Today I bring you an interview with Stacy Hawks. Stacy Hawks is a resident of Alleghany County, NC. A graduate of Wilkes Community College she holds an Associate of Arts in History, a B.A. in History and emphasis in Secondary Education from Brevard College, and a Masters in Education from Liberty University. Stacy is an NC Literary Map author whose debut novel Dividing Ridge: the Unsolved Murder of Elva Brannock won the North Carolina Society of Historians Award for Excellence 2021. She is also the author of 3 poetry collections and enjoys sharing stories from the mountain community she proud to call home.
Tell me about yourself.
First, I just want to say thank you for inviting me to be part of your blog. My name is Stacy Hawks and I reside in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. My books are set in my county and feature some real local individuals. I am a historian and graduate of Wilkes Community College with an A.A. in History, and received my B.A. from Brevard College in History, & an MEd. from Liberty University. While I was attending Brevard I studied the Blue Ridge Parkway, the New Deal, and its impact on rural Appalachia, learning under NC historian and author of The Wild East Dr. Margaret Brown.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing ever since I can remember. In elementary school poetry was introduced into our curriculum and it was something I fell in love with. It could be structured or not structured, vibrant, colorful, sad, enlightening, encouraging, and that ability to speak across multiple emotions really clicked. I also wrote notebooks full of stories and honed my writing skills in high school and college.
What do you like about writing your chosen genre / genres?
I enjoy the ability to combine the past with fiction and work details in that include my community. Being able to share the history of where I am from and introduce others to real people from the community like Sheriff Walter Irwin, Charlie Shepherd, and Mrs. Robert M. Gambill, are just a few reasons why I love writing historical fiction and true crime. I also enjoy the research, it challenges me to be not just accurate, but to find ways to work in some neat facts into my storylines.
Tell me about your latest book titled ‘Devils Ridge’.
Devils Ridge was researched and written shortly after Dividing Ridge was finished in 2010 or 2011. I had spoken with a few individuals about this story as it is loosely based on an article I found when working on Dividing Ridge at our local newspaper. Devils Ridge is about a moonshining, bootlegging, car thieving ring led by one man who has avoided police detection until he steals a vehicle belonging to an important member of a nearby community. My main character Walter Irwin is a deputy at this time, and he works together with an agent from the the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) to try and stop my antagonist, Connor Ridge, and his operation.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
There was an old poetry collection I found a few months back on my hard drive. My friend and editor has it at the moment and they are helping to make it available in Kindle format, probably around March 2022. This would be my fourth poetry collection. I am not sure that I will write another novel, but if I do it will be because a story spoke to me those of my first two.
What is your writing process like?
Very detail oriented. While writing Dividing Ridge I had notepads, notebooks, index cards, and a multitude of books to go through and had to organize for the end notes/bibliography. If it’s based on a true story like Dividing Ridge I had to create a timeline of events as told through the newspaper articles locally, regionally, and nationally. Once the research was done I plotted the chapters and did character sketches. It seems every spare moment was writing down scenes or capturing ideas for dialogue between characters. With Devils Ridge it was more fiction, no newspaper articles or background details appeared in this book like Dividing Ridge which gave me more freedom.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I have heard several arguments for and against the belief of writer’s block over the last couple of years. Do I personally believe in it? No. I do believe a writer can get to a point in their story where they may question or have a moment of indecision about what comes next in their story. That’s natural when you have dedicated a lot time and effort in writing a book. The key is to know when to break and take a moment for yourself, and go back through what you have already written. Reading your manuscript (WIP) out loud can help too. By putting ourselves in the mindset of the reader, not just the writer, we open ourselves up creatively and can see paths where we may not have otherwise.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal and why?
Oh, it’ll always be a Lion. I am constantly hunting a good story haha (and it’s my astrological sign). I can be stubborn and do not give up easily when it comes to finding answers. Plus followers, supporters, and readers are like a pride and I am always loyal.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Settling on a title is probably one of the hardest parts of the artistic process for sure. Another for me is knowing when to stop researching. Sometimes a topic can be so intriguing that I find it hard to pull away and focus on the actual planning of the book.
What advice would you give a new author?
Books are a business. They are a small business, but a business nevertheless. Promote, reach out to the Writing Community with questions, build your social media platforms, and pay it forward. Be kind to other writers, bloggers, podcasters and support them too. Not only are they great connections, but can turn out to be great friends, supporters, & even readers. I have definitely built my TBR (to be read) list by interacting with other indies.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing I am usually reading or watching documentaries dealing with historical figures or events like Ken Burns The Dust Bowl. Recently it’s The Engineering that Built the World on the History. Channel that has my attention on Sunday evenings. I enjoy reading historical fiction, thrillers, mysteries, and more recently fantasy. If I am not engrossed in a book I am usually spending time with family or friends and my cat Zelda (named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife). In the last year I also find myself browsing Twitter and IG too for great reads and interaction with fellow writers.
Thank you to Stacy for sharing with us. If you would like to check out her work, click on the links below.