of the book. My youngest computer genius child created my website and advised me about online marketing. My second son has encouraged me to keep writing. And my friends are just the best. They support my internet marketing efforts and make me feel great when I see their “likes” on Facebook. I count myself blessed to have such wonderful family and friends.
What else to you do to make money?
In my “day job” I am an appellate attorney. I work at home in my living room writing briefs for the court of appeal. When you lose in the trial court, you come see me. I do a lot of court-appointed work which means I do a lot of criminal appeals. It’s ironic because criminal law was not my favorite subject in law school. I never meet these clients. I just read what happened at their trials and write about it.
I only own one suit and I actually only have to go to court about once every three years to do oral argument. Since telling people I am a lawyer sounds really intimidating (and I am anything but intimidating), sometimes I just say I’m a legal writer. That best describes my job, anyway.
I wanted to be a university professor and teach writing, but there were no jobs when I got out of graduate school. So I went to law school. Law is a great education for a woman on her own. You can really take care of yourself if you have a law degree. And now it gives me great story ideas. So it has all worked out well.
What has been your toughest criticism as an author?
The only reviewer who posted a three-star review on Amazon complained about the twists and turns in the plot. But that’s the point of a mystery novel, to keep the reader guessing. Everyone else has loved the plot because you don’t know what’s coming next.
What has been your best compliment?
There have been a number, so it’s hard to pick just one. I liked the reviewer who said Nicholas was her favorite part of the book and called him “complex, romantic, and brooding.” I wanted him to be a lot deeper than the average hero of a romance novel. Another great line from a reviewer was “Enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.” As a writer, you always want to keep the reader turning pages. And I was happy with Kirkus Reviews’ description of my book: “British history and contemporary conspiracy collide in this satisfying novel.” That comment made me feel that I had accomplished my goal of weaving the two stories together in a way that a reader would understand. The best compliment of all came from the Diane Donovan of the Midwest Book Review who said, “Fans of good solid fiction writing will find Dance for a Dead Princess is clearly more than a cut above genre writing, and will relish the definitive conclusion which leaves nothing hanging and much to enjoy.”
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Genre – Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Rating – G
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