This Writer Wednesday, the spotlight shines on author and podcast host Stacy Hawks!
This fellow southern storyteller is full of writing insight and quotes as rich as mountain molasses. She has a cat named Zelda Fitzgerald and like many of us writers, she often pens notes, or even a book chapter, on her phone. Thank goodness for technology!
Stacy is the author of two historical fiction works Dividing Ridge, and her most recent novel, Devils Ridge. She is the host of The Writing Wall podcast, which spotlights indie authors and poets.
A quick note:
During this interview, you might note that many of the questions include the word “we” as if “we” asked them. Well, we did. This detail is meant to include you, my dear reader, and I do hope you enjoy each interview published to this blog!
Additionally, please note that each interview answer is the author's own words and the interviews in The Intuitive Storyteller blog are intended for informational and educational purposes only.
Stacy Hawks is a resident of Alleghany County, North Carolina, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is a graduate of Wilkes Community College with an A.A. in History, holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Brevard College, and an MEd. from Liberty University. In 2022, her debut novel Dividing Ridge: the Unsolved Murder of Elva Brannock won the North Carolina Society of Historians Award for Excellence and became the first North Carolina Literary Map novel in her county. While attending Brevard College, Stacy focused on the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as its impact on her local community and surrounding Appalachia. Her passions include photography, poetry, and reading presidential biographies. Among her debut novel Dividing Ridge, she has also published three poetry collections, and a second novel titled Devils Ridge, each available on Amazon. In 2019, Stacy was featured as an Author in Residence for Appalachian Memory Keepers. Stacy’s stories highlight the history of events, places, and people of the rural mountain community she is proud to call home.
About Devils Ridge
“We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.” ~ H.L. Mencken. Dark corners, hidden stills, and fast cars linger in the shadow of Devils Ridge. While God rules rural Appalachia, it is soon Man’s Law that is challenged when notorious rum runner Connor Ridge takes on a local deputy who may outpace the moonshiner’s illicit enterprise. With the help of the new Editor in chief, deputy Walter Irwin works to bring Ridge and his gang to justice. Can Irwin stop the shadows of Devils Ridge from swallowing his town whole? Or will they over the law, once and for all?
Stacy’s book Devils Ridge is available now!
And now, the interview:
Stacy, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed reading and the way that it can transport you places or explore a topic that you may have otherwise never known anything about only to learn you are truly interested in that subject. A love of reading and words came early thanks to my parents. I believe it was just a matter of time before I realized I would be writing regardless [of whether] I was published or not. During elementary school I started to find stories and books that really impacted me, and my writing really took off in middle school when I was introduced to poetry. The way it flowed and allowed for emotional, or self-expression, I admired that. We are also great storytellers and keepers of family history in the South. Growing up hearing my grandmother and grandfather talk about their childhoods, their parents, their grandparents, that too, I believe, had a lot to do with me wanting to write. Preserving stories is important; I realized that at an early age.
We are also great storytellers and keepers of family history in the South.
Tell us about the person(s) or event(s) that inspired you to write your latest work.
This story is actually based loosely on a true story of an individual in my county who ran a multi-county moonshine operation in the 1930s. Parts of the book are true, other parts are not. This book was nothing like Dividing Ridge; it was very fictionalized, and I enjoyed keeping the same characters as Dividing Ridge but adding some adventure to their lives. I wrote this story shortly after Dividing Ridge while my mind was fresh with that story and believed it would make a great prequel to that novel if I was ever able to publish it. Dividing Ridge sat on my hard drive for almost a decade before I decided to make the move to self-publish. Great stories reach out and speak to the people they want to tell them, and I was lucky enough to have both of these jump out at me.
Great stories reach out and speak to the people they want to tell them, and I was lucky enough to have both of these jump out at me.
What is your favorite genre to write and why do these types of stories appeal to you?
Historical fiction with a little true crime thrown in are my favorite genres to write. For the historical fiction lover in me, I believe these types of stories are appealing because there are still so many mysterious historical events, individuals, and societies yet to explore. Adding the element of crime to any historical fiction piece can in itself be a mystery and it also inspires me to learn more about various time periods, people, and places.
Do you have a furry familiar? Tell us about them!
Yes. Her name is Zelda (after Zelda Fitzgerald). She was a birthday gift from my brother back in July 2021. I had lost my cat of 10 years prior to that in 2020, so this was an extra special gift, and she has her fur-ever home. She loves gazing out the French doors or windows in the house while I write or read.
Tell us about your writing schedule and/or a ritual that is necessary for establishing and sustaining your writing mood and endurance.
Because I have lower back issues, it is hard to be on a writing schedule, but I set goals for myself like I plan to hit 1,000 words by the end of the day, or I want to get that chapter edited before the end of the week. Because of the back issues, I often write or type out sketches or a chapter here and there from my phone and later have it transferred over to a Word document. However, if I am writing, I need a quiet, uninterrupted space, and sometimes light classical music to get started. I think endurance has to do with the topic. If you’re interested in the story you're telling, even you as a writer can get lost just writing it, not wanting to stop until it’s finished. I had those moments with both Dividing Ridge and Devils Ridge years ago. Those moments are definitely the best moments for any writer.
Why do you write? How does the act of storytelling affect you?
For me, writing is about sharing my local history, places, and people who helped shape our community with others. Stories can affect people and sometimes we may not even realize just how much we are affected by them until after we close that book or turn off the audiobook. Devils Ridge affected me differently than Dividing Ridge. Devils Ridge was much more free-flowing and there was not a lot of research I had to do having already dived into it for Dividing Ridge. The story made me sad, but also made me sort of cheer for both my main character and anti-hero for the first time. Dividing Ridge affected me emotionally and there were a lot of scenes that were difficult to write, some took days whereas Devils Ridge made me curious, sharpened my plotting capabilities, and also got me excited about writing historical fiction.
Think about yourself back when you first started writing. If you could travel back in time, what would you say to that version of you (about the writing process, publishing, the world, etc.) that might help prepare them for today?
I would say have fun with what you’re writing, and do not let anyone tell you that you’re not a writer. When you are brave enough to sit at a keyboard and create a 200- or 300-page story to publish and share with others, you’re definitely a writer.
What are your recommendations for fueling your writing energy and promoting inspiration?
I am a firm believer in writers doing things they enjoy. The simple act of listening to music, being with family, taking a walk outdoors, or just cruising the streets, can often inspire a scene or moment that we can later go back and add to a WIP [work in progress]. Reading can also inspire and fuel your creativity, so do not discount the power of another author’s great work.
How intuitive are you and does your intuition affect your writing?
Somewhat. It depends on the situation or topic. I am not sure that it affects my writing but probably does my characters in that I let them get those gut feelings like they know something is wrong or about to happen, and sometimes they get those even before I do in the story [laughs].
Tell us about your long-term writing and publishing goals.
Dividing Ridge Books is looking at having both Dividing Ridge and Devils Ridge available in audiobook this year. We want everyone to be able to enjoy these great stories and hear them told from wonderful narrators. A friend is also assisting me with my fourth poetry collection, and I hope to have it available in late April 2022, it’s titled Center Stage.
For what or whom are you most grateful right now and why?
I think I will also be grateful to my grandmother for keeping and making that scrap book where I first saw the story of Elva Brannock. Without it, Dividing Ridge would not have been possible, nor would Devils Ridge. Her love of her family, our history and heritage, is and was truly an inspiration. I am also grateful for my parents and a wonderful younger brother who support me in my writing. They enjoy reading my books and have always encouraged my love of reading and storytelling, too. My local writing community friends like Tim Anders, Eldon Joines, Stephanie Ray, Elaine Moretz, and others have also been a huge support and I am truly grateful for their friendship, interest, and writerly advice.
Besides writing, what activities bring you joy?
Photography, reading, listening to music, being with family and other writing community friends here locally are all activities that bring me joy. A good historical documentary or series is always fun, too. Right now, my favorite historical fiction series, which is also a Western, is 1883 the prequel to Yellowstone.
Which book are you reading right now?
Deadly Declarations, by Landis Wade
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Blood in the Low Country, by Paul Attaway (but there are many others; hard to pick just one)
Fill in the blank: Magic is...
Magic is desire made real. (Discovery of Witches, [laughs]. Magic is when we do something extraordinary that we never thought possible.
Stay connected with Stacy! Here’s where you can find her:
Next up, I'm continuing my Tarot Stories series with the Wheel of Fortune.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative or on Facebook at @haintbluebooks.