11 August 2011

Getting to know you Thursdays with Mary Hawkins with giveaway

Today I am happy to welcome Mary Hawkins to my blog. Mary is a fellow Australian. I first read some of Mary's book when she was writing for Heartsong Presents and loved the stories. I am so happy to be able to interview Mary.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My Dad was a farmer on the Darling Downs in Queensland but I was not sorry to swap milking cows to become a registered general and midwifery nurse. Later on when a Bible College student I met my own hero, Ray. We were married after I had graduated and we are still being richly blessed each day as we seek to be and do what God wants of us. Over the last forty-six years we have enjoyed being in ministry at churches in New South Wales, Queensland and then England for two years. We have been on three short term mission teams to Kenya, Zambia and Ghana. Eight years ago we settled in Tasmania and, besides us both having writing careers now, are involved for the third time in a new church being planted. We have three adult children, two delightful daughters-in-law and now are also proud grandparents.

2. When you were a child did you have a favourite book or books?

Goodness, so many to choose from! There was that illustrated but abridged Alice in Wonderland book, Elizabeth’s Green Way, Billabong books and many more. However, Dad’s first farm when I was a young child was a long way from more than one small all purpose shop, so when Dad passed on to us his own love of reading we were allowed to subscribe to receive monthly reading material in the mail. These included Walt Disney comics and then the Girls Crystal magazine – and I still have some of those last ones hoarded away. (Jenny here, mum bought Norah of the Billabong when I was in High School for a birthday present. She read them when she was a child and loved them and started me on them. I enjoyed them too)

3. Do you have a favourite Genre to both read and write?

Right from those Girls Crystal days I always enjoyed stories the most that had friendships between boys and girls. Then in my mid-teens I discovered English Womens Weekly magazines and to my delight some of the authors of the lovely romance stories in them had whole romance novels in the library. And so my love of romance novels began and any book with romantic elements is still my first choose. Having said that, I am afraid I have to add there are many books in the romance genre these days with explicit sex scenes I simply cannot like. Besides “sweet romance” books, I am delighted there are now so many inspirational romance novels, including by Australian authors nowadays, to enjoy reading instead – and that readers want authors like myself to write them of course.

4. Did you have favourite authors growing up who have influenced you?

The main one is Mary Grant Bruce, the Australian author of the Billabong books and many others I am still finding. I occasionally pick up one of her old books from my collection again, but now read them with “writer eyes.” Why do I still enjoy them so much? How did she craft her characters so they became so real that my sister and I still know who we are talking about when we mention Jim and Norah Linton and Wally? What is it about her stories that so gripped me?

5. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Wanted? I kept diaries, wrote long letters etc but quite frankly it never entered my mind until a couple of years after we were married my dear Ray told me I had a talent for writing. That sent me on a soul search and God challenged me to do something about that talent He had given me. I honestly can’t remember ever “wanting” to be an author until then.

6. How did you go about becoming an author?

I didn’t know where to begin so did a correspondence writer’s course with the USA based Famous Writers School. Ray and I were then self-supporting while planting a church, one baby was born during those years and so the cost of the course was a big commitment. Besides believing it was what God wanted me to do, one reason I persevered for so many years when those inevitable rejections came for my first novel manuscript was to try and pay back that money. However, the course also made me realise I needed to keep learning and, as I wanted to write romance, joined Romance Writers of Australia when it first commenced. Belonging to writers’ groups like that and now Omega Writers in Australia and American Christian Fiction Writers also has been invaluable. And yes, I am still learning with every book I write!

7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?

A tough question. Have never thought about it except I did enjoy my nursing years.

8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?

I do enjoy speaking to women’s groups and especially where I can share about Christ and His love for us. These days I do also enjoy trying to help other Christian fiction writers, but sometimes I am inclined to allow myself to say that “yes” word too often for the good of my own writing!

9. Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?

My beautiful home city of Toowoomba, the Garden City of the Darling Downs, but also England and Scotland.

10. If you could have a meal with 3 living people who would you choose and why?

Only three? No, no, too hard to choose! I love sharing fellowship with other published authors too much to limit it to three.

Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will
be coming out soon. Also where we can find you on the web.

After books published by Harlequin, Heartsong Presents and Barbour, my 19th title, Justice at Baragula, is the third book in this last series and was released last May. These are my first single title, longer inspirational romance novels and have been great fun to write. Return to Baragula was a fiction finalist in the 2010 CALEB book awards. The publisher, Ark House Press in Sydney, is now releasing new titles as print and e-books and so this third book is also available on Word and Koorong bookshop websites as digital downloads for e-readers. I have also been informed later this year they are hoping to have them available at Amazon for the Kindle.

My husband has also had two of his themed devotional meditations released last May and available at Christian bookshops.
Do check out the information about all our books and keep up to date with what is happening on my website, blog and Facebook. There are book trailers for the three Baragula books on YouTube. I am also a regular contributor to the International Christian Fiction Writers blog  http://www.internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com


Mary is giving away one of her Baragula books. The winner can choose which book they would like. This will be an open giveaway and you have til next Friday 19 August 2011 at 6pm Australian time. To enter just leave a way to contact you and answer this question.
Did you have a favourite book or story you use to read as a child?


Jo said...

Great interview. I always love reading about new to me authors and their books. Please enter me in the giveaway.


Jo Wanmer said...

I have fond memories of Mum reading us 'Dot and the Kangaroo' However I remember the pleasure of the family gathering together to listen, more than the story! I also devoured Mary Grant Bruce's books.
Mary H, you're just awesome. I still havent' read that last book so can I enter the giveaway.
Love Jo

Anne Payne said...

Wonderful interview! I went and surfed around Mary's blog...beautiful layout. While there, I read about her books and they sound quite intriguing! Please enter me.

I grew up devouring The Dana Girls mystery books and Jane Eyre :)


Jeffrey and Tiffany said...

My favorite book as a child was "Wacky Wednesday". :)


misskallie2000 said...

My fav as a child was Cinderella and then Nancy Drew.
Thanks for the great interview.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Mary Hawkins said...

Thank you for all your comments. I too enjoy reading about other authors, too Jo - when I have the time of course.
Jo W, I do remember the Dot and the Kangaroo book but mainly with our own children. My daughter still doesn't understand why I love those Billabong books though!

Mary Hawkins said...

Great to hear from you, Anna, and thank you for the comments about the website. Paula Roe, a published friend and member of Romance Writers Australia does it for me, but I am "bad" at sending her updates and it's beyond my expertise so now use my blog page from the website to try and do that.

by Pegg Thomas said...

I had so many favorite stories! The one that comes first to mind is "Big Red". I'm still a sap for a good dog story to this day. :)
twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

Ausjenny said...

Thanks to all who are commenting.
One of my early favourite books was a book with 3 fairy tales. I fell in love with the story of The Snow Queen. I still have this book. Then my next favourites were Enid Bylton and I wanted a magic faraway tree in my yard. I was in High School when mum bought The first Billabong book for me. I loved Cherry Aims and Sally Baxter reporter.

Dale Harcombe said...

Faourite stories growing up What Katy Did and Little Women.
Loved Mary's first Barangula book and would love to be in the giveaway.

Mary Hawkins said...

I have to confess not at all familiar with some of the favourite books mentioned here. Perhaps it is a "generation thingie"? LOL.
I too loved Little Women, Dale, and the others in that series, including "Little Men" about Jo's boys.
Thank you all for your comments - very encouraging.

Ausjenny said...

Mary I dont know some of these books either. I did read little Women and the rest of the books in the series but not til I was older.
Dale I have heard of What Katy did but dont remember reading it.

Pamela J said...

I don't have any favorite books that I read when I was little or growing up: I didn't start getting serious about reading until my kids were little and growing up, going to grade and high school. I'd love to read a book by Mary. Thanks for entering me in your drawing.
Pam Williams
cepjwms at wb4me dot com

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