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Interview with J. Hawki, Author of Elephants and Chopping Blocks Retain Their Natural Color and Catch an Elephant by the Tail

Author’s Bio: Author J. Hawki was born in Baltimore.  Inspired by her love for books, thrillers in particular, she began writing more than twenty years ago.  She published her first book, Elephants and Chopping Blocks Retain Their Natural Color in 2012, and released its sequel, Catch an Elephant by the Tail, in April of 2018.  Retired after an extensive career in Health Care Administration, she lives with her family in Maryland. 

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
JH: I love to read a good book that captures my imagination and carries me into another world. Thrillers in particular provide the type of adrenaline rush I crave most.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? 
JH: Three books and seven writers influenced me more than any others. The books are Durango Street, The Other Side of Midnight, and Trinity, and the authors whose style I most desire to emulate are Walter Mosley, James Patterson, Stephen King, J. California –Cooper, Dean Koontz, Ken Follett, and Diane McKinney-Whetstone.

DL: How long did it take to write your book? 
JH: My first book took much too long, almost twenty years.  When I began writing, cell phones were not commonly used devices, but by the time I completed Elephants and Chopping Blocks, they were, so I had to go back and add instances where my protagonist, Kirsten, used her cell phone.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
JH: My stories are usually developed in my head and reside there for some time until I have time to write.  When I do, the stories pour out of me easily and flow quite naturally, but on rare occasions I may use an outline to carry me through difficult segments when I get stuck.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
JH: No, I do not listen to music, in fact, I prefer silence when I’m writing, and tend to write at times when my house is quiet.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)? 
JH: Soliciting the help of experts.  Most new authors make the mistake of thinking we know what we are doing relative to every aspect of our book.  We do not.  Experts at editing and proof-reading and marketing are invaluable in guiding writers to marketing in a more professional way.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
JH: The first thing I would advise aspiring writers to do is to learn as much as you can about the craft of writing first. Know sentence structure, grammar, descriptive writing, hooks, plots, character development and pacing.  Read books and notice what good writers do to hold your interest, and then try to use what you’ve learned when you start to write. Have a plot in mind or story line in mind, know your characters, and know how your story ends before you begin.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Catch and Elephant by the Tail?   
The old man splashed and struggled to no avail. He wasn’t strong enough now to impose his will on anyone, but he had been once. He was the cause of so many heartaches, this ignorant, weak-willed, simple-minded man who enjoyed passing himself off as a kindly old doting grandpa. Later, Malcolm would remember him with disdain. Now he was drowning him to death.

Magda would not have approved, and neither would Benita, which was why he had to make it look like an accident. He held the old man under the water until he stopped struggling, until the fight and spirit had left him. Then he pulled him out, wrapped his arms around his grandfather’s saturated, limp remains, and wept uncontrollably.

He carried the old man back to the house and pushed open the screen door. Benita shrieked when recognition of the dire situation eclipsed her usually joyful mood, the one that always infected her when she was surrounded by family.

The house had been lively with nonstop music and dancing just before Juan entered. All of her sons and their families were there, plus his mother and him, and he had ruined it for them all. They surrounded him, removed the body of his grandfather from his arms, and wailed as they worked in vain to revive him. As they did, Magda stood off by herself and watched.

DL: What’s next for you?  
JH: I intend to continue promoting and selling my first two books but have started two other projects that I hope to devote some time and attention to.  One is a biography of my son, Michael, and his struggle with a rare and debilitating illness, Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, which he was born with, but which wasn’t diagnosed until he was twelve years old.  I am also working on a new novel tentatively called, In a Green Tree, and have plans to write the third installment of Elephants and Chopping Blocks series tentatively called, Foxes Have Holes.

DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?

·       Website: http://www.authorjhawki.com/

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.








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