Freed from a stifling marriage by her husband’s sudden death, Bunny Elder struggles to find herself in a maze of romance, moral dilemmas and murder.
Bunny Elder’s safe, secure world comes crashing down when the death of her pastor husband thrusts her into a surprising and dangerous world that challenges all her preconceptions and beliefs.
Join her as she becomes entangled in a series of grisly murders and untangles the threads of her true self.
Will her adventures lead her into the arms of her first love? Or into the clutches of a madman?
Stephanie: Hello, J.B.! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, Hollow. Firstly, please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?
J.B.: This is going to sound ridiculous, but I don’t remember submitting my book to indieBRAG. I must have found it through one of the sites I follow for independent authors, submitted the book without much thought of being selected, and forgotten about it. I was completely taken by surprise when they contacted me to tell me I’d gotten the award.
Stephanie: Why did you chose a rural mountain community in Northern California as your setting for your story? And by the way….I love the name, Hollow, for your title.
J.B.: Thank you, when I named the community Clark’s Hallow, I planned to call the book, “Hallow,” but the more I thought about its multiple applications to the story, I knew “Hollow” was the right choice. I grew up in a rural Northern California community, so the setting was a natural.
Stephanie: What are some of the characteristics of your main character, Bunny Elder?
J.B.: Bunny is a woman of a certain age, like me, who spent many years as a pastor’s wife. She is a woman of faith, but no paragon. Bunny is sort of a late bloomer when it comes to knowing what she wants of out of life, but she always wants to do that next right thing.
Stephanie: And how did you chose her name?
J.B.: In my years in the world of ministry, I noticed how many pastor’s wives had unusual first names, hence Bunny’s given name of Leveline, which is not only unusual, but difficult to pronounce correctly. I decided anyone with a name like that would have a nickname and “Bunny” just seemed to fit. I’ve known of a number of ministers with names like Rev. Scripture, or Pastor Deacon, so I gave good old Eustace the surname Elder.
Stephanie: How does her faith help her in her struggles with the death of her husband and her survival?
J.B.: Bunny simply trusts that everything is in God’s hands, so it will work out for her good and His glory. She still has fears, of course, and knows her faith is no invisible shield from harm and pain, but it helps her to keep going in the face of danger. It helps her avoid panic and despair.
Stephanie: Who is Eustace and what is an example of his role in this story? What is a few of his characteristics?
J.B.: Eustace was Bunny’s pastor husband who dies in an apparent accident before the story begins. He was a rigid, stereotypical preacher more interested in keeping his flock on the straight and narrow than himself. He dominated and bullied Bunny throughout their marriage. He is at the heart of the story, since he holds the key to the motive for the murders.
Stephanie: Was there any challenges in developing your characters?
J.B.: These characters were composites of people I’ve known, for the most part, and that made development fairly easy. I already knew how they would speak and react.
Stephanie: Which one are you partial to and why?
J.B.: Well, I love Bunny, of course, but I found myself liking the eccentric horror book writer, Dinks Dodd, more than I expected to.
Stephanie: How long did it take to write your story and what was your process?
J.B.: From the first idea to publication took six years. I had the first draft completed in under a year, but kept putting it aside and going back and revising. I submitted it to a couple of publishers a few years before deciding to go independent and their rejection slowed me down a bit. The story kept tugging at me, so I finally forced myself to do a final edit and self-published. The day it went live was one of the scariest of my life. The next three books in the Bunny Elder series each only took six months from outline to publication. I outline my story and the main characters, then dive into Chapter One. I try to write at least 1000 words per day when I’m working on a book. I write two or three chapters, then go back to the beginning to re-read and rework the first part before jumping off on another group of chapters. I find that helps me keep track of the characters, etc.
Stephanie: Have you written mysteries before?
J.B.: I’ve written a couple that I never published. They were written more for therapy than for publication. I may go back and rework them someday, though.
Stephanie: And what is it that intrigues you the most about them?
J.B.: I love a puzzle and the challenge of trying to give the reader enough information to keep interested, without giving the plot away too soon.
Stephanie: When I asked you in my questionnaire to you about what message you are trying to convey to your readers, I was intrigued with your answer. So you mind sharing with your readers what that is?
J.B.: There are three messages. One is that Christians are simply people trying to please God in their lives, not saints or caricatures. They make mistakes, but keep trying. The second is that there is no hierarchy for sin. Homosexuality is not the unforgivable sin, any more than lying, or gluttony, etc. The final message I’m trying to get across is women don’t stop being women on their 50th birthday.
Stephanie: Are you currently working on another mystery story?
J.B.: I wrapped up Bunny’s story with the fourth book in the series and have begun a new book featuring a few characters introduced in that series. It is set on the Oregon coast. And when do you expect it to be released? I decided a book every six months was too much pressure, so I am shooting for publication in the spring of 2015.
Stephanie: What is some advice you could give to someone who wants to write in this genre?
J.B.: My advice to anyone who wants to write is just to sit down and write. Read tons of books in your chosen genre to get a feel for it, then write your heart out.
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
J.B.: My books are published through Amazon for Kindle and in print. The print copies are available or can be ordered from any bookseller. They may also be borrowed from your local library.
The second book in the Bunny Elder series, Vain Pursuits, which takes Bunny to Italy, is currently being featured in a Kindle bundle of five full-length novels, all set in Italy, by five different well-reviewed authors, “Under the Italian Sun.”
This bundle is a special summer promotion of five books for only 99 cents. It would be a good opportunity for those who like Hollow to get the next book in the series at a bargain price. Right now it is featured by Amazon as a “hot new release.”
Stephanie: Thank you, J.B.! It was a pleasure chatting with you.
Thank you, Stephanie.
Raised in the northern end of the Sacramento Valley in California, J.B. Hawker’s early life was framed by mountain ranges. While her physical vistas were bounded on almost every side, her imagination was free to soar without limits.
“I’ve made up stories my whole life,” said Hawker when interviewed. “While other children might need a flashlight to read under the covers after bedtime, I simply made up my own stories, many of which lasted multiple nights, having intricate details and characters drawn both from my life and my imagination.”
After twenty years serving small churches from Alaska to South Dakota as a pastor’s wife, she returned to her California roots to start over in mid-life as a single business woman and author.
J.B. has published many articles on faith and ministry. She served as on her denomination’s women’s ministry national executive committee as the coordinator for the western United States.
She is a motivational speaker and leadership trainer.
“Hollow” the book awarded the BRAG Medallion, was her first published fiction.
J.B. has three grown sons. Her oldest, the father of her three beautiful granddaughters, lives in northern Italy, the other two live closer, in California.
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.B. Hawker, who is the author of, Hollow, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Hollow, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.