Mary, welcome to Writers on Reading! Your Rustic Knoll Bible Camp books look like a hoot. But they don’t narrow down your reading habits for me. So…what kind of books do you read around a campfire? Dark, shivery mysteries to make you want to add another log to the fire? Something full of fish stories to make you laugh? Or something else entirely? When browsing for a new book, what elements do you most often seek?
I like to mix things up so I vary the genres I read from one book to the next. I’ll read a suspense thriller, then go to one that deals with women’s relationships, then an adventure novel. When I’m looking for a new book, I usually look for authors I’m familiar with, and my favorite authors generally write about relationships, often with a little humor thrown in. I love a book that can make me laugh and cry.
Sounds like your reading life never gets stale. Do you find time to read during the months you spend writing a book? If so, what did you read while working on your last book?
I try not to read fiction while writing my own books so it doesn’t influence my story. But I often use that time to read non-fiction. I enjoy an occasional book about history or a memoir or most often, a spiritual growth book. The last book I read was Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis. It was quite thought-provoking and forced me to look at my own faith in new ways.
What was the last book you absolutely couldn't put down? Why?
Lisa Wingate’s The Tidewater Sisters: Postlude to The Prayer Box was very hard forme to put down. It continues the story of Tandi Reese and her manipulative sister, Gina from The Prayer Box. I don’t want to give anything away but near the end, I wanted to stand up and cheer for Tandi. I loved that story.
Are you—ahem, were you—the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading? (And do you still have a copy?)
As a kid, I loved reading so much, I’d set up cereal boxes all around me at the breakfast table and read every single word on every box while munching away on my bowl of cereal! I can’t remember the first novel I ever read, but I was a big fan of Nancy Drew. My parents taught us to use the library for most of our reading, so sad to say, I don’t have any of those Nancy Drew books. But I do have an old copy of The Mystery of the Velvet Box by Margaret Scherf. If I remember right, I misplaced it long enough that we had to pay the library for it.
Oh, that's great! So with a love of reading like that, when did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire?
I remember telling a family friend I wanted to be a writer when I was probably in junior high. But I didn’t get serious about it until I was around thirty, when I became a stay-at-home mom. Christian fiction was just getting off the ground at the time. I can’t remember any specific books that influenced me, but I wanted to build stories around minor figures in Bible stories.
With summer in full bloom, what is on your to-read list? And what is your ideal summer reading experience?
My ideal summer reading experience would be an enclosed porch with a view of a lake, with maybe even a storm blowing in across the lake. Somewhere nearby would be the soft tinkle of a wind chime and I’d be on a chaise lounge with a light blanketover my legs. The stack of books beside me would include Charles Martin’s Water From My Heart, Lisa Wingate’s The Story Keeper, Robert Whitlow’s A House Divided, and Cynthia Ruchti’s All My Belongings.
Now that is an ideal summer reading experience! Thanks for visiting and letting us get to know you better as a reader. Folks, you can continue to connect with Mary L. Hamilton, and discover more about her books and upcoming releases, at the following links.
Bio: Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her own three children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, including serving as a camp counselor for a week. She decided once was enough.
When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever.
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