Dear friends ~
Kirkus is revamping their site in the near future and they’ve decided to end their blogs, so this will be my last post here.
I’m so excited that my last piece will be an interview with a favorite author who wrote a perfectly magical book that I’ve been anticipating since she first mentioned it on her facebook page—THE BOOK CHARMER.
I absolutely adore books with magical elements, and when Karen Hawkins mentioned she’d be doing one, especially one about a woman who has a magical relationship with books, I couldn’t wait.
It was even more enchanting than I expected.
THE BOOK CHARMER mostly revolves around Dove Pond, North Carolina, a town that’s seen better days, and two women: Sarah Dove, the town librarian whose magical family founded the town in the 1700s and who feels it’s her destiny to save it from the sad turn it’s taken; and Grace, the lifelong fighter and survivor who’s taken in her dead sister’s daughter and is trying to take care of her beloved foster mother, Mama G., who is suffering from dementia. She’s brought them all back to Dove Pond, Mama G.’s hometown, where Grace has taken the town clerk position in hopes the town she loves will help them as they navigate her disease.
Sarah and Grace become friends; work together to save the town; try to bring Sarah’s best friend and Grace’s neighbor Travis out of his funk after losing his father and while still battling his own war wounds and PTSD. There is so much to dig into in this book, and the magic gives it a special little icing. Until now, Hawkins has mostly written historical romance, but at least two of her series had magical elements in them. So I was curious as to what she’s so attracted to regarding those elements (especially since I love them too!). I wanted to find out more about the author’s choices and what inspired her to write this book, which she refers to in the acknowledgements as the book of her heart.
“Personally,” Hawkins said as we discussed our attraction to magical elements in books, “I like to think there’s a special kind of magic in everyday life. Love in general is magic. The initial attraction you feel when you meet someone new, as well as the energy that exists between you and your partner when your eyes meet across the room and you know you’re thinking the same thing in a given moment. Those things are magical. Forging new relationships. Meeting people for the first time and feeling a spark of recognition, a kindred spirit. That’s magic. Connections and friendship and love are the true magical elements in real life. But since I’m a writer, I also get to explore the not-so-real magic, too, and than can be very, very fun.”
I asked her why she thought it was so interesting, and what made it so fun.
“I think a part of us always wants to be able to control everything in our lives, and we think that if we had magic, we could do that. We think that the beauty of magic is that if we had it, we’d be able to control all the things we can’t. Of course the reality is, even when you’re dealing with completely unrealistic things like magic, we still can’t control things. And not being able to control things with magic makes the chaos a bit more interesting.”
THE BOOK CHARMER is Hawkins’ first mainstream fiction single title release. There are two subtle romances in the story, but the majority of the plot deals with Sarah and Grace trying to save the town, while they also navigate family—blood ties and ties of the heart—friends, and a small Southern town that’s sort of lost it’s way.
Hawkins has woven in other interesting, intriguing elements: the town’s history is tied to the Dove family, and historical details and family lore twine together in ways that make it clear that Sarah is destined to help save the town. But how?
She and all six of her sisters manifest individual magical gifts, and Sarah’s is the ability to talk to books. But the communication goes both ways, and the books tell her who’s supposed to read them. So even in the realm of magical elements, there’s the added message of the real-life magical quality of books. That books can be there for you when you need hope, or information, or new ways to solve problems.
The book is completely entertaining, but it also deals with difficult topics: aging, dementia, mother-daughter relationships, friendship, being there when you’re needed, and letting people help you even when it makes you feel vulnerable.
I asked Hawkins why it was the book of her heart, and her answer was rather magical itself. “I feel like everything I’ve written up to this moment has led me to this title. As we’ve discussed, I love exploring magic through storytelling, but this book gave me the opportunity to also explore other things I love. All those things that make real-life magical—friendship, romance and love of all kinds; mothers, daughters, sisters, neighbors; the power of a tight, small-town committed to the well-being of its community. I even added a touch of history, which I love. And of course the wonder, power and magic of books. I just love my town Dove Pond and the Dove family. It’s been so fun to write, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to dive even further into it. These are stressful times, and I wanted to provide myself and my readers a little sliver of hope, an opportunity to escape to a place where magic happens and things turn out just the way their supposed to, in gratifying ways. I’ve enjoyed writing them, and I sincerely hope readers love it as much as I do.”
I can only speak for myself, but I do.
(I also loved the companion Dove Pond novella, Love In The Afternoon.)
Since this is my last post, I wanted to say thank you for following me here. I hope you’ll continue to interact with me on my Facebook page, The Romance of Reading, where we have author chats and visits every week. In August, I’ll be hosting the 7th Read-A-Romance Month, with essays, QandAs, recommendations and giveaways on the site, plus daily author visits on the Romance of Reading FB page. This year the theme is The Romance of Reading, The Magic of Books, and Karen Hawkins will be kicking it off August 1st. The site is a bit tardy this year for a variety of reasons (for instance, I’m currently in Alaska where we interred my mom’s ashes this week), so the best place to start is on the FB page.
It’s been lovely visiting with you here. I hope to catch up with you again on the web.
Until then, #HappyReading and blessings on your journey….