Interview with George Hawkins

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Albany, New York, a city famous or infamous for the Irish/Democratic machine that controlled all facets of city, county and to a degree state politics. I mention this because my father, a detective on the city police force was a rank and file member of the democratic machine. This not inherently a criticism, merely a fact of life back in the 40's and 50's. My latest book, The Irish Goodbye, deals with a youngster growing up in an Irish catholic family, his coming of age, his initial dealings with death, sex, disillusionment and acceptance. Nearing teenhood, my protagonist, Brian Reilly, becomes in contact with a Russian emigre, a survivor of the Battle of Berlin, who introduces Brian and his best friend to the exotic world of tumbler pigeons. As their friendship with Johnny Russian develops, the boys quickly realize this crippled war veteran is not an ogre, but an intelligent, gentle human being.
When did you first start writing?
Never forget that. It was in my first year of college, about 1961. In English 101 we got to read some short stories, along with the usual rhetoric. Anyway, my favorite short story from that time, to this day, is "For Esme with Love and Squalor," by J.D. Salinger. It influenced me so much I went home and wrote a short story and never stopped.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind The Irish Goodbye, goes back to growing up in Albany, New York, a city controlled, probably to this day by the Irish-Democratic machine. Born into an Irish Catholic family I was educated in a Catholic school with never any idea of what public school education was about. My father was a detective on the city police force so he voted the democratic ticket. My protagonist, Brian Reilly, comes of age during the 50's with this backdrop of catholicism, the Irish democratic party. As he matures,Brian and best friend, Bobby McNally develop a passion for the exotic tumbler pigeons their nemesis, Johnny Russian, trains and breeds. A survivor of WW II, Johnny is horribly disfigured, but has a gentle touch with all things living, especially his tumbler pigeons and flower and vegetable gardens he tends. After a life threatening accident, Brian realizes Johnny Russian is more hero than villain. During his passage to teen hood, Brian confronts the enigmas of death, life, and sex.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A great opportunity to get exposure. I was amazed at the jump in book sales of my bike book, A Bicycle Journey to the Bottom of the Americas, when it was converted to an ebook.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting into the creative. groove. It's like tuning in to your own radio frequency or wave length. It's groovy, man. I guess like a musician grooves into his own sound.
What do your fans mean to you?
I don't know. If I have a fan base, I'm just not in touch with it.
What are you working on next?
Currently, I'm copy editing a novel, titled Gandy Dancers. It's about a young guy, my protagonist getting expelled from high school and working on the railroad in the Nevada desert. Also, getting together a collection of short stories set in Santa Cruz, Ca.
Who are your favorite authors?
Top of the list is George Eliot, particularly Adam Bede. Notable also are -Tolstoy, Stegner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, numerous Victorian authors, like Hardy, Fielding, Lawrence. A favorite book, a detective novel at that is titled, The Death of the Detective by Mark Smith. Been out of print for years, but used copies can be had on eBay. One fan called it the War and Peace of detective novels. Another favorite author is William Styron, particularly Sophie's Choice and The Confessions of Nat Turner. The list goes on and on.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Living in the California coastal city of Santa Cruz, I wake up, usually to the sun and surf. After my ration of Peet's Garuda coffee, I kick start the writing process with morning pages, a daily journal, then I get with a current project. After a morning of writing I go to the gym or take a hike or go for an ocean swim. What a life, huh?
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes,it was just after reading J.D. Salinger's, For Esme with Love and Squalor. I was so overwhelmed by that short story, I sat down at my basement apartment table and wrote a story about the street sounds, noises, children's voices coming through my street level window.
What do you read for pleasure?
A diverse bag that. Detective stories, classics. I've read and reread War and Peace several times, enjoying each read more and more. Two scenes that stick in my memory are the wolf hunting scene and the winter scene when all the gentry and servants get dressed up in costumes for a winter sleigh ride to a distant neighbor for a party. I am not a fan of science fiction or novels about vampires.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle paperwhite. I carry it everywhere with me, especially on campouts.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm not much of a salesmen or marketer. I figure my job is to write and that's where I put my energy and time.
Published 2014-05-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Military Madness Volume Two
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 21,550. Language: English. Published: April 14, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action, Fiction » Literary collections » American / General
Short stories written during the 1980's in northern California, while I was living in an agriculture commune.
Santa Cruz Stories
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 24,930. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » Medieval
An eclectic cast of characters leap from the pages of this short story collection set in the infamous surfing community of Santa Cruz, California.
The Irish Goodbye
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,920. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Coming of age
This bittersweet coming-of-age tale harkens back to the mean streets of Albany, New York. The protagonist, Brian Reilly, maturing from childhood to adolescence, passes through a tumultuous period of disillusionment, betrayal, and finally redemption. His beliefs and trust are reaffirmed by a crippled outcast who saves his life and teaches him to look below the surface of things.