I recently had the privilege of being a beta reader for Danny’s Grace, the debut novel of Dawn Hawkins. (If you haven’t seen it, my review of her novel is here.) As an added bonus, I actually had the opportunity to interview Ms. Hawkins. I’d like to share it with you:
You’re a published novelist. Congratulations! How does it feel to have something from your own imagination out there for everyone to see?
Thank you. It’s one of the most exciting things I have ever felt in my life. It is also the scariest. Writing a novel is the closest thing to baring your soul as you can get. Novels may not be true stories, but they certainly come from your heart and soul.
Tell us a little bit about Danny’s Grace.
Danny has had a rough childhood, but he never gives up. He rises above all of the adversity and becomes a famous teen idol. That is not what the story focuses on though. It is focused more on the tragedies in his life and the lives of the people around him. He’s battling drug and alcohol addiction and he has quite a few secrets hidden. Grace is interviewing him so she can get an inside look in order to write a novel of her own. She’s in for a lot more than she bargained for though.
What was your inspiration for writing Danny’s Grace?
Danny’s Grace started out as a novel about drug abuse and trying to get clean. It was an issue close to my heart. That angle changed quite a bit. The focus from the drug abuse problem turned to an entirely different issue when a little girl from my area died at the hands of someone she trusted. The book is actually dedicated to her. Children should never suffer at the hands of someone who should be protecting them from harm.
Do you plan to have a sequel?
I do plan to write a sequel to Danny’s Grace. I think it might be interesting to see what Grace’s real story is. I would write it from her perspective, so her voice is likely to change the way dialogue is handled, and the scenery will change from west coast to east coast. Everyone will begin to wonder who Grace really is.
Do you think you’ll ever write more novels that don’t revolve around these characters?
Absolutely. Just like other writers, there are hundreds of stories just dying for a chance to get out there. I am working on another one now; however, it took a backseat to Danny. All the ideas I have revolve around social issues of the day.
What are you working on now?
I have two novels on the table. They are barely started though. One is the sequel and one is a completely different book about a man named Noah Nevatire and his daughter, Celia. It’s very close to my heart as well. It will take place somewhere in the Midwest, although, I have not quite decided which state yet.
What do you do to relax?
This may sound silly, but, I write to relax. It is the one thing that allows me to get out every frustration, every happy feeling, and every disappointment that I might be feeling. I also enjoy days when the opportunity arises to spend time with my grandchildren.
If you had to live with one of your characters for a year, which one would you choose?
This is a difficult one. You become so involved with each of the characters when writing them that it is like you are living with them. My two favorite characters from the book are Danny and Janelle. It would have to be one of them. I think that Janelle would be fun to hang around with for a year, and I would feel pretty safe with her. Danny is the one that I would have to choose though. He’s a mess, but he’s also a lot of fun. He doesn’t take anything too seriously, and he’s super protective of the people he cares about.
As a Maryland native, what pulled you to set Danny’s Grace in California?
It would have been difficult to do Danny’s story from Maryland. California is where you find celebrities, so it stood to reason. I also thought it would be a fun challenge to try to capture a totally different lifestyle than what exists Maryland.
What would you like your readers to carry with them after they’re done reading Danny’s Grace?
The most important message is that there is hope for everyone, no matter how bad they think they are. Everyone has difficult times; some more than others. In between those difficult times good friends are made, good times are had, and the chance to turn things around is always there as long as you don’t give up.
How can readers connect with you?
I am on both Twitter and FaceBook. My Twitter handle is DDH63. My FaceBook page is https://www.facebook.com/dawnhawkinswriter. More information on the book and my bio can be found at http://www.rockinghorsepublishing.com
Danny’s Grace is being released tomorrow, January 28. You can pre-order it here.