Interview with Author, Olivia Hawker

TS. I always ask for a  brief biography by the author as a warm up to my interview. Operative word ‘brief‘. If what I get is too long or contains boring credentials, I can then edit/shorten it. Following is Olivia Hawker’s bio, untouched by me. It reads more like a friendly letter to her fans and her readers. I hope you, my readers, enjoy it as much as I did. 

OH. I live in the Pacific Northwest, in the San Juan Islands, but I grew up partly in the Seattle area and partly in eastern Idaho. After my parents divorced, I spent the school years in Seattle with my mom and the summers out in the middle of nowhere with my dad. Childhood ties to the Rocky Mountain region persist in me, and I often write about the West. It’s one of my favorite and most often-recurring subjects.
My dad’s side of the family is Mormon, and I was raised in the Mormon religion—another theme that comes up frequently in my writing, even though I am no longer Mormon (or religious at all.)
I knew from the time I was a tiny kid that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Both of my parents encouraged my enthusiasm for the arts, and I was never told I had to have a “backup plan” because a writing career was “impractical.” My dad and my grandpa were both professional artists (painters), so I got to see successful careers in creative fields modeled for me from the time I was a baby. I think I’m incredibly fortunate in that. So many people are told that writing (or any other creative profession) is too impractical to pursue, so they give up before they’ve even begun, or at least they start out with a lot of self-doubt and too much caution. It makes me shudder to think of all the great talents and brilliant voices we’ve missed out on because these creative people were told by their families to pursue something “practical” instead of the art forms that called to their spirits. How many CPAs and dentists out there should have been writers or painters or dancers or musicians instead? Of course, those not-so-creative jobs are critical and important, too, but our culture and our world are hurting right now for understanding and expression. We need more artists, not fewer—and I feel so much gratitude that I was never discouraged in my choice of career, and that I saw with my own eyes that creative fields can lead to stable careers. That empowered me to go for it and pursue my dream of becoming a full-time writer for as long as it took to make it happen… which, as it turned out, was a very long time!
I didn’t go to college for writing or for anything else. I wanted to go very badly, because I value education and knowledge so highly. But my family couldn’t afford to pay for it, and I didn’t think it was wise to take on a lot of student debt just for an MFA or an undergrad degree in creative writing or English lit. I suspected that those degrees wouldn’t get me closer to my goal in any practical sense. Again, I had the benefit of my father’s art career as an example. He was self-taught, so I reasoned that I could become a successful self-taught author, too. I think I made the right decision, given the economic and social options available to me at the time, but now I’m a big advocate for tuition-free college so that no young person will ever have to make the heartbreaking decision to forego that dream ever again.
I always like to make it clear to people that I didn’t go to college and I am self-taught, because I think the arts (writing included) are one of the few professional arenas where those who’ve had the privilege of higher education and those who have been denied that opportunity can truly stand on a level playing field and be real peers. I have built a strong, robust, resilient profession for myself, and I earn a good living from my writing. I think it’s important for young people (and older people!) who are struggling with these difficult financial and educational dilemmas to know that it really is possible to be successful and respected in your field, and to love your life wildly, even if you can’t manage college.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

OH. A. Nowadays I’m fortunate enough to own a lovely little house with a cool loft over the garage. My office is in that loft. It’s narrow as all heck, but I love working there! My writing desk is right in front of a window that looks out on an incredible view of local meadows with lots of wildlife, Griffin Bay, Lopez and Orcas Islands, and Mt. Baker. I’m really inspired and soothed by nature, so it’s such a benefit to my work, to be able to look up from a screen and see all that incredible natural beauty spread out in front of me. My view really has it all: water, islands, trees, fields, one of the most majestic mountains in North America, and critters passing by. I love to watch the light and weather change over that incredible landscape while I’m working. (More)

Don’t miss Part 2 on March 6th.
Did you see my review of One for the Blackbird…?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    December: Dervla McTiernan – January: David Poyer, March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer 
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