Author J B Hawker delights her readers from the perspective of a small town parsonage.
Today, I’m so pleased to welcome J B Hawker to my website. She’s a woman of a certain age (like many of us) who still looks forward to the amazing adventures ahead.
As a pastor’s wife for more than twenty-five years, she writes about what she knows. She covers the unique, often humorous workings of the small town congregation as viewed from the parsonage.
J B Hawker has published many articles on faith and ministry. Hollow, the first book in the Bunny Elder series and winner of the BRAG Medallion Award, was her first published fiction.
She was thrilled when the second book in this series, Vain Pursuits, was also honored by indieBRAG.com with the BRAG Medallion. So many readers wanted more of Bunny after the end of her four book series.
As a result, J B has given her cameo appearances in the new series and is currently outlining another series of adventures for Bunny to star in, as well.
She has published seven novels to date, two collections of short stories, and one book of weekly inspirational readings. Also, she’s an accomplished conference speaker and Bible study leader.
Recently retired from the field of education, she is now able to devote herself full-time to her writing.
After many years serving in small town pastorates all over the Western United States, J B returned to her roots and now lives in Northern California. She has three grown sons. The oldest, the father of her three precious granddaughters, resides in Italy. She visits them as often as possible.
J B, as the church organist starting when I was nine years old, one of my favorite memories is all the potlucks we had in the church basement. Have you used this form of gathering in any of your novels?
Bunny attends a fellowship meal following a worship service in Hollow when her late husband’s congregation welcomes their new pastor, but most of the action in the books takes place outside the church. Her best friend is the church organist, though.
(I love that!)
You had three books in your First Ladies Club Series: The First Ladies Club, A Body in the Belfry, and A Corpse in the Chapel. How did you ever explain to your pastor husband that you intended to write mysteries using the congregational setting as a background?
Unfortunately, my marriage ended before I began writing fiction. While married, I wrote programming materials and other non-fiction, but never even thought about fiction.
When I decided to publish fiction, I chose to write under my maiden name. I did this because I didn’t want members of my ex-husband’s congregation confusing my fictional characters or experiences with our real lives.
While life in the parsonage is a precious blessing, relationships with members of the church family can be complicated. That said, my ex-husband supports my writing.
Mom used to tell me there were a lot of skeletons buried under the basement of our church. Which of your protagonists in this series did you bond with most closely?
Naidenne (The First Ladies Club) touched me on many levels. Although she’s tall and thin, while I am most definitely not. She experiences some of the same challenges most new pastor’s wives face, and she does so with such a sweet spirit. I introduced Naidenne in the previous Bunny Elder series in Seadrift, where she meets and falls in love. I think getting to know her before she inhabits the parsonage enriches her character in First Ladies.
Tell us about your Weekly Inspirational Readings. Are they appropriate for any Christian faith?
Yes, I think so. I wrote “The Weekly Inspirational Readings” with women’s ministry leaders in mind. I’d just come off a three-year term as a national leader in my denomination’s women’s ministry. The principals, however, apply equally well to any Christian group.
Has J B Hawker written any other books under the name Jonna Hawker Turek?
Only the weekly devotional book, so far. However, I’m working on a daily devotional and another resource for women’s ministry.
If you could visit the Holy Land with any one of your characters, which character (and the book they were in) would you travel with and why?
I would take Pastor Merri (A Body in the Belfry) to Jerusalem, perhaps along with a group from her church. As a pastor, she would appreciate the experience and could bring the locations to life for me and it would also enrich her ministry. One of my daughters-in-law is a pastor and I would love to walk with her where Jesus walked.
I’ve dreamed of walking the streets of Jerusalem and beside the Sea of Galilee. Have you ever been blessed to really visit the Holy Land? If so, what touched you most deeply?
My pastor-husband lived and studied in Jerusalem and shared many of his experiences with me. I was never able to make the trip in person. Budget constraints and raising my sons kept me close to home. I may never see the present Holy City, but I am confident there is a place for me in the New Jerusalem. Frequently, I’ve sung “The Holy City” at Easter worship services and it never fails to give me chills of anticipation.
J B Hawker wrote the first book in the Bunny Elder Adventures series called, Hollow. The book is about a widowed pastor’s wife who is plagued by dead bodies which show up in Halloween Decorations all over town. What inspired the Bunny Elder character?
I wrote this book after my marriage ended. At the time, I was beginning a new chapter in my life, like Bunny. I used this story to exorcise a few demons and express some of my own insecurities. The idea of the serial-killer and the Halloween displays came from my youngest son as we were walking around our neighborhood one October.
There are four books in the Bunny Elder series. Which was the most fun to write, and why?
Hollow, being the first, was the most exciting. I used names and locations from my own past to populate the story, too, so that was fun. People who know me always ask if Bunny is me, but I assure them she’s not. (Well, not really!) This first book is the darkest of all my writing and let me test my limits a bit.
Vain Pursuits, the second book in the Bunny Elder series, a B.R.A.G. Medallion award winner, finds Bunny flying off to romantic Italy as traveling companion to her newly widowed sister, Dolly Parton look-alike, Linda. She never suspects this trip to add a special Neapolitan nativity set to her sister’s collection will include smugglers, Italian mobsters, kidnapping, and death. What locations did you use in the book and have you visited them yourself?
My oldest son has lived in Italy for more than two decades and my only grandchildren are there, so I’ve been blessed to visit every few years. The northern Italy locations of Venice and Verona are most familiar to me, but I included Bologna, Rome and Naples.
As a pastor’s wife, what was your favorite “kick off your high heels and have a great time” activity?
Anytime I could get away into nature: taking the kids to the beach, a picnic in the park, even working in the garden, always rejuvenate me and recharge my batteries.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your writings?
I write from a Christian perspective, always, but not all my characters are believers and the believers aren’t infallible.
It’s my intention to write about true-to-life Christians whom my readers can relate to and be inspired by to grow ever closer to the Lord. Some of the “bad guys” are truly evil and I use a few mild or euphemistic expletives in their dialogue where necessary to illustrate their coarser lives, but good always triumphs in a happy ending.
I’ve stepped outside the parsonage to write the first book in my new series about an octogenarian retired school teacher, Matilda Thistlethwaite. Mrs. T is a Christian, of course. I introduced her character in A Corpse in the Chapel, expanded on her earlier life in the Cozy Campfire Shorts stories, and included her in my Christmas short story collection, as well, along with her recipe for quick and easy cinnamon rolls. I’m falling in love with her and I hope my readers will be just as enchanted when I publish the book this Spring.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Peggy.