D.J. Hawkins is an emerging author and poet from Upstate, New York. Her debut YA novel “This Mess You’ve Made” was published in November 2020. D.J.’s writing has been praised for its use of poetic imagery and exploration of complex topics like self-harm and depression. Her poem “The Allegory of Us” has also been published by Oprelle publications in the anthology titled “Matter.”
A middle school teacher by day, novelist by night, D.J. earned her BA in Literature from Hamilton College and a Masters of Teaching in English Education from BU. She currently lives in southern Massachusetts with her fiancé and chonky cat Tofu.
Where are you from?
“Syracuse, New York. I now live in southern Massachusetts.”
What is your favorite genre to read/write?
“To read and write, I prefer romance (YA, adult, paranormal). But I definitely expand my reading lists to include thriller, classics, ect. I think the only genre I tend to avoid is nonfiction.”
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
“I am an avid supporter of Markus Zusak and Elie Wiesel, but so many books have fostered my love for words. To name a few favorites: “Night” by Elie Wiesel, “The Book Thief” and “The Bridge of Clay” by Markus Zusak, “Medea” by Christa Wolf, “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller, “Red Moon” by Benjamin Percy, and “The Picture of Dorian Grey” by Oscar Wilde. I try to find inspiration and influence not only from books, but from real life events and other forms of media.”
Who/What inspired This Mess You’ve Made?
“Personal struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts when I was a teenager. I started self-harming when I was 11 and stopped when I was in college, so I’m currently 6 years self-harm free although the thoughts and emotions still plague me sometimes. This story was so important because so many of us experience depression, anxiety, and insecurity but mental health (and body positivity) is only recently becoming a topic we can openly talk about without the stigma.”
What is the significance of the title?
“Life is full of messes and we get so worn out trying to prevent them and/or clean them up. But in the end, we have to (or should) pick up the pieces and move on with life.”
Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.
“Not only does the cover act as foreshadowing and a peek into the past, it’s symbolic of Savannah feeling like she is drowning. But she’s reaching toward the light and trying to swim away from the darkness beneath her. That light could symbolize something or someone trying to save her.”
Is there any new release we can expect in 2021 or in the future?
“I have a paranormal romance novel coming in June called “Quietus” and a poetry book titled “Rising Phoenix” coming in the winter of this year. A sequel to “This Mess You’ve Made” is expected in 2022 and the working title at the moment is “Learning to Breathe.”
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
“Everything and anything that makes me feel something, everything, or nothing at all.”
What do you think makes a great story?
“Relatable – but not always likeable – characters and a plot that draws you in. For me personally, I love descriptive writing and expressive dialogue.”
What advice can you give to an unpublished author?
“If you want it bad enough, make it happen. Don’t make excuses like “it’s not the right time” or “it’ll never be good enough.” We are our own worst enemies and we stand in the way of sharing something special with the world. We have to push through any insecurity or indecision and take the plunge.”
One signed copy of “This Mess You’ve Made” with two metallic bookmarks (Giveaway ends on 16 April 2021)
Alternative link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b8573fc17/?
(Author is responsible for the giveaway and open internationally)
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
We want to thank D.J. Hawkins for signing up for the Debut Author Spotlight.
Interview done by HVDB Book Life