Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California, where spring—and pollen!—is in the air. Today I have the honor of interviewing Mary Hamilton, who is venturing from kids’ adventure books to writing mystery-suspense, where her heart is.
Mary, please tell us about your book, Pendant.
Haunted by her student’s disappearance from a field trip, Elaine stumbles onto a vital clue and discovers someone is desperate to keep the truth buried. When a friend persuades her to hide amongst the quirky residents of a nursing home, she wonders if he’s keeping her from danger, or the truth?
Why did you write this book?
I love taking real-life dilemmas or situations and writing stories about their impact on the people involved. The story for Pendant had been tumbling around in my head ever since I saw a newspaper article about an elderly woman who showed up one day at a care facility with a jacket, purse, and cane. She was alert and pleasant, but refused to give any background information. The story caught my imagination and I kept asking myself, “What or whom is she hiding from? Is she completely alone? Isn’t anyone looking for her?” Eventually, I came up with my own answers, though I never learned the true ending of that woman’s story.
Intriguing! What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My first goal in writing is to entertain, so I hope readers will simply enjoy the story and the characters. They may also take away the importance of trusting God even when you don’t see answers to your prayers.
How has God used the message of your book in your own life?
While I was writing the book, a family member went through a very difficult health crisis. I clung to all the verses about God giving us what we ask for, but nothing seemed to be happening. It forced me to decide if I was only trusting Him for the things He could give and for answered prayers, or if I trusted Him completely, no matter the answer—or lack of it.
Don’t you love how God teaches you through your own stories? Happens to me every time! Mary, how do you share Christ in your writing?
My stories may not have an overt Christian message, because I want to appeal to non-believers as well as believers. But there will always be a Christian worldview, and usually some reference to faith. I may have one character struggling with some aspect of faith and another who demonstrates faith by example or who provides godly wisdom.
Why do you love writing?
I believe the love of writing is something God wove into me when He formed me in my mother’s womb. I’ve always enjoyed writing. I express myself better in writing than verbally. My best days are when I feel like I’ve accomplished something in writing or when I’ve had a breakthrough and finally understand how some pieces fit together. It’s exhilarating. For me, a good writing session is energizing.
Sometimes it’s too fun to call “work,” isn’t it? Why do you write mystery/suspense?
That’s a question my husband has been asking ever since he learned I have this dark side. Our dinner conversations sometimes revolve around murder methods and disposing of dead bodies. But I think I write mysteries to resolve my inner fears. I often catch myself thinking of the worst thing that could happen, and how would I handle that? How would my family find out if I were killed? How would they cope? By writing about awful things that happen to people, I work through my fears and develop a happy ending. Hopefully, that gives me a little confidence the next time fear threatens me.
I love that perspective! What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
I play a little piano, mainly for my own pleasure. I love to knit and usually make one afghan or a sweater each year. And I’ve discovered I really enjoy photography. I only have my phone camera, but that makes it more challenging to take quality photos that are interesting. I post a lot of them on Instagram as mlhamiltonauthor.
What do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?
Women’s fiction is probably my favorite genre, along the lines of Cynthia Ruchti [CAN member!] and Jan Karon. I also read mystery/suspense and an occasional non-fiction biography or memoir. Right now, I’m reading James R. Callan’s soon-to-be-released novel Political Dirty Tricks: A Crystal Moore Suspense, and I’m enjoying it immensely.
Tell us about your next project.
I’m currently working on a story where the wife of a shooting suspect and the lone survivor must overcome their differences and work together to uncover the motivation for the shooting and discover who later killed the suspect. Does that make any sense or are you as confused as I am?
Great concept! Have fun developing it!
Writing for Him,