“Meet the Author! Getting to Know Anne K. Hawkinson, Author of “The Ghost Writer”

The Ghost Writer

Anne K. Hawkinson
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN: 978-1732017559

Anne K. Hawkinson considers herself lucky because she was raised in a family that valued learning. By the time she entered kindergarten, she knew how to read, print, and write in cursive. Bedtime stories were a mainstay, and trips to the local library were as common as those to the grocery store. She couldn’t have known then, but they were instrumental in her becoming a writer.

On a snowy, Minnesota afternoon, she curled her eleven-year-old self next to the heat register and read Grimm’s Fairy Tales cover-to-cover, devouring the stories of castles, princesses, and the rescuing knights on horseback. Looking back, she believes that afternoon was a pivotal moment in her life. Those stories sparked her imagination, but they waited, poised and ready, until she was ready to call upon them for inspiration.

She’s ready now, writing historical fiction stories that she hopes will find their way into the hands of an eager reader, ready to embark on an adventure that she’s imagined, crafted, and tucked between the covers.

Hi Anne! Welcome to Reader Views! Tell us about your writing journey.

My earliest bit of writing was a short poem I wrote and (much to my surprise) was published in the early ‘80s. Almost ten years later, I was writing again, but they were college assignments. Still, within those confines, there was room for creativity. I liked the feeling and wanted to do more. I guess I’ve arrived late to “the party” because it was probably another ten years before writing became a serious pursuit.

I can’t say I’ve always wanted to be an author. I think a part of me believed it was out of reach, something other people did. Eventually, I was brave enough to try.

When I moved to a different state, there was a shift in my state of mind and creative awareness. I found and joined a writing association. I attended their annual conference and fell in love with the infectious enthusiasm and the workshops that helped me wrestle my thoughts to the page. I joined a writer’s group where each participant had the opportunity to read from their work-in-progress. That was it for me. That was my chance. So, I started writing.

What is The Ghost Writer about?

When Jenna Hickson’s best friend dies unexpectedly, she struggles to find a way forward without her. While sorting through Padma’s personal things, she discovers an unfinished story set in 14th century Scotland and vows to finish it in her memory. Jenna is not a writer and finds the process daunting, but she finds help in a way she never dreamt possible.

At the same time, she’s having vivid, chronological dreams set in the same time period as Padma’s story. When she travels to Scotland, the present-day clan chief captures her attention–and her heart.

Jenna’s visit to Scotland and Dunnottar Castle puts her on a path of healing, self-discovery, and loves new and remembered–one across the pond and one beyond the grave.

What was your inspiration behind the storyline?

I think it started out as a fascination with the concept of a ghostwriter–a person who writes material for someone else who is the named author. Then I took the word apart and wondered what it would be like for a ghost to be the writer. Padma is a ghost, helping Jenna finish the story Padma started before she died. Jenna is also a ghostwriter, since she is finishing the story for Padma, the original author. So, the end result is that Jenna is a ghostwriter being guided by a ghost–who is a ghost writer.

How did you develop your protagonist, Jenna Hickson? What motivates her?

Jenna had to be strong and determined with the first words I put on the page–I guess I didn’t give her much of a choice! But she rose to the challenge and focused on preserving the memory of her dearest friend by finishing the unearthed story in her honor. She muscled through her grief to honor Padma while internally she struggled to move on without her. Grief is a powerful, multi-faceted emotion, and I tried to show in Jenna’s character that you never get over losing a loved one. You find a way to move forward without them as you clutch those treasured memories close to your heart.

Jenna is a kind, generous woman who tries to see the good in people. She’s the type of person who finds happiness and fulfillment when she’s helping and bringing joy to others–that’s why her job as a travel consultant is such a good fit. She doesn’t shy away from a challenge (writing a book when she’s not a writer) and will do whatever it takes to see it through to a successful end.

What are the dynamics between Jenna and Sir Thomas deKeith?

Well, both of them have had challenges in the relationship department, so the idea of a long-distance one is daunting. Jenna has her life in NYC and Tom his ancestral home in Scotland. He’s also under pressure to produce an heir in order to continue the deKeith family line. It seems that the odds are stacked against them before their relationship has a chance to grow and flourish.

Jenna didn’t come to Scotland to find a husband (or love interest), and Tom is trying to evade the clutches of women whose top priority is his name and title. They’re both a bit wary of getting too involved in something that may not last. And yet, there seems to be something there.

Research trip for The Ghost Writer – a windy day at Edinburgh Castle

What kind of research was involved for this story?

First off, I had to establish a place for Jenna to live, so I built her a neighborhood after researching maps and locations in NYC. I’ve visited NYC, so I had a feel for the pace, climate, and setting of Jenna’s world.

Padma’s story necessitated the search for a 14th century location in Scotland that would be a good fit. As I searched the internet for just the right castle, an image that popped up made me gasp. When I saw it, I knew immediately that Dunnottar Castle would be the setting for Padma’s story. Then, I did more research on the history of the castle. Some of the characters in the story are actual 14th century residents (the deKeith family) which brings a feeling of authenticity to the story. Others, like Jenna and Padma, are characters of my own creation.

Jenna’s time traveling dreams? They were the perfect opportunity for me to let my imagination run wild!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I never thought I would start a story with someone dying. It seemed like such a tragic, depressing way to begin. But once I had the ghostwriter concept firmly in my mind, I knew Padma had to die so that she could take up her role as a ghostwriter for Jenna. In that role, Padma could still be an ongoing part of the story and not just a sad statistic.

What kind of reaction to your writing do you most seek from your reading audience?

First off, I’d like readers to be entertained. I write stories, works of fiction. Delving deeper, I hope readers come to identify on some level with the characters and the challenges they are facing. I hope they laugh and cry along with them and come away thinking perhaps they saw something in a character or situation they can relate to. Perhaps they’ll learn something about the setting, the time period, or how the characters conduct their lives. Finally, I hope when they read the last words, they wish there were more.

What kind of feedback have you received on The Ghost Writer?

Readers embraced the story and wonder how Jenna and Tom are doing. Are they still together? Will their long-distance relationship survive?

Many readers enjoyed the deKeith family and stepping back into the 14th century. The fact that Dunnottar Castle actually exists (you can visit!), and one can follow not only Tom and Jenna’s steps, but those of the deKeith family was a popular notion.

Readers also identified with the concept of grief and loss and how one copes and moves on after losing a loved one. The adventure and fantasy in the dreams helped lighten the mood and offset the sorrow and loss that everyone experiences at one time or another in their lives.

What does your writing routine look like?

I like to start by building the world of my story–it gives the characters somewhere to settle and begin their journey. I’ll probably do extensive research and jot down ideas and possible scenarios with pencil and paper. After that, I create several documents: a general plot timeline, a character outline that I can add to as I go along, and a short, chapter-by-chapter summary as writing begins.

I keep a rough word count in the summary document to help me determine where I am in the overall arc of the story, and I write scene-by-scene because that works for me. It helps me avoid the angst of word count goals I see other writers wrestle with; I do a word count after every chapter so that I can see where I am related to the overall recommendations of the genre’.

How have you grown as a writer since writing your first novel?

(Laughs). The Ghost Writer is actually the first full-length novel I’ve written! I co-authored four historical romance novellas and penned a middle-grade mystery before tackling The Ghost Writer.

I am learning to write what I love and let the story take me where it needs to go. The characters usually have quite a say in what happens. If I give them free rein (for the most part), they almost always get it right.

What do you like to read and which authors have inspired your own writing?

I enjoy the books authored by Susanna Kearsley. I like historical fiction, and she has unexpected twists and turns in her stories. One also gets the feeling that she’s done extensive research because her worlds are grounded and believable.

What do you like to do outside of writing?

I love spending time outdoors, gardening or enjoying a walk in the fresh air and sunshine. When the weather changes that plan, I might spend the afternoon crocheting while I watch a movie or favorite TV program.


The Ghost Writer won the gold medal for The Jack Eadon Memorial Award for the Best Book in Contemporary Drama and the silver medal in the historical fiction category in our 2022 Literary Awards program. What was your reaction when you heard the news?

I had to look twice at the announcements before they registered in my brain. Then I stared a bit longer to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me! It’s extremely gratifying and affirming for a writer to have their work recognized after the countless, solitary hours invested to bring a story to life. I am extremely humbled and grateful that The Ghost Writer was bestowed these honors. As Tom would probably say, “I’m gobsmacked.”

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m immersed in the world-building stage of my next historical fiction novel. It will be set in Minnesota and England and have an added, unexpected element of time travel. As I did with The Ghost Writer, I’ll post blogs (as the story unfolds) on my website with background information and interesting research bits that may/may not show up in the finished version of the story.

Is there anything else you’d like to add today?

If there are any writers out there (like me) who think they showed up too late to “the party,” please know that you didn’t. If you have a story to tell, there’s someone out there who wants to read it. Put something down on the page. Anything. And go from there.


Website: www.annehawkinson.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Anne.K.Hawkinson
Twitter: @annehawkinson
BookBub: @annehawkinson

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