For the Media – Reviews
J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of only a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Her “Renegade Series” includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, and A Rebel Among Us. All three books are award winners, and tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Pikes Peak Writers. She is also an artist and a singer/songwriter. Ms. Hawkins will soon have a nonfiction book about the War Between the States published, as well as another sequel to the “Renegade Series.”
A Beautiful Glittering Lie, ISBN 978-1-4697-7174-8, published March 2012 by iUniverse, $14.95 paperback, $24.95 hardcover, is available to order from Barnes and Noble.com, Amazon.com, Books-a-Million.com, and iUniverse.com.
A Beckoning Hellfire, ISBN 0-595-43531-9, published August 2007 by iUniverse, $14.95 paperback, $24.95 hardcover, is available to order from Barnes and Noble.com, Amazon.com, Books-a-Million.com, and iUniverse.com.
A Rebel Among Us, ISBN 978-1537167879, published September 2016 by Foundations, LLC, $19.99 paperback, $39.99 hardcover, is available for order from Barnes and Noble.com, Amazon.com, Books-a-Million.com, and Foundationsbooks.com/library.
firstname.lastname@example.org. The author may be reached at 970-988-6095.
Tell us a bit about your family. I have been married for 35 years. My husband and I have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a grandson.
What is your favorite quality about yourself? I am very detail oriented, which I feel is an essential ingredient when writing a series. For example, a character can’t have blue eyes in one book and brown eyes in another.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? My favorite quote is by Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I think that pretty much says it all. If you want something to change, make it start with you.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I am very proud of my kids, and I’m proud of being honored with several awards for my writing.
What is your favorite color? Blue
What is your favorite food? I have several – seafood, Mexican, and Italian.
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? I have several favorite places, including the beach and the mountains, but I’d have to say that Ireland is my absolute favorite. I love everything about it. My ancestors came from Ireland, and when I’m there, it feels like home. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My parents were always extremely supportive of my artistic pursuits. They insisted that I go to college, and now I’m glad they did.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I started writing at a very young age, beginning with poetry, expanding to songwriting, and then moving on to articles, short stories, picture books, and novellas.
When and why did you begin writing? I began writing when I was in the third or fourth grade. I loved challenging myself by using words to describe things in a colorful, poetic way.
How long have you been writing? I think since I was eight or nine. A long time!
When did you first know you could be a writer? I knew I was pretty good at it when I started getting recognition in grade school. Some of my poems got published in the school newsletter.
What inspires you to write and why? I get inspiration from nature, museums, music, and other writers. Because I write about the Civil War, getting outside and imagining what soldiers experienced helps me to visualize various scenes. I also listen to period music, visit museums to get a feel for what it was like to live in Victorian America, and read the works of other Civil War authors to see how they interpret that time as well.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? I’m comfortable writing many genres, but I find that writing historical fiction is challenging and interesting. However, I recently completed a murder mystery, and that was a lot of fun to write.
What inspired you to write your first book? I went to Gettysburg and saw the battlefield for myself. I had never seen a battlefield of that enormity before, and the experience effected me so profoundly that it inspired me to write a book from a typical Confederate soldier’s perspective.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began? I had some supportive college instructors who saw my potential and helped me to develop it.
Who or what influenced your writing over the years? My family influenced me, as well as personal experiences. To me, human interaction is one of the most fascinating things to write about.
What made you want to be a writer? I wanted to become a writer because I enjoy describing things and telling a compelling story.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Keeping details strait, and editing. It can be tedious at times, but it is rewarding to see the finished product.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? I learned about what the 4th Alabama went through, the horrors they witnessed, and the strength they displayed in order to survive. I also learned much about the Confederate cavalry, and the flamboyant J.E.B. Stuart.
Do you intend to make writing a career? Absolutely
What is your greatest strength as a writer? I think that interpreting character interaction and dialogue is my greatest strength. Or at least, that’s what some critics have told me.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I have on occasion, but to cure it, I go to a quiet place where I can concentrate on the plot without any distractions. I usually get through it pretty quickly.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? It is a nonfiction book about Confederate horses in the Civil War.
How did you come up with the titles? A Beautiful Glittering Lie is based on one of my favorite quotes. Confederate soldier Henry Morton Stanley explained the war by stating that it was a “glittering lie,” and I added the word “beautiful” because the War Between the States began as a wonderful, delusional exploit for both sides. No one had any idea that it would last four years and cost so many lives. A Beckoning Hellfire just came to mind when I thought of how the protagonist, David, was lured into the war. A Rebel Among Us was part of A Beckoning Hellfire, but when the book got to be too long, I split it in half.
Can you tell us about your main character? He is a Southern farm boy who is trying to become a man. After enlisting in the Confederate cavalry, he experiences suffering and loss, and he is conflicted between his obligation to his family and his desire for adventure.
How did you develop your plot and characters? Because I wanted to focus on a young Confederate soldier, I started with the main character, built his family around him, and added his home and friends. The first book I wrote in the series, which I am calling the “Renegade Series,” is A Beckoning Hellfire. That story expanded into two sequels, one of which is A Rebel Among Us. I then went back and wrote a prequel, which is A Beautiful Glittering Lie.
Who designed the covers? The cover art for A Beautiful Glittering Lie is titled “Up Alabamians!” by Don Troiani. The cover art for A Beckoning Hellfire is titled “Honor and Immortality” by Dan Nance. The cover art for A Rebel Among Us was done by Dawné Dominique.
Who is your publisher? iUniverse published the first two novels. Foundations, LLC published A Rebel Among Us.
Why did you choose to write these particular books? I wanted to tell the story of typical Confederate soldiers, and how the war impacted them and their family. Many Southern states did not want to secede from the Union, and this story explains how a typical farm family got drawn into the conflict.
What was the hardest part about writing them? The battle scenes and POW camp scenes were the most difficult to write. I wanted to make them as realistic as possible, which meant I had to go into detail about graphic gore and emotional trauma.
How do you promote these books? Besides writing my own blog, https://jdrhawkins.com/blog, I participate on other blogs, and post frequently on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and some other social media outlets. I attend conferences, do speaking engagements, participate in reenactments, and hold book signings. Because my advertising budget is limited, I have done a little bit of display advertising, but mostly, I have promoted it through local media. I have also entered the book in several contests.
Will you write others in this same genre? I have written another sequel to this series, which I am calling the “Renegade Series.” I will probably write more books about this time period since, to me, it is one of the most fascinating in American History.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? The main message is that, even though terrible things happen, the power of the human spirit will always prevail.
How much of the story is realistic? A Beautiful Glittering Lie is based on the journal of adjutant R. T. Cole, who was a soldier with the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment. Most of the situations and characters described are based on real people and events. The main characters are fictitious, but their experiences are also based on fact.
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Yes. I think that every writer incorporates personal experiences, and my writing is no exception. The main character, David, and his best friend, Jake, are loosely based on my son, Jeremy, and his best friend, Ben.
How important do you think villains are in a story? I think they are critical to the suspense of a story. Every great novel has a great villain to go with it.
What are your goals as a writer? My primary goals are to entertain, teach, and tell a good story.
Do you have to travel much concerning your books? I make it a point to visit the places I write about in my books in order to make them authentic. Getting the terrain right and imagining the placement of armies on various battlefields helps me to visualize what actually took place at these sacred places.
What books have most influenced your life? Black Beauty, Gone With the Wind, Heaven Is For Real, and Cold Mountain. I love reading inspirational stories, classics, stories featuring strong character arcs, and books that affect my psyche.
Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Yes. I have written another sequel to this series, which I am calling the “Renegade Series,” and I am currently working on a nonfiction book about the Civil War.
Have you started another book yet? I have started several. Some are ready for publication, and some are still in the works.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself as a more experienced author with several more titles under my belt.
What are your current writing projects now? I am working on a nonfiction book about the Civil War, and I plan to start a memoir later this year.
What contributes to making a writer successful? In my opinion, perseverance, marketing, getting out and meeting people, blogging, and attending conferences.
Do you have any advice for writers? Take criticism with a grain of salt. Most reviews are just opinions. Expect to receive both good and bad reviews, and use constructive criticism to improve your writing skills.
Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? You won’t succeed unless you never give up.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I swim, walk, sing, play guitar, and garden.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? I have met some wonderful people that have become lifelong friends, and I have advanced my writing career by winning several prestigious awards.
If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Always strive to become a better writer. Attend classes. Seek professional advice. Read other authors who write in your genre. And keep going!
When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? I don’t think I will ever stop writing, but I hope that my works will make an impression on people. I’d like to leave a legacy behind, something that my kids and grandkids can be proud of, and something that I can be proud of as well.
(For A Beautiful Glittering Lie)
We are so proud to announce that A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War by J. D. R. Hawkins is a 2012 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. This assures readers that this is a book well worth their time and money!
– G. Indiebrag, B.R.A.G. Medallion Committee
This is a very good book! From first to last, it was exciting and thoughtful.
– Writers Digest
Civil war tore families apart, and many of those families fought to stay together every step of the way. “A Beautiful Glittering Lie” is a novel of the American Civil War, as J.D.R. Hawkins writes of the Summers family and the rift the war brought to their family. Drawing on her heritage to tell the tale, Hawkins presents an insightful and riveting read of a family at war. “A Beautiful Glittering Lie” is a strong pick for historical fiction collections.
– Able Greenspan, Midwest Book Review
Just finished reading the new J. D. R. Hawkins book. It was a real page turner. So exciting! I am anticipating the third book in this series. This author is surely one we will hear from long into the future.
– Alma Straw, President, Delta Divas Book Club
(For A Beckoning Hellfire)
A Beckoning Hellfire is an excellent book!… Hawkins does an excellent job of portraying David’s emotions, showing everything a young soldier would experience on his first tour.
I enjoyed reading this book … Ms. Hawkins intrigued me sufficiently to read volume two.
– Midwest Book Review
Awesome book with amazing accuracy … The character progression that protagonist, David, goes through is deep and compelling … Definitely pick this book up!
– Jeremy Parker Ryan, Boulder Daily Camera
… Ms. Hawkins does a very good job of developing David’s character arc; transforming his revenge driven exuberance to kill a few Yankees into the suffering and pain of seeing death and destruction all around him. Ms. Hawkins also does an exemplary job with her battle scenes, though brief, they are very well done, and she pulls no punches when it comes to showing her readers the blood and gore of a Civil War battlefield.
– James D. Miller, Reviewer for the COCWOC Civil War Blog
(For A Rebel Among Us)