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Interview: Mavis Duke Hinton

When did you decide you wanted to write?

As far back as I can remember, I enjoyed writing, at age ten even producing a little “newspaper” called The Daily Blab for the amusement of my friends.  Of course, I had to do everything by hand then, complete with pictures and articles—even advertisements!  In high school, I went through my short story and poetry phase.  I wrote articles for the campus paper in college as well.  In my teaching career, I’ve taught all levels of middle and high school English, along with AP British literature, creative writing, speech, and journalism.  While doing so full time, I never had the time to write except in job-related pieces, with my family responsibilities and the heavy load of grading research reports and essays.

My late father used to tell us what our dachshunds were thinking, and I believe I have inherited that ‘gene’ for doing so.  All of this is tongue in cheek, of course—and it makes for many a laugh around our house. My family encouraged me to use my “talent” to write a book, so I just walked away from my full-time career and started writing.  Voila—I have become a writer.

 How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?

I have written two books in THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, both published by OakTara:  I AM SARGE, Book 1, and I AM DACHSHUND, Book 2.  I am nearly finished with Book 3, DACHSHUNDS FOREVER.

 How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?

I create a rudimentary outline for the plot, brief chapter summaries, and basic character sketches.  Once I begin to write, ideas just pop into my head, and I often just “go along for the ride” to see what my characters are going to say or do.  I’ve found that personal experiences, circumstances, happenings, and people I’ve met are easily incorporated into the plot I’m working on. At this point in my career, I write about people I know and places I’ve either lived or visited.  Growing up in a military family, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling, having lived overseas and a number of U.S. states.  And I’m a keen observer as well.

What genre do you usually write?

I write inspirational fiction—I like to write something that is both enjoyable and uplifting for readers.

 What made you choose that genre?

As a Christian, it just seemed natural for me to write stories that encourage. And as a dog lover as well, it is just so much fun to write from the dog’s viewpoint!  Papa Duke, one of the characters in THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, so aptly states my feelings about dogs:
“A dawg loves you no matter what. You can be ugly, old, even dumb–but a dawg don’t care. All he wants is your love and some food now and then. I think dawgs represent the unconditional love God has for us—maybe that’s why He created them, to show that to us.”

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

I AM SARGE is Book 1 of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, so if you are a dog lover in general, and a dachshund lover in particular, then this is the book for you!  Written from the viewpoint of man’s best friend, Sarge will delight dog lovers of all ages.  And, if you’ve ever wondered what your dog is really thinking, then you’ll enjoy Sarge, a lovable black-and-tan miniature dachshund, who sees and comments on everything he experiences with humor and a touch of doggie insight, often with hilarious results.  Above all, God’s unconditional and enduring love is the golden thread woven into the tapestry of I AM SARGE, a captivating and lighthearted tale.  Although classified as fiction, Sarge’s tales are 95% true.  For example, Papa Duke passed away long before Sarge even came on the scene, but those two are truly a “mutual admiration society” since my father loved dogs and they loved him.

The summary on the back cover of this book states: 

 Sometimes a dachshund’s “lowdown from the ground”

perspective is just what human beings need. 

“I was only eight weeks old when I was adopted into my new human family who knew immediately I was a super dog. They proudly gave me the name Sarge—after my Papa Duke, who was a sergeant in the Army. Quite a fitting name for a good-looking dachshund too, I might add. I just know someday I’ll do great and mighty things, befitting a super dog.

 “But in the meanwhile, I’ll just steal your heart and make you laugh out loud with the antics of this “chow hound.” And maybe, if you come over, Papa and I—two food lovers—might just share a snack or two with you, too.”

Fall in love with Sarge, the quintessential dachshund,

and laugh along with his foibles and humorous escapades.

 I AM DACHSHUND, Book 2, continues Sarge’s tale, and our own doxie, Duke, is introduced in this book. 

What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?

Write about what you know as you work on your writing craft.  Your life experiences can color and enrich your writing, so examine your life and incorporate anything you can, even a small incident that can be added to your story.  For example, I’ve used my late father’s humorous stories in my books.  They are, after all, funny and entertaining, so why shouldn’t others get to enjoy them as well?  His stories about his zany experiences are true, by the way!

Do you have any favorite inspirational quotes?

A couple of meaningful Scriptures that come to mind are Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast,” and Romans 8:28:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Did your parents encourage your love for reading and/or writing? If not, where did encouragement come from?

My mother often read to me when I was a small child, and as I grew older, that instilled in me the desire to read for myself.  I’ve been known to stay up all night when I couldn’t put down a book!  In fact, when I’m reading or writing, I have the ability to block out everything else.  My family jokes that the house can be burning down around me and I won’t realize it until someone comes to rescue me!   Hmmm . . . maybe that ability is a life-threatening trait to have . . . 

What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have any hobbies?

I’ve been teaching English online since 2008 with Sycamore Online Academy in California, and I live in North Carolina—such is technology.  Since online teaching affords me the opportunity to set my own hours—anytime, day or night—I am able to fit in time to write.   As for hobbies, I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, traveling, spending time with my family (we have two married daughters and three grandchildren), and laughing.  Yes—laughing.  I like to encourage others and make them smile.  I’ve found that a sense of humor has gotten me through a lot of things!

Why do you write?

It took me awhile to get that down, because I had “wanted to write” for decades, but I had never really thought it through as to why I wanted to write.  Once I did some self-evaluation, my writing became easier.  I want to write to glorify the Lord, first of all, using Philippians 4:8 as my guideline.  And along with that, I also write to encourage readers and for self-fulfillment—plus, the income stream that comes along as an additional benefit is fine as well! Since my characters in this series of books are based upon my family, I’ve also written the books so that my little grandchildren have a legacy regarding their family members that they never had the privilege of knowing.

 Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

When I taught English in the traditional classroom, I had my students write their own skits based on literature—complete with costume and props—and I videotaped those skits as well!  (That probably stems from the frustrated actress in me).  Based on factual literary and historical information, they could choose to act out a piece of literature or use a talk show format where the student “host” would interview literary characters and authors.  Students loved seeing their productions on the screen, and it was a great tool for learning reinforcement.  I still have those tapes, by the way, if any former students out there are reading this! 

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To read more about Mavis, see her website at  www.MavisDukeHinton.com and check out her blog at  www.blog.MavisDukeHinton.com.






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This entry was posted on August 6, 2012 by in Author Interviews and tagged , .

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