Q&A With Karen Hawkins
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Q&A With Karen Hawkins
On Tuesday December 13th I received a response in an email back from Karen Hawkins saying she’d be delighted to do a Q&A with me. Karen Hawkins novels have been on the New York Times Bestsellers & USA Today’s Bestsellers Lists. Karen has written historical romance, and fiction. Three of the fiction novels she wrote are part of a trilogy or series, the first novel being “The Book Charmer”. Coming out on August 15th is Karen’s new novel The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove. Below is the blurb Karen sent me.
Ella Dove is a talented, free-spirited baker who goes wherever the wind takes her—but driven by a haunting dream, she’s coming home to Dove Pond for the first time in over a decade. Ella believes the dream is a sign it’s time she confront and make amends to her mentor, Angela Stewart Harrington. Years ago, she falsely accused Ella of stealing her coveted family recipe book, known as the Book of Cakes.
Angela has her own share of apologies to make. Her daughter Jules has never forgiven her for divorcing her father, and they’ve been estranged ever since. But just when the door for a possible reconciliation opens, a miscommunication turns into a lie that could destroy their relationship forever.
Meanwhile, Jules’s son Gray is shocked that Ella, his first love and his first heartbreak, has returned to Dove Pond. But even though he knows Ella is a wanderer and will soon leave, he’s unable to stop himself from falling for her once again. Can Gray find a way to convince Ella to give him, and their magical town, a serious chance? Or is he once again on the road to heartbreak?
With so much at stake, Ella, Angela, and Gray must learn to accept each other—flaws and all—forgive the many mistakes of their pasts, and trust that love can, and will, always find a way. For fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen, The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove is a delicious and magical read that will warm your heart and charm your senses.
Q: So what do you love about writing fiction and historical romance?
A: I love creating my own worlds, times, and places. As for why romance (and all of my books are romantic, if they’re not technically a romance), because it’s one of the most enriching experiences we can have.
Also, I love working from home. PJs are my friend.
Q: When in your life did you realize you were called to be an author?
A: When I was in my thirties, I was taking political science classes for a PhD, working full time, and raising two kids. And so I found myself with no time for recreational reading, which I’ve always loved. In addition, I was doing so much dry, scientific reading that my soul was rebelling. Without the time to really savor reading a book, I decided I’d just write one instead. I also decided to write a romance, as they were the most fun to read.
So, I joined a meets-only-once-a-month writing organization, the Georgia Romance Writers. They did tons of workshops on character arc, story pacing, developing a voice, correct submission, and other important skills. Once I got the hang of that, then every day for months, at 10:30 to 11 p.m., after the kids were in bed and my work was done, I’d type a few pages.
Eventually, I had a book. I started submitting it to contests and won a bunch. Then, once the book was published, I started submitting it to publishers. One of the editors called to say that she’d loved the book, but that it was set in a less-marketable time period. She added that if I’d write a book set in a more popular time period, like Regency England, she’d buy it.
Six months later, that’s what she did.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to be an author? What advice do you give to anyone struggling with writer’s block?
A: Find a good writer’s group and join it. They have groups for all the main genres – romance, mystery, thrillers, horror, children’s books, etc. They know all the tricks, and provide crucial intel on what publishers are looking for on any given day. I’d also say that getting a good, strong agent is more important than getting a publisher. The one will lead to the other.
As for writers’ block, the few times I’ve had it, it was because I wasn’t writing the story the way it needed to be written. Whenever I find myself unsure what to put on a page, I step away and do something else – I paint or organize a closet or just take a long walk in the woods. The answer always comes to me when I’m doing something else and then I’m eager to get back to work and fix whatever mess I’ve written myself into.
Q: I see on Amazon that you co-wrote with Julia Quinn who is the author of The Bridgerton novels. What was it like co-writing with her? What advice do you give to anyone who would consider co-writing with a friend or a family member?
A: Most anthologies don’t constitute writing “with” someone, as individual authors submit things through their editors and rarely talk to one another. However, we wrote this anthology a little differently, so it took a lot of phone calls and work. I’m not sure if this is a first for an anthology, but we interlaced our stories, which meant we had three events that all of our characters were at – like a ball, the Frost Fair on the Thames, and a walk through Hyde Park. I set up online charts so we could each put in what our characters were doing at that time, and what they were wearing. Then our characters from one story could see/talk to/impact the characters of another story, even though it didn’t change the story. Example: Someone’s character at the Frost Fair was ice skating and was horrible at it and knocked down someone else’s character. Although they’d apologize, that would be the extent of their interaction, but it allowed the readers to see the same event from multiple views, which is fun.
It’s always fun to work with other authors. I meet every year for a week’s retreat with authors Suzanne Enoch, Stephanie Laurens, Victoria Alexander, Susan Andersen, and Linda Needham. We have a blast, share exciting ideas, help each other plot our next work, and support each other both professionally and personally. The author world is a friendly one and I love that about it.
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so, is it part of any of your series or is it a standalone novel?
A: All of my books are standalones and don’t need to be read in any order. Right now, I’m writing a women’s fiction novel about one of the Dove sisters from my Dove pond series. I’m super excited about it because it features a search for a missing treasure and has two timelines – current day, and the late 1880s as we get to know one of the Dove ancestors. I’ve enjoyed writing the Dove series as it has all the things I love – strong female characters, small town dynamics, and a touch of magic. I’ve always wanted to be able to do magic, and I can when I’m in Dove Pond.
Q: If you were to write in a totally different genre, which genre would it be and why?
A: Mmm. That’s an interesting question. Maybe a mystery, something set in a charming British village filled with quaint and unusual characters. That would be fun.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: Not yet, but . . . we shall see. ☺