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10 Questions for Arlem Hawks

10-Questions-for-Arlem-Hawks

A hopeless romantic with a passion for writing that comes to her genetically, Arlem Hawks turned her communications degree into a job as sports information director for Brigham Young University’s Athletics Department. But when Arlem and her family moved to Arizona, she proceeded to channel her love of creative writing and a considerable literary crush on Jane Austen into a new career as romance novelist.

Who is Arlem Hawks?

I’m a hopeless romantic who loves a good story, especially one set against a rich historic backdrop. I go deep into research and try to present stories that will both teach and enlighten. I love experiencing the things my characters do, wear, and eat. Most of my hobbies connect to research, and I love involving my family with what I’m learning and experiencing.

Tell us about your new book, Georgana’s Secret.

Georgana’s Secret follows Georgana Woodall, a girl whose father whisked her off to sea disguised as a cabin boy to escape a bad situation. But a new situation that should have been freeing ended up making Georgana feel as trapped as ever. Now she is wrestling with whether to continue hiding in the harsh conditions at sea or face the cruel life she suffered at home in an attempt to move forward with her life. When Lieutenant Dominic Peyton comes aboard and begins to earn her trust, she has to decide what she truly desires before the brutality of war makes the decision for her.

What are some of the intriguing historical details you discovered while researching shipboard life during the Regency era?

Many modern people see life at sea during the Regency era as a fate worse than death, but that isn’t how sailors at the time would have viewed it. Yes, life was harsh, but they had more food and better pay than most would have been able to find on land. The tight quarters were no worse than the crowded slums of London, and they didn’t have to deal with the fear of unsteady work. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t worse than death.

Sometimes the officers are portrayed as living like kings, but in most cases they were living well below the standard their peers on land would have enjoyed. As I researched the navy, I fell in love with this idea of Regency gentlemen who had to work hard—mentally and physically—for their living.

One thing I loved learning about in regards to the Royal Navy was the respect and trust the regular seamen and officers had to have for each other. Sailors, no matter the stereotype of being lazy and unintelligent, had to know a lot in order to perform their duties. Captains and lieutenants also had to know how to do each task on the ship. Both parties had to count on the other for survival, and each position was essential to the success and safety of the voyage.

What was your most unexpected challenge in writing Georgana’s Secret?

I think my biggest challenge was making sure I was being true to the history while also presenting the information in a way that people unfamiliar with sea life could understand. Much of my edits centered around making sure my characters’ thoughts and dialogue felt authentic while not sacrificing clarity for modern romance readers.

What do you know now as a published author that you wish you had known when you were first starting out writing?

Well, I first started writing novels as a kid, so my ideas of what that entailed have changed drastically since then. Getting published isn’t as simple as writing a book, sending it to a publisher, and signing a contract. There are so many different paths to take, whether self-publishing or traditional publishing, and no two authors’ journeys will look exactly alike. Some writers write slowly, some write quickly, and there isn’t a right way to do it. The important thing is to be true to your method and the stories you want to tell.

What is/are the book/books that got you hooked on the romance genre as a reader?

Interestingly enough, the books that got me into historical romance weren’t strictly romance. Growing up I loved to read the big historical fiction sagas, my favorite being N. C. Allen’s Faith of Our Fathers series. My favorite parts were the romance subplots, but I loved seeing them intertwined with intense historical details. Then I transferred to Sarah M. Eden’s and Josi S. Kilpack’s historical romances. It’s humbling to now be writing for the same publisher as those three amazing authors.

What do you do with your time when you are not putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)?

Most of my non-writing time is spent being a mom, but I also love to experiment with recipes (especially historical recipes), sew (mostly Regency dresses or masks these days), watercolor, and travel. Learning about other cultures and time periods is fascinating to me, and I love teaching my children to appreciate history and cultures different from our own.

You are hosting a dinner party and can invite any three authors (alive or dead) you would like as guests. Whom would you invite, why them, and equally important, what are you serving for dinner?

Ooh, this is a tough one. If I hosted a dinner party, I think I’d invite Jane Austen, Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick O’Brian. I have so much respect for each of those authors and their ability to craft stories. Their attention to detail, vivid characters, and intricate plots are things I aspire to in my own writing. I think I’d make sukiyaki, which, for those who don’t know, is a Japanese dish a little bit like stir-fry. It was my family’s dinner for special occasions growing up, brought back from when my dad lived in Japan. And for dessert, we’d go with a steamed chocolate pudding and crème anglaise.

What is next for you as an author?

I just finished initial work on a French Revolution story involving one of the side characters from Georgana’s Secret. I have several more Regency and French Revolution stories partially outlined, most of them with ties to the Royal Navy, and I’ll hopefully be picking one to start drafting in February.

How can readers best connect with you and learn more about your books?

I’m most active on Instagram @arlemhawks, where I share historical detail videos and tidbits from my research (including the food research). You can also find me on Facebook and can subscribe to my monthly newsletter on arlemhawks.com.

About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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