Hear No Evil by Mary L. Hamilton
Our guest blogger is Mary L. Hamilton. Mary grew up at a Christian youth camp much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Her memories of people and events offer plenty of ideas for her tween novels. Still a Midwest girl at heart, Mary and her husband live in Texas within range of their three grown children.
Welcome, Mary. You grew up at a camp. Tell us what that was like.
It was the best possible place to grow up. Besides having a lake and recreational facilities in my backyard, it was such a wholesome Christian atmosphere. The off-season was lonely at times but whenever school was out, there were tons of kids around. I learned to adapt to both situations.
What fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?
1 Before I got married, I was a MASH fanatic. I even worked through lunch to get home in time to watch the afternoon reruns.
2 I raised my kids without a television in the house. (After MASH’s final season of course.)
3 I dislike shopping.
4 I love coffee’s aroma but can’t stand the taste, even in ice cream.
5 Chocolate chunk cookies are my Kryptonite.
Please describe yourself in three words.
Saved by grace.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy knitting, spoiling my Golden Retriever, and I love spending time with my husband and kids. I also waste a lot of time playing computer games.
How did you become involved in writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. Friends often told me I should pursue publication, so when I became a stay-at-home mom, I took a writing correspondence course. That let me get published in magazines but my dream was always to write a novel. When my youngest started school, I took a couple more courses that focused on fiction and novel writing. That’s where I’ve spent my time and effort for the last fifteen years.
Where do you write?
I’m a morning person, so my best writing is done from 5-6:30 am when there are no distractions (i.e. before the dog wakes up). I sneak upstairs and hide in an empty bedroom while I write. The rest of the day, I’m either at the dining room table or sitting out on the patio with the dog.
Do you have a dedicated corner or office or nook where you write?
No. I’m waiting for the little cabin with a window overlooking a lake. I could write so many more books with that kind of distraction, I mean inspiration.
Do you always know the title of your book before you write them?
One title has been floating around in my head for years, waiting for me to write the story. But otherwise, no, I have a terrible time coming up with a title.
Please tell us about Hear No Evil.
Hear No Evil, the first book in the Rustic Knoll Bible camp series, is about thirteen-year-old Brady McCaul. Summer camp is no fun for Brady. He’s targeted by the camp bully with cruel taunts and teasing. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. But worst of all, Mom won’t let him come home. She no longer wants him and is sending him to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven.
If Brady has any hope of changing Mom’s mind, he needs to figure out what he did wrong before the end of the week. But when he learns she may be in danger, he sees his chance and risks his life to get home in time to help. His quest leaves him in the middle of the lake late at night with a storm approaching, making him question whether anyone, including God, cares about him.
What do you want readers to take away from your book?
First, I hope they’ll be entertained, but I also hope kids will understand that many of the problems they’re forced to deal with are not their fault. They may suffer as the result of awful things going on in their parents’ life, or their friends’ life, but it’s not necessarily because of anything they did wrong.
Where did you get the idea for your book?
I wanted to write a book set at a camp, because that’s what I knew. Then when my kids were growing up, I witnessed the effects of divorce and split families in the lives of their friends. One day, it dawned on me that I could write a series where kids come to camp with all the baggage from home. But at camp, they’ll gain a new perspective and a better, godly way of dealing with the issues they face at home.
Did you have to do any research for your book?
I did a little. Camp procedures have changed a lot since I was growing up, such as the way food is prepared and served. I always had to check and make sure my setting was up to date.
How long have you been writing?
Since I was a kid. I still have the diary my mom gave me for Christmas in 6th grade—full of boys’ names! As I grew older, I often kept journals. But I’ve been writing seriously since about 1987, although I gave it up for a few years when my kids quit taking naps. I couldn’t find a regular time to write when I wasn’t falling asleep.
When did you sell your first book?
This year! I received my first contract in June of 2013.
What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher?
At my first ACFW conference, Tracie Peterson said writing is subjective. That stuck with me because the first agent I met with didn’t care for my story at all. The second one loved it. So when I heard that from Tracie, I realized it’s a matter of finding an agent or editor who sees things the way I do. Keep writing, and keep looking for that agent, that editor who thinks like you do.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing the next novel in the series, called Speak No Evil. It takes the bully from Hear No Evil and builds a story around him. That’s a challenge, to take a character that’s not particularly likable and make him the hero. But I’m excited about this story. I think it has a great ending.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
If you don’t have any formal experience or education in writing, I strongly suggest you find an independent editor who will look at your work and give you an honest evaluation. There’s so much technique that goes into saleable writing that I never saw until I reached a certain experience level. Find a critique partner or group. And keep writing. Practice makes perfect, although I don’t think any writer has ever reached perfection.
Please tell our readers where they can get your book.
Amazon print and Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/kl5bovo
Please tell our readers where they can find you online.
Any parting comment?
When my kids were young, I read a lot of books to them. My favorites were the ones that engaged me as well as my kids. That’s how I try to write my books. So even though this is aimed at 10-15 yr. olds, I hope adults will read it and find it entertaining as well.
Thank you so much for letting me visit, Jo.
Mary, thank you for visiting with my readers. One of them will win a copy of Hear No Evil that you so graciously offered for a giveaway.
The winner of last Thursday's two blog posts for a copy of Infernal Gates is KayM and the winner of a copy of A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton is Jan. I'll email you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.
Till next time … keep on smiling.