With well over 800,000 books in print, Mary Hawkins has been a prominent figure in the Christian fiction world. Mary’s dream of becoming a published novelist became true in 1993 with the release of her first book.
Since then 19 titles have sold world-wide with AUSTRALIA, a collection of contemporary Christian romance novels becoming a best-seller.
Mary and her husband Ray, also now a published author of devotional books, have been in pastoral ministries in New South Wales, Queensland and England. They now live in Australia’s island state, Tasmania.
Mary's published with Harlequin Mills & Boon (Medical romance line), Barbour Publishing Inc (inspirational romance line) and Ark House Press.
Please give a warm welcome to Mary Hawkins.
Mary, I know we both share a country life background, tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I'm a Queensland farmer’s daughter from the Darling Downs, then a registered nurse, I met my husband, Ray, at a Bible College in Sydney where I too had become a student.
Since my graduation there, for over 45 years we have enjoyed a wonderful romance of our own as we shared in church ministries in New South Wales and Queensland. We have a daughter and two sons who have added to our family two beautiful (inside and out) daughters-in-law and now grandchildren.
|Tamar River, Tasmania, Australia|
Over the years I became the author of five Harlequin Mills & Boon medical romances before I had to decide whether to keep writing them or my inspirational romance category novels which were being received very well also.
One of my volumes of four contemporary inspirational novels, AUSTRALIA, became an international best-seller. With my nineteenth title just released there is still that “next book” to write – when I make myself stop reading books by favourite authors, of course!
However, when I was fourteen I followed my father’s example and started keeping a diary. After we had been married a couple of years Ray read them and simply said, “You are a writer. What are you going to do about it?” I was absolutely dumb-founded.
These were the days long before even home computers, and of course the marvellous internet. I had no contact with other writers and no idea where to start until I enrolled to do the Famous Writers Course by correspondence.
As well as basic fiction writing skills, I was encouraged to “write what you enjoy reading the most yourself.” That was fiction and especially romance novels. A short story from one of their assignments was published in Woman’s Day (an Australian monthly magazine) and gave me more confidence that perhaps I could write well enough to be paid to do so. However, it took thirteen years of rewrites and thirteen rejections before I signed my first book contract.
It has only been because of my darling husband’s encouragement through all the ups and downs every writer experiences, his help with the children (and now grandchildren) and the housework still today at crucial times, that I am multi-published today.
I was so thrilled when Ray too had his first non-fiction articles included a few years ago in books from a major US publisher, Harvest House, and now his two own devotional books released to shops this same month as my own new book, JUSTICE AT BARAULA.
Sometimes writers discuss “deep point of view” that can really engage the reader in wanting to know – and care - “what happens next” to characters in our novels.
For me one important element of that is not only my characters’ deepest goals, motives, emotions, thoughts etc, but how their inner spiritual life influences those and is shown by their outward behaviour and responses to life.
Even a character who professes to be an atheist or a believer for whom “the church” is irrelevant is still proclaiming his “kind” of inner spiritual life.
The one thing readers dislike – and of course, editors first of all – are inspirational romance novels that are “preachy.” I do believe though, that what I may not see as preachy other readers may. This perception may also depend on the reader’s own experiences with spiritual matters.
While the hero and heroine’s romance still has to take the prominent role in inspirational romance novels the same as any other romance sub-genre, it is essential that the spiritual aspects of their lives are “shown” and not just “told” and be interwoven in the Goal, Motivation and Conflict of their story.
Perhaps being a preacher’s wife has made this even more difficult for me to do adequately so that my readers never feel they are being preached at! There have been times I certainly do heaps of revisions to try and address that.
You have a new book coming out shortly, can you tell us about it?
JUSTICE AT BARAGULA
Bradley Hunter has fufilled his ambition to be the policeman stationed at Baragula. He longs to prove himself worthy to serve the community that rescued the abused, underprivileged boy he had been. Years before, Brad even risked his relationship with his teenage sweetheart, Madeline Honeysuckle, to leave the area for his essential training and experience. Now he realises she has changed so drastically from the happy girl she had been, his hopes of reviving their relationship seems hopeless.
Not long after Brad insisted he had to leave without her, Maddie’s life had collapsed around her. Her mother’s death was only another catalyst that forced her to believe she was unlovable. Even God no longer answered her prayers because of the woman she has become. Danger from the past begins to stalk and traumatise Madeline again. She is forced to turn to Brad the policeman for protection and his expertise to bring to justice the criminal who again threatens her and those she loves.
Can two young people with scars from their past discover a way back to love, not only for each other but for God whose ways may sometimes be hard to understand, but does exercise His justice, truth and love when and how He wills.
JUSTICE AT BARAGULA is a single title novel but the third in my Baragula series.
Baragula is a fictitious, small rural town set in the Hunter Valley, north-west of Sydney. Despite having now written three series, the only books I actually planned from the start to be a series were my Great Southland historicals.
As with my first novel in the contemporary Search series, there were minor characters in that first Baragula book, RETURN TO BARAGULA, that simply had to have their own stories written. This included the young policeman stationed at Baragula who has to help protect the main characters in Book One and also appears in the second book out in western New South Wales.
Then of course, there was the sister of the hero in Book Two, OUTBACK FROM BARAGULA, who from the very first book obviously (to me anyway!) had “past history” with that policeman. Maddie has never dealt properly with secret trauma from years before that has made her lose faith and become bitter and hard. When her old enemy threatens her and her family again, she needs Brad to protect them all and bring that criminal to justice.
The blurb on the front cover shows the basic theme: While seeking truth and justice, two people scarred by the past need to find forgiveness and real love to have any chance of a future together.
I knew absolutely nothing about police at a one officer station in rural New South Wales. I did wonder at the time if anyone would check out the person surfing through so much of the NSW Police website!
However, a retired detective friend from the Hunter Valley Command answered a page of questions and then kindly read the manuscript and assured me it was “okay” although he unfortunately never did meet a beautiful girl like my hero did!
As a large part of the setting is in the Barrington Mountains for this last book, my son who had worked in Forestry there had to read the manuscript and set his Mum right on several things she thought she had known.
Then there was the dairy farm. Having worked on my family’s dairy farm all those years ago I am glad – after thinking I knew stuff I didn’t about those mountains and forests – I checked out some facts with a dairy farmer from that general area. How that industry has changed since I was a teenager!
The hardest part was trying to deal with the broken heart of Maddie and forgiveness – what one of my characters in the book calls “God’s Impossible Mission.” Do readers think a writer is “weird” who sheds tears for her broken-hearted heroine?
I was about to do the final edits on the manuscript when I heard a talk by a woman involved with an organisation that seeks to provide help and mentorship for women who suffered as my heroine had.
Horrors! I had not given my heroine time to heal! So that meant revision and an Author’s Note at the end of the book directing hurting women to where they too could find support and help.
|One brave lady...|
A sacred crocodile pond in Northern Ghana near the Burkina Faso border – and holding (nervously!) the tale of a crocodile there.
However, after all those years of rejections and writing with virtually no face to face contact with other writers, the one thing I try to encourage writers who are serious about trying to become published is if at all possible to join a local writers’ group.
There is nothing as tremendous as the “iron sharpening iron” principle. While the internet fellowship we can share now is wonderful and I value it greatly, if at all possible there is nothing as awesome and important as face to face interaction with other writers – and even more awesome if they are trying to write similar kind of books that you want to.
Even if distance only allows a once a year face-to-face time like writer conferences, seminars, workshop etc, it is still very important to keep informed, learn, learn, learn – and then go home and try to put it into practice of course!
Even after over eighteen years since my first book contract, the one thing I do know is that writers should never stop learning about the current publishing industry, and must important of all, how to write a better manuscript – next time!
OUTBACK FROM BARAGULA
You can learn more about Mary on her website, or follow her blog.
She's also a regular contributor on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog.