Ah, summer camp. Lots of fun, new friends, and big surprises. Meet Mary Hamilton, author of Hear No Evil. Leave a comment at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy.
Tell me a bit about your journey to salvation.
I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home. In addition, my dad was the director of a Bible camp where we lived for almost 20 years. So I probably had more than the normal share of Bible teaching as I was growing up. But when I was a freshman in high school, I read The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. It’s the story of how God called a little country preacher to minister to the youth gangs in New York City. After reading how lives were changed and how God worked actively in the lives of these people in the book, I remember thinking, “Wow. If God can do things like that in the lives of people like that, imagine what He could do in my life.” It wasn’t exactly a Damascus Road experience but that was when God became real to me. He wasn’t just a figure in the Bible anymore, like Moses and Abraham and the disciples. He was real, and I knew He wanted to have an active influence in my life on a daily basis. That’s when I began this wonderful relationship with the Lord.
Who does your intended audience include? Believers and nonbelievers? In what ways do you believe your story reaches each?
I’m writing for people who are aware of God but may not understand the personal relationship He wants to have with each of us. People who haven’t seen God’s active role in their lives. They may be believers in the sense that they believe in the historical Jesus Christ and the Bible, but they haven’t experienced that friendship with God. But I’m encouraged when I hear from readers who do enjoy that personal relationship with Him who say they’ve been uplifted and encouraged by reading Hear No Evil.
Tell me a bit about your main characters. Who did you have the most fun creating? Why?
My main character, Brady, is thirteen years old when his mom drops him off at summer camp and tells him he must go live with his estranged father because she doesn’t want him to live with her anymore. Even though the story is about him, I think his buddy, Steven, almost steals the show. Steven is fifteen and blind, but has been coming to camp for the last ten years so he knows his way around. He has such an upbeat attitude and provides some of the comic relief. So whenever things got heavy, I could count on Steven to cheer me up.
Introduce us to your villain. Is there a flicker of good within him/her?
I guess you could say I have two villains in the story—Brady’s mom and Taylor, the camp bully. His mom definitely has a flicker of good in her, and I think you catch a glimpse of that in the opening scene. That’s why it’s such a shock when she sends Brady away. Taylor is a little different. I’m not sure you see the good in him, as much as you see the insecurity that motivates him. In the end, that makes him a bit more sympathetic.
What message do you hope your readers will take away after reading your novel?
I hope readers will understand how much God sees and cares about each one of us and how eager He is to participate in our daily lives. He wants a personal relationship with us. This is especially true for kids who may suffer the consequences of the poor choices their parents or other adults make. I want those kids to know that there may be things going on that they don’t see, but it doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong. God still sees and cares about what they’re going through. Even in the midst of the storm when you can’t hear His voice, He’s there. Trust Him.
Are you planning a sequel? Please tell me a bit about it.
The second book in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series is scheduled for release next August. It’s titled Speak No Evil, and features some of the same characters who return to camp the following year. But this time, the focus is on Taylor. Let’s just say that the bully gets bullied.
What has surprised you most about being an author?
I don’t think I was prepared to move from hobbyist to businesswoman. For so many years, I wrote as a hobby. But once you become published, your hobby needs to become a business if you want to be successful. I’ve never been career-minded, so the demands of publicizing and marketing my book have been a little overwhelming at times. It’s a steep learning curve, but every time someone tells me how much they enjoyed reading Hear No Evil, I realize it’s worth every challenging step.
Summer camp is no fun for Brady McCaul. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. The camp bully targets him with cruel taunts and teasing, and flips Brady’s canoe to keep him from winning the race. But worst of all, his mom won’t let him come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. Brady wonders if even God cares about him.
Can Brady figure out what he did to earn Mom’s rejection and change her mind by week’s end? Or will he have to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven?
All seems lost until a surprising secret changes everything.
Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Her debut novel, Hear No Evil, was a 2012 semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest, and has won awards in the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and the Cat 5 contest.
Besides writing, Mary loves the outdoors and nature, as well as opening her home to youth Bible studies, pancake suppers and breakfast with her special recipe waffles. She and her husband live near Houston, TX, within range of their three grown children.
Thank you for hithering and venturing to another world with me. Please visit again next week when I’ll interview Stephanie McCall, author of Fiery Secrets.