Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interview With Houghton Mifflin Author Aaron Hawkins

Recently I had the great pleasure to read a book entitled The Year Money Grew on Trees,a superbly written story of a determined boy. Goaded into an agreement by his conniving neighbor Mrs. Nelson and trying to evade the summer job of doom lined up by his father, Jackson Jones works diligently to live up to the bargain of restoring a neglected apple orchard. Jackson enlists the help of his siblings and his cousins and spends a summer learning as he goes. Will he manage to grow a crop of apples worthy of selling? Will he be able to sell the apples once they are grown? Will he fulfill the bargain made with Mrs. Nelson and in return become the true heir of the orchard. The answers to these questions and many more await you in this wonderful book written by Aaron Hawkins.

Having finished this interesting and descriptive book, I became curious. What, I wondered, was the man behind the book like? On a whim I wrote Aaron to tell him how interesting I found his book, and during our correspondence he graciously agreed to be my first author interview. Not only do I hope you enjoy getting to know Aaron better, but I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of The Year Money Grew on Trees for yourself and your YA readers!

When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author? What made you want to choose this career path?

I had some great junior high and high school English teachers who convinced me that authors were the most significant thinkers on earth. That stuck with me, although somewhere along the way I learned that very few people survive writing books full time. Instead of a career, I consider writing an obsession.

Who are some of the authors that greatly influenced your writing style? What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

I’d feel unworthy to compare my writing style with anyone else’s, but the authors I have read the most are the standard American and British classics – Twain, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dickens.

How long did it take you to get your first book published? Were there ever moments when you became discouraged?

Four years, from the time I started writing until it appeared in print. I felt discouraged most of that time, except for a handful of breathtaking phone calls and email messages.

Assuming that you write for children or young adults, what made you decide to write for those age groups? Do you still feel connected to your "inner child"?

I started writing based on my own experiences and I guess I felt my childhood was more interesting than my adulthood. I definitely still feel connected to my inner child. I think we all like to think of ourselves as teenagers most of the time.

What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?

I don’t have many. Most free time is spent hanging out with my kids.

Do you have any advice for new authors who are just entering the field?

Finish writing something before you worry about getting it published. Naivety about the publishing process is a luxury you should take advantage of.

Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?

I’m a professor of electrical engineering, which involves teaching, research, and a lot of technical writing. My engineering background probably colors my writing, but I like to think it makes it kind of unique.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Tolstoy. I’d love to hear how he created such vast settings and characters in his books.

Do you have children of your own, and if so what do they think of your author status and book/books?

Yes, I have three children. They won’t be impressed by a book I wrote until it gets turned into a movie.

Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc.?

My author’s website is

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