Let's dive right back into things with another fantastic author!
We have Tirzah M.M. Hawkins dropping in, n author of all things dark including horror, fantasy, and snippets of sci-fi. She began writing stories when she was ten years old. Some of her favorites at that age were The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia.
After watching too many horror movies at a young age, she has only recently been able to start sleeping with her feet uncovered at night.
She lives with her husband and their many fur (and feathered) babies including at any given time dogs, cats, horses, goats, pigs (that have happy lives until they are eaten), and chickens (who are only around for eggs).
Her favorite hobbies are reading, writing, researching, school (she currently is board certified as a holistic health practitioner and is enrolled in a doctorate of natural medicine program), singing, and listening to music.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing stories about the age of ten or eleven shortly after reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. My first story was very much a copycat of those books, but it has morphed many, many times in the decades since and is now unrecognizable as a similar story. It will be my epic fantasy/sci-fi series.
After my brother introduced me to Stephen King (starting with The Eyes of the Dragon) at the age of thirteen, and I realized how many books King had written, he became my idol. My plan is to write as many books as King and be even more famous.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My book ideas come out of the blue. I got an idea for one story when my husband and I were watching Netflix one night, and they couldn’t find our account. It was a frustrating thirty minutes or so as we tried to figure it out (#firstworldproblems), but my mind got an idea and ran with it.
A lot of my other story ideas, because I write horror, are from things that I am or was afraid of at some point. I’m still majorly terrified of spiders, hence my story Spidersight. That short story, which became a novel now, was first written when I was fourteen or so.
I believe that story ideas are floating around in the air just waiting for people to pluck them up and be diligent enough to write them out. Fifteen years ago, my older brother had an idea for a horror/dystopian book about forcing children to fight in gladiator-type battles. He didn’t write it so Suzanne Collins gave us The Hunger Games books. Lots of people will have similar ideas, but who is going to sit down and write them out? I’m going to write as many of them as I can that come my way.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I wing it. I’m a pantser. I write when I feel like it. NaNoWriMo is one of my favorite months because I really do sit down and crank out the words. I’m trying to get on more of a schedule and be consistent.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it is a quirk, but writing horror has helped me overcome some of my crazy fears (except for the fear of spiders). I can lie awake at night and wonder, “What is the worst thing that could happen right now,” and picture something crazy crawling out from under my bed and think, “Hmm, how do I make that into a really scary story.” I used to be terrified of the dark, and things under my bed and having to get up to go potty at night, but now that just becomes fuel for my books and stories. And I decided I can’t be afraid of my own stories anymore.
A second “quirk” is that I feel as if I’m destined to be a great writer solely on the fact that I have two middle initials. That automatically puts me in the same league with J. R. R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin, right? Joking! *Holds up sarcasm sign* But still, I do love having two middle initials.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m a hardcore World of Warcraft gamer. I’ve been playing it since 2005, a month after I married my husband. He really wanted to play. I resisted because I had only played platform games, not games on a PC. Well, it was only a week or so after he started that we bought a second computer so we could play together. Sixteen years later, we’re still playing together and still happily married.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband is very supportive. It’s funny cause he really doesn’t like the horror genre. After he read my short story “Hide From the Light”, he said, “It’s really good, but why can’t the good guys ever win?”
I have two brothers and a sister who will probably enjoy my novels once the first one is finally out. The rest of my family is supportive and has made it clear they will NOT read my stories.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Keep writing. I once heard someone say, “Something worth doing well is worth doing horribly at first.” It’s something you need to learn and practice. Take some writing courses and classes. Get feedback from readers in your genre. Keep writing. At the end of each draft, you are a better writer than when you first started the story. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was really little, I was fully convinced that I was going to be a veterinarian when I grew up. I even began taking prerequisites for it at our local community college. Everyone warned me to not start dating until after I graduated. Well, they were wrong. I met my (now) husband, and our lives went in a completely different direction. Looking back now, I think I would be miserable if I had continued down the veterinary path. I’m still very proud of the fact that I neutered a dog once in my life.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. I can get really sucked in and write for hours; and when I come up for air, I can be exhausted. But I love when a story just flows out. That is energizing.
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Excerpt from Dark:
My stomach lurches as the plane’s tires touch the tarmac. I’m mostly used to the plane’s motions by now and the accompanying motion sickness having spent half or more of every day in the air. Even though I hide it well for Courtney’s sake, it’s the thought of leaving the safety of this metal shell that still upsets me.
It’s been 43 days since anyone new has joined our group, but only nine days since we lost someone. The death that haunts me the most though was Julie. I was with her when they took her. Her face is the one I see the most in my recent dreams.
All it takes is a shadow. They can’t come into the light. Any light. But that hasn’t stopped them from wiping out most of mankind.
There were thirty-seven in the group when Courtney and I found Willis’s group, making them thirty-nine.
Willis found us rather. Matt was driving a truck through our neighborhood that morning. Willis was standing in the bed calling out on a bullhorn for survivors.
At first, I couldn’t convince myself that the voice we heard was real. I hadn’t heard another human voice besides Courtney’s in six days, and Courtney was scarcely talking then. It only took me a moment to know that I would rather risk falling into the hands of humans, no matter their intentions, than spend the rest of my nights in that bathroom.
Courtney had refused to leave the bathroom since that first night when they came and killed our parents. We slept during the day as much as we could because we spent the nights bracing the door against them.
They always came back at night. Every night, without fail. From the sound of it on that last night, there had been more of them. I suspected that we were the last of the nearby prey. They were getting hungry. It was only a matter of time before they would find some way to get to Courtney and me. I had to do something.
The power had given out two days before. We spent our nights in the glow of a camping lantern. I was sitting there sharing the last packet of toaster pastries with Courtney when I heard the voice.
“Is anyone there? We have safety.”
We have safety. The words pulled at my being even as my brain told me not to trust them. Don’t get your hopes up. When you’re fifteen, and something they can’t describe in your high school biology book comes into your house at night and kills your parents as they sleep, you wonder if safety is a real thing.
“Is anyone alive? Please come out. We can help you.”
I look at Courtney pleading with her with my eyes to be okay with meeting others. For the past week, she hasn’t for one moment stopped looking like an injured baby deer.
Courtney violently shakes her head “no” and leaves me in indecision agony.
We can’t stay here though. I know that. Any night now could be the night that there are too many of them for us to hold back. The bathroom door is thin; and last night, in the middle of our nightly struggles, I heard it crack. The sound sent chills down my spine in spite of the sweat that fell from my forehead.
These people could be the answer to my prayers. I had decided to drag Courtney from the bathroom today in search of a safer place to hunker down at night. If only we knew someone with a bomb shelter or something similar. I won’t let these creatures tear Courtney apart the way they did our parents.
I can still picture it all so clearly.