Join us, as we talk with W.L. Hawkin and learn about her Hollystone Mysteries Series featuring a contemporary coven of West Coast witches who solve murders using ritual magic and a little help from the gods.
From childhood, I felt like I’d been born in the wrong century to the wrong culture and the wrong parents. That bewilderment never left me. I’ve always longed to live in a cabin in the woods. As a wild child in rural Ontario, I wrote poetry to survive “the maze, the haze, and the crazy place” that was my world. `
I started playing the church organ at age seven. My dad used to take me with him when he went to write sermons. After a while, he heard me play and paid for piano lessons. By fourteen, I’d earned my grade eight Royal Conservatory certificates, and peaked with classical. My teenage years were crazy and chaotic, but later, in Toronto, I learned to play chord charts, put words to music, and accompany myself.
I quit high school at sixteen, married young, and didn’t graduate until I was thirty-three, but I was bitten by the research bug. At Trent University in Ontario, Canada, I completed a B.A. in Indigenous Studies, worked on healing myself, and found my voice and passion publishing poetry and Native rights articles in Canadian newsmagazines.
After moving West, I completed diplomas in the Arts and Humanities at S.F.U. in British Columbia, where I was published in iamb, the SFU Journal of Creative Writing. I also completed a Teaching Certificate—as a single mother I needed a stable job. But, being a capital I Introvert, teaching high school almost destroyed me. Writing saved me. Weekends and summers I wrote to escape and that’s how the Hollystone Mysteries emerged.
One year, I took a leave from teaching and worked as a relief lighthouse keeper, soaking in the rugged isolation of the Northwest Pacific Coast and blogging my adventures at Life on the BC Lights. You’ll see some of my experiences in To Render a Raven when the coven sail up the Inside Passage to rescue Estrada’s baby from a vampire! Also, I just wrote a paranormal mystery called Ghostlight, set at one of the lighthouses where I worked.
Since I retired from public school teaching, I’ve concentrated on developing an author business and started Blue Haven Press. I still long to live in a cabin in the woods. I still play music: piano and guitar. Although I’m a huge Introvert, I’m also a performer. In fact, I’d rather go to a party where I can jam and sing, than talk to people. I learned to play Trad—traditional Irish music—on the West Coast of Ireland, which is why one character’s father is a trad player. Ironically, I hate musicals.
As a pagan, I’ve explored Wicca, Druidry, Mediumship, and Psychic Development. I’m a Tarot card reader, pendulum dowser, and energy healer. You’ll see shades and shadows of this in my books. I believe in intuition, the influence of spirit guides, and the power of meditation. As an intuitive writer, I capture on the page what I see (movie scenes) and hear (conversations). I’ve started writing a non-fiction book for writers and anyone needing creative inspiration called From Spirit to Page: Writing with your Muse. In it, I provide techniques and tools to help you get those words onto the page. I’ve been workshopping the material and enjoy sharing my writing process.
I just completed my first small town romantic suspense novel set in the Midwest . And yes, my hero lives in a cabin in the woods.
Let’s start with where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?
Hello Readers! Before I went to kindergarten, I was reading myth, magic, and fantasy. Faery stories were my favourites. I grew up in rural Ontario where I spent my childhood in the woods riding my horse and playing with imaginary friends. When I moved to British Columbia, I had no real plan but ended up teaching high school English for many years. I’ve always loved reading aloud, especially using voices, and hope I charmed my students. Macbeth is my favourite Shakespearean play which is why the seventeen-year-old girl in my first book, To Charm a Killer, is writing a Macbeth essay when her dog hears the witches and leads her right into the middle of their ritual. If you need tips in writing an essay for Macbeth, trust me, this scene will help. Actually, all the chapter titles in To Charm a Killer are taken from Macbeth. I still work part-time for an online school but writing is my fulltime passion.
How long have you been writing?
I self-published To Charm a Killer, the first book in my Hollystone Mysteries series, in 2010, but I wrote my first complete novel thirty years ago. Actually, I just rewrote that novel. It’s a romance I found wrapped in brown paper. Before that I wrote poetry, songs, and essays. Prose is really just one long song with tones and beats and rhythm.
Tell our readers about your latest release.
To Kill a King is Hollystone Mysteries Book Four. The series follows Estrada, a free-spirited bisexual magician and high priest of Hollystone coven, as he travels the world saving people he cares about and working through his issues and relationships. Book Three, To Render a Raven, ends tragically for Estrada and he’s lost and grieving when he discovers that his feisty archaeologist friend, Sorcha, is trapped in Iron Age Ireland. She was taken there as a gift by the ancient horned god, Cernunnos; however, the god likes to play dramatic games with humans and left her there. Estrada and his friend, Dylan, demand that Cernunnos take them there so they can rescue her. How will she ever survive Iron Age druids? Unfortunately, by the time they catch up to Sorcha, she’s fallen in love with Ruairi mac Nia, a gorgeous man she knows will be inaugurated as king and then ritually murdered and cast in a bog to cure for two thousand years. How does she know? She’s seen his body in the National Museum in Ireland. It was dug from an Irish bog in 2003. Naturally, she wants to save him from his fate. To Kill a King is a romantic prehistoric time-travel thriller.
What inspired this book?
I was leafing through a National Geographic one night and came upon photographs of Old Croghan Man, a two-thousand-year-old Irish bog body. When I read that he was 6’6” tall, a deposed king ritually murdered in 200-300BCE, and an Iron Age warrior, I had to tell his story. I wanted to give his life and death meaning. I hope I have. Also, I love Ireland. I’ve traveled there three times for research and would live there if I could. To Charm a Killer is also set in Ireland. If there’s a place in the world rife with myth, magic, and mayhem it’s Ireland.
Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book?
One of my favourite characters is Conall Ceol, a sweet Druid bard from ancient Ireland. Ceol means music and Conall is an amazing singer and musician who plays ancient instruments. Conall started out as Ruairi’s sidekick but I fell in love with him (as did Estrada) so his character evolved. Singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel is one of my muses and I gave Conall, Peter’s voice. When Estrada hears Conall sing, he’s reminded of a “six-hundred-year-old yellow cedar tree that had been split by lightning.” The bard’s voice makes him want to “curl into Conall’s yellow cedar soul and steam.” I feel that way listening to Peter Gabriel most days myself.
When I researched Celtic culture, I discovered that kings often compelled their bards to sleep with them. Conall is gay and in an unrequited love relationship with his best friend Ruairi, but was sexually abused by the former king and is wounded. Conall’s life changes surprisingly at the end of To Kill a King and I can’t wait to see how things unfold for him in Book Five. Lane Dorsey is a commercial photographer based in Toronto I used a model for Conall. You can see my visual inspiration for Ruairi and Conall on my pinterest board.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
Michael Stryker. He’s just such a badass. Michael manages a Goth nightclub in Vancouver and spikes the patrons’ drinks with Ecstasy. We first meet him in To Charm a Killer when he’s dancing with a witch being targeted by a serial killer. Michael believes he’s the reincarnation of Lord Byron and pretends to be a vampire. He swaggers around the club in a black silk cape, wearing fangs and red contacts. Michael and Estrada are lovers but also free-spirited hedonists. Michael’s days start late so I’d extend it until I pass out, then leave him with the hangover!
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?
Ana, the queen in To Kill a King was difficult because I couldn’t connect with her. The problem was, I was trying to think her up rather than feel her. I had decided she was blonde as fair-haired women were prized in Celtic myth. It wasn’t until Estrada’s ghostly lover, Michael Stryker, calls Ana, the Crow Queen, that I suddenly knew who she was. Not blonde. Dark. Dark and ruthless. Once I saw a vision of Ana with her black hair glittering with indigo crow feathers and her five stolen crow fledglings circling her head, I knew I had her.
And what is your writing Kryptonite?
Marketing! We all know we have to do it but it pulls me so far from my muses, I lose my mojo. Buy my books! Please! I need to be able to afford to pay someone to do all this marketing for me.
“Myth, magic, and mayhem” is your catch phrase. Explain.
I just recently changed my tagline from “edgy urban fantasy with a twist of murder” to “myth, magic, and mayhem” for several reasons. My settings aren’t always urban; most often they’re not. I dislike cities so stay as far away from urban centres as possible. To amplify that, my witches are propagating an eco-myth to save the planet and spend as much time as possible outdoors in nature. With regard to the “twist of murder”, although my first two books are murder mysteries, books three and four morphed into thrillers. While there’s a murder in To Render a Raven, we know quite quickly who the murderers are. Stopping them and saving Estrada’s baby is the goal. This is because of my writing process. Estrada is one of my muses so I follow his lead. What is consistent in all my books are mythic references, magical interventions, and mayhem. Hence the new tagline.
Tell us about your covers.
I call these the Tattoo Editions. Each cover features a tattoo from one of the characters. In the descriptions and on the back cover of the print editions, a quote from the text explains the tattoo. My cover designer, Yasaman Mohandesi, created and drew each tattoo by hand using the text I’d given her. We wanted something simple and striking. I love how they turned out!
Cover Blurb To Kill a King
“Her fingers flew to the fey butterfly tattooed on the back of her neck. Her friend, Yasaman, had designed it for her when she finished grad school. It was her symbol of freedom. Sorcha never wanted to be a professor bound to lecture halls—all she ever craved were the wild places and their stories. Now she was deep inside Ruairí’s story. Sometimes the butterfly brought her joy; other times, inspiration . . . but always a sense of hope. And she needed all three in this moment for her heart was breaking to see her man so broken.”
Sorcha just wanted to warn Ruairí of his fate until she saw him and fell in love. How could she leave him to be ritually murdered and cast in a bog to cure for two thousand years? Though he’s lost and grieving the loss of his lover, when Estrada realizes his fiery friend, Sorcha O’Hallorhan, is trapped in Iron Age Ireland, he demands that Cernunnos take him and Dylan back through time to rescue her. The Horned God obliges but states the rules: you cannot change history or develop bonds with anyone. How can Sorcha, the spirited archaeologist, survive this prehistoric warrior culture? Assuming she’s fey, Ruairí’s unscrupulous rival wants her power; but worse still, Ruairí’s lover, the wicked Crow Queen, wants her dead. Can Estrada use his Wiccan powers and magician’s skills to defeat these Iron Age Druids and bring his friends home without changing history? A spin-off of To Sleep with Stones, Book Four tells the story of archaeologist Sorcha O’Hallorhan’s deepest desire. Buy this romantic, time-traveling, prehistoric thriller today and find out what it takes To Kill a King.
And they are great covers! Thank you so much for dropping by today, it’s been a lot of ‘magical’ fun!!!
Readers, here’s a look at W.L.’s latest release: To Kill a King: A Hollystone Mystery: Book 4 (Hollystone Mysteries)
“Her fingers flew to the fey butterfly tattooed on the back of her neck. Her friend, Yasaman, had designed it for her when she finished grad school. It was her symbol of freedom. Sorcha never wanted to be a professor bound to lecture halls—all she ever craved were the wild places and their stories. Now she was deep inside Ruairí’s story. Sometimes the butterfly brought her joy; other times, inspiration . . . but always a sense of hope. And she needed all three in this moment for her heart was breaking to see her man so broken.”Sorcha just wanted to warn Ruairí of his fate until she saw him and fell in love. How could she leave him to be ritually murdered and cast in a bog to cure for two thousand years?Though he’s lost and grieving the loss of his lover, when Estrada realizes his fiery friend, Sorcha O’Hallorhan, is trapped in Iron Age Ireland, he demands that Cernunnos take him and Dylan back through time to rescue her. The Horned God obliges but states the rules: you cannot change history or develop bonds with anyone. How can Sorcha, the spirited archaeologist, survive this prehistoric warrior culture? Assuming she’s fey, Ruairí’s unscrupulous rival wants her power; but worse still, Ruairí’s lover, the wicked Crow Queen, wants her dead.Can Estrada use his Wiccan powers and magician’s skills to defeat these Iron Age Druids and bring his friends home without changing history?A spin-off of To Sleep with Stones, Book Four tells the story of archaeologist Sorcha O’Hallorhan’s deepest desire. Buy this romantic, time-traveling, prehistoric thriller today and find out what it takes To Kill a King.