Taken from the Author’s Webpage:
D.W. Hawkins was born in Kennesaw, GA into a very creative family. From his mother, he received the gift of art, from his father, the gift of music. Both parents, however, were avid readers, and D.W. is no different. He grew up in both Summerville, GA and Acworth, GA, and eventually graduated and went off to college to study computers. It didn’t take long to figure out that he hated that, so he decided to try and become a rock star, and attended the Atlanta Institute of Music. He loved it there, but music didn’t pay the bills, so he bit the bullet and joined the United States Army. During his time in the Armed Services, D.W. travelled all over the world, including three combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Through it all, he worked hard on completing his first book, The Sentient Fire. He currently lives in Savannah, GA with a fifty-pound Pit Bull who is thoroughly convinced that she is actually a Chihuahua. He has a beautiful wife, and a son on the way. You can find him working hard on writing his books, riding his Harley, playing guitar, and spending time with friends and family. You can email D.W. Hawkins at email@example.com
I have recently had the opportunity to “sit down” with D.W. Hawkins via email, and he was kind enough to allow an interview so that we could all get to know him better! Below are the interview questions and his answers.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, where to start? I’m a husband, a brother, a son, a veteran, a biker, and a musician. Also, I’m an author, haha. I love my family, my friends, playing guitar, Harley Davidson motorcycles, Jack Daniels, and just having a good time.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
All sorts of things. I’m one of those people that have a lot of hobbies, and so I go through phases where I’ll do yard work, practice guitar heavily, play with my RC helicopter, play video games, or go stir crazy and spend as much time away from my house as possible. The one thing that never changes, though, is reading. I spend a lot of time reading or listening to audiobooks in my truck.
3. Is there anyone who has influenced/encouraged you to write? Who and how/why?
Well, there have been many people, but mainly four people in my immediate life that helped me out the most. My father was instrumental in showing me the beauty of reading and really unlocking that world for me. My mother has always supported my creative side, and my cousin Jason has been with me since the start of this whole thing, and also does all the artwork for my books. Most of all, though, my wife has pushed me to stay the course and has supported me more than anyone on a personal level. I can’t forget to thank my aunt Judy as well, for her editing and for setting me on the right path to publication.
4. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first piece of fiction?
Well, I actually started writing a very early version of The Sentient Fire as a gag in college. I couldn’t stand to only do it halfway, though, so over time it became this larger project on the backburner during a time where I wanted to be a professional musician. As I got older, and the book changed and grew with me, was rewritten and self-edited again and again, and one day I just realized that I wanted to be an author. So The Sentient Fire stuck with me all that time, for around ten years, until I let my aunt read it. She was so stoked about it that she offered to edit it for me, and also told me about the world of self-publishing, which until that time I knew absolutely nothing about. To me, it sounded so much better than trying to go through a traditional publisher or agent, getting rejection letter after rejection letter, and possibly not even getting published. So, I decided to just make sure on my end that the book was good enough, get it edited, and let the readers decide whether or not my book was worth reading.
5. Do you have a day job as well?
I do. I was a Blackhawk Crew Chief for nine years in the Army, and now I’m an aircraft mechanic.
6. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I first started writing when I was in college, and finished my first book back in November, editing and all. I published it soon after.
7. How did you choose the genre you write in?
Well, I write fantasy because I love fantasy. It’s my favorite genre, but I do have projects going in other genres. I love to read anything that goes outside the bounds of the everyday. For me, that’s the point of reading.
8. Where do you get your ideas?
I brainstorm on them sometimes, and sometimes I have weird dreams that I think a story could come out of. I usually build stories around scenes or characters in my head that seem worthy of one.
9. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
All the time, sometimes for months at a time. The upside is that when I’m on a roll, I can pump out thousands of words a day, sometimes. The way I usually get past it is to take a break, do something to clear my head, and come back to it a few hours later.
10. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I keep a very vague outline that shows only a few key events in the entire book, and I write to those events. Outlines never survive the first few paragraphs for me, because I keep coming up with new ideas as I go. There’s no way that I’m going to stop, go back and edit the outline to reflect the new information, then turn around and try to keep writing with my now lost momentum. It just doesn’t work for me.
11. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
There is many and no way that I could name them all. Jim Butcher, Joe Abercrombie, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Glen Cook, and David Gemmel, to name a few. They’ve all influenced my writing in one way or another, either as an adult or by shaping my ideas of what makes a good book as a child.
12. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I don’t think so. The circumstances surrounding the publication of The Sentient Fire were sort of the perfect storm, at the time. I had plenty of free time to finish the book, get it edited, revise it, and ensure that everything was formatted correctly. I don’t think I would change anything except maybe doing a little more homework on the marketing front.
13. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I mainly use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a lot of money to put toward a huge marketing budget, so I go with a more direct approach. I like to run contests as often as I can, do giveaways to generate buzz about my book, build relationships with book bloggers like yourself and all the great bloggers that have participated in my tour, so far. It might be a little tougher, but I think it comes through to people that I try to be as personable and accessible as possible. If someone tells me that they love my book, I try my best to find the time to reply to them and thank them for reading it, ask them for an honest review, and generally just try and have a more personal relationship with readers and fans. It does get harder as my fan base slowly grows, but I do read all my emails and comments, and try my best to reply in a timely manner. I think the best sort of marketing for any book is one reader telling a friend “you’ve got to try this book”, and I know that when I buy a book, the first thing I check out are the reader reviews.
14. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Nope. That’s the great thing about being independent. I own all the rights to my work, and can publish whenever I think a particular work is ready. Everything that I’ve felt was ready for the market to date is out there.
15. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Well, there are a few on the line for publication in the future, but I imagine you’re asking more about book two of The Seven Signs. It’s called The Awakening Storm, and it will pick up a few weeks after The Sentient Fire leaves off. I don’t want to reveal too much about it, but it continues the story began in book one, and I’m working on making it more exciting, more revealing, and more interesting than the first book. I poured a lot of creativity into The Sentient Fire, but like any writer I’m always learning, and getting better and better as time goes on. I hope that comes out to the readers in book two. My tentative deadline is November of this year, and I will post updates on my website, blog, and Twitter and Facebook accounts to inform my readers of any changes.
16. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Well, the story itself is purely fictional, of course. However, I definitely drew on many of my own life experiences during the course of writing the book. Some of my experiences overseas during my time in the war came through on many pages, and I was able to apply my knowledge of flying during a few scenes. Some of the characters are based on people that I know. I guess you could say that it’s a mixture of both.
17. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Definitely the last three or four chapters of the book. There were many exciting parts to write, but the final battle and the events leading up to it were the most fun for me.
18. How did you come up with the title?
Well, I had originally named it something else, but The Sentient Fire described a key element of the story that resonates through the entire book. It also allows me to keep a recurring theme throughout the series for the titles and book covers, and plus it just sounded really good.
19. What project are you working on now?
Mainly I’m working on finishing The Seven Signs. There are a few other projects on the side, one of them you can get a sneak peak at by downloading my free short story Underneath. If you’ve read it, then rest assured that you’ll see more of the character featured in it, Damascus, in the future. If you haven’t, check it out. It’s free, after all. There are other things coming, but they won’t be out for a few years.
20. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I’m working on putting out The Awakening Storm, The Seven Signs Book Two in late November of this year.
21. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’m really intrigued by the idea of the Steampunk genre. I like how that one genre more than any other allows for scientific possibilities that could have happened, but didn’t. It really opens the door for a lot of creativity and incredibly interesting settings, which in turn are super fertile ground for stories to grow. I plan on writing something in that genre in the future, but I don’t want it to be solely a “look at me, I’m Steampunk” kind of story. I want it to be different. There is an idea banging around my head, but it’s not ready to come out and play, yet. Hopefully, though, it will be soon.
22. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Well, my book hasn’t been out very long, yet, so I haven’t received a lot of tough criticism to date. I’m steeling myself for it, though, because it will inevitably come. I’ve received some amazing reviews and comments from fans, though, and every one of them means something to me. I will tell a funny story, though. During my writing process, one of the things I would do is send the manuscript to my brother to get his opinion on it. When I asked him what he thought about it, he said something along the lines of “It’s really good, man, really good. I mean, you’re no George R.R. Martin, but it’s good.” Back in mid-March, Greg Pellechi, who runs the blog “The World Writ Small”, said in his review that the best comparison for my book was GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire. That, of course, was an amazing compliment, and it did make me laugh a bit as well, hearing my brother’s comparison reversed.
23. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to stay the course. Don’t get discouraged because you don’t think you’ve got it in you, or that your book can’t possibly be as good as “book x”. Work at it, get an editor, and keep going. If you love your book, then there’s someone out there who will, as well. Also, learn as much as possible about Twitter, Facebook, and other ways to market your book.
24. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
First and foremost, thanks, thanks some more, and thanks again, haha. Seriously, I’ve received some great comments from readers on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and each time someone gives me the smallest compliment, it makes me feel awesome. I really appreciate their continued support and love, and I’ll continue to do my best to provide them with good reading material. I couldn’t do what I do without them.
Well, there you have it folks. I would like to thank D.W. Hawkins for sitting down with us and allowing us to have this glimpse into the mind of a man who I feel is going to be a great asset to the literary world. I am already a huge fan, and I hope that many of you will be, too. Please look for my review before the end of the Weekend!
Here are some links if you would like to learn more about him:
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