By J.B. Hawker – B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
The first book I ever published was inspired by Halloween. One warm October day, my son and I were taking a walk around our small Northern California town, enjoying the weather and the Halloween decorations popping up in the neighborhoods. Passing by a particularly grisly tableau, with imitation body parts and fake blood galore, I commented on how easy it would be for a serial killer to get rid of his victims’ bodies by inserting them into such displays.
“That’s a great idea for a book, Mom. You should write it,” my son said.
So, I did…
The book, Hollow, takes place in the imaginary Northern California mountain town of Clark’s Hallow. My working title was Halloween Hollow, but I liked the ambiguous sound of the one word: Hollow.
The main character, Bunny Elder, is recently widowed after many years of marriage to a minister. The book is written from a Christian perspective and includes scripture quotes at the heading of each chapter. I didn’t label it Christian Fiction when it first came out, but after a reviewer accused me of trying to trick readers into reading a Christian work by simply calling it a mystery, I changed the description. Ironically, the next critical reviewer chastised the book for not being “real Christian fiction.”
The character of Bunny has had the same conflicting reception by readers; some find her struggles with following her faith refreshingly honest, while others consider her a terrible sinner.
I had great fun writing the book and weaving names and places from my childhood into the plot.
I was reluctant to let my elderly mother read the manuscript, because I’d included a couple of ‘romantic’ scenes (the ones which made those censorious readers so upset), but after she’d read it, Mom’s only comment was about the serial killer when she said, “Where do you come up with all that gory stuff?”
I needed a serial killer in order to have body parts to hide in the Halloween displays, of course, and he needed to be pretty unbalanced to be a serial killer in the first place.
I managed to get the “gory” stuff out of my system with Hollow, though, and the books which followed are practically gore-free. Actually, Hollow was meant to be a standalone book, but some readers urged me to write more about Bunny and Max, so it grew into a four-book series.
Friends often ask me if Bunny is really me. I always assure them, that, while her attitudes and personality may be similar to my own, her story is purely fiction.
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