This week’s author interview features Canadian author, W.L. Hawkin.
On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by the end of August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at email@example.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.
You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page HERE.
Now, let’s meet W.L. Hawkin.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I can’t say that I try to be original. I write what intrigues and feeds me. When you spend years researching, writing, editing, and promoting a book, it better be a life buoy; otherwise you’ll both sink. Myths, magic, and different forms of spirituality have always fascinated me, so when I began to write novels, they naturally impacted my work. I am a pagan who believes in the tenets that my Hollystone witches practice so, this too, informs my writing. Perhaps, this is original. I don’t know. It’s just who I am, and I write what intrigues me—what I love to read.
Also, I write about landscapes that I love, where I have travelled, and made connections. For example, the last half of To Charm a Killer is set on the west coast of Ireland—a magical place of great beauty. The sequel, To Sleep with Stones, is set in Kilmartin Glen (on the west coast of Scotland) and explores the idea that the land is alive and retains memories. The third book in this series (Hollystone Mysteries) involves a boat trip up the British Columbia coast. Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth) is my mentor so it’s no surprise that my heroes always go on a quest that involves a journey. As Leo Tolstoy said: “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”
Having said that, I do love to hear from readers and I listen to their feedback. Just recently I was asking readers if I should tone down one of my leads (Estrada) who is a polyamorous bi-sexual magician and high priest of Hollystone Coven. The answer was “no!” Estrada’s flaws propel the plot and impact the inner lives of the characters. Some readers can’t fathom Estrada’s moral boundaries—he believes in freedom and doesn’t discriminate. Even, my editor wanted Estrada to commit. I just shook my head. Estrada does what he wants to do. I just listen.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I started writing poetry as a teenager and then wrote songs. I came to novels later when I was going through a traumatic life change. Writing my first novel helped me through that. I would tell younger Wendy to learn and practice the craft, to join writer’s groups, make writer friends, and sink into the creative zone, but also learn the business. I think I would also tell her to go live “deliberately” in a cabin like Thoreau and read and read and read. I suppose I can still do that!
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx. I just love this book and reread it from time to time to remind myself what great writing sounds like. Proulx won a Pulitzer Prize for this novel in 1994, but I don’t think many people appreciate the lure of this book.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I read my reviews. Good reviews are inspiring. So far, I haven’t read many bad reviews, but I know they happen. A writer can’t please everyone all the time. People have as many tastes as an ice cream store—sometimes you find a flavour you love and sometimes it’s a disappointment. I am always looking for people to write reviews of my books as they are quite important. Everyone seems to go to Amazon and Goodreads to check out your work before they buy.
I also write reviews. For the past year or so, I’ve been submitting to the Ottawa Review of Books. I love being able to promote fellow Canadian writers. If I don’t like a book, I don’t finish it and I don’t review it. That’s my policy. I know what it takes to write a book. I believe in karma, and I’ve seen how devastating a bad review can be to an author. I don’t want to destroy someone because something is not to my taste.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Oh yes. People who know me will see all kinds of things because I write from personal experience (for the most part) especially with regard to travel and the land.
Do you Google yourself?
Sure. Why not?
What is your favorite childhood book?
The Golden Pine Cone by Catherine Anthony Clark. I grew up in rural Ontario and our elementary school library was a broom closet. However, one day I found this book, and it blew me away. Years later, when I bought it online and reread it, I just laughed. I knew I’d loved it, but didn’t remember why. The book is set in British Columbia, where I now live. It’s mythic fiction that features a quest. It involves Indigenous spirits, adventure, and secret magical landscapes. As Wordsworth once wrote: “the child is father of the man.”
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I quit school in grade eleven and didn’t graduate high school until I was thirty-three. I gained invaluable life experience, but came to literature later in life. I’d written poetry, read some, and was blessed with two fantastic English teachers. But how wonderful it would have been to have a mentor to suggest books I should read or coach me in writing. Much later, when I taught English literature and creative writing, I tried to do this for my students.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the book. A few years ago, I drafted a novel in about a month while staying at a B&B on Vancouver Island. It just flowed. But it needs workshopping, revisions, and editing. To Charm a Killer was the first in the Hollystone Mystery series and I was developing characters and finding my way, so it took many years. I self-published it under a penname in 2010, and then revised it and put out a second edition in late 2016 using my own name. The sequel, To Sleep with Stones, also took a few years. Mind you, I was teaching full-time and writing summers and weekends. The third book, To Render a Raven, I wrote this past year. It’s been to the editor and I’m working through revisions and edits. Last summer, I did the research in Ireland for a fourth book featuring the Hollystone characters. And I’m currently researching a brand new book set in B.C. Writing and self-publishing is a juggling act.
About W.L. Hawkin:
My journey has led me from Toronto, Canada, the place of my birth, to towns east of Toronto, and then across the country to the West Coast. I graduated from high school at age thirty-three and then completed a BA in Indigenous Studies at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. I found my voice there, and published poetry and Native rights articles in Canadian newsmagazines. After moving west, I completed Post-Baccalaureate Diplomas in the Arts and Humanities at SFU in British Columbia, where I was published in iamb, the SFU Journal of Creative Writing. I also completed a Teaching Certificate at SFU and taught for several years; my favourite subjects being English Literature and Creative Writing. I also spent a year as a relief lighthouse keeper, enjoying the rugged isolation of the coast, and blogged my adventures at Life on the BC Lights.
I am fascinated by mythology and consider Joseph Campbell a mentor. I continue to explore my Celtic and Tuscarora ancestry, often in my writing. I am a spiritual seeker but my heart lies in nature. I used to think that I was born in the wrong century. Now, I think I’m carrying the threads of past lives—some are stronger and pull me back while others break and splinter. I love prehistory, archaeology, myths, and magic. If I could, I would travel back in time to experience cultures long since changed or vanished.
I started Indie Publishing in 2016 when I created Blue Haven Press. Since then, I’ve published two books in the Hollystone Mysteries series and a third is on its way.
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My books are available through your favourite retailer or on Amazon.