20 Questions with PJ Hawkinson and Karen Wodke

1. So, what’s your book all about?
Karen & PJ: We have released two novels and three volumes of short stories to date. Most recently we worked on an addendum to our novel, Betrayed. We had a couple of ways the novel could have ended, and although we were delighted with the original, we made the decision to follow up the publication with an alternate ending.

Betrayed is the horrifying story of a woman who is abducted as the result of a botched carjacking; after which she is held captive and sexually abused for days. Upon her escape from her captors, she becomes lost in the wilderness of Colorado at the onset of a harsh winter. At the end of her endurance, she is found by a reclusive mountain man and fears that she has traded one form of captivity for another.

2. What inspired you to write this tale?
Karen & PJ: PJ had the idea of having a woman get lost in the Colorado forest at the beginning of a fierce winter. Karen had the idea of a story with a reclusive mountain man. Alone, the stories seemed to be going nowhere. But, after the idea was brainstormed, we found the addition of a botched carjacking to the plot meshed the two ideas together. Betrayed was the outcome.

3. Do you have a favorite quote about creativity/inspiration etc…? What is it?
PJ: I don’t have a favorite, but I like the following quote:
“If you can’t play all the instruments in the orchestra of story, no matter what music may be in your imagination, you’re condemned to hum the same old tune.”  ~ Robert McKee

Karen: “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~Toni Morrison

4. What things do you keep in your “writing space”? Do they inspire you? Confound you? Hold wires in place?
PJ: When working at the dining room table I have my laptop, pencils, paper, the home phone, and my cell phone. The wires stretch from the table to the wall and are only a trip hazard for me since it is on my side of the table. Then, I move to a TV tray in the basement. I have the home phone and my cell phone. Oops, there’s the TV; sigh. And now, the wires stretch across the room to the wall, ready to snag and throw on the floor anyone not paying attention. In the back basement room, I have paper, post-its, the home phone, my cell phone, and a printer. I also have a wider choice of software. The wires are all safely behind the computer table and offer no problem what-so-ever. None of the places I work inspire or confound me, my work is mainly inside my brain; all I have to do is coax it out and get it on paper.

Karen: I have my laptop on the table, a lamp, always a few books around just because I like books, and my cat ignoring me from ‘her’ chair, which is actually my easy chair but she refuses thus far to accept this reality. None of these things inspire me although once in a great while my cat will walk across the keyboard. This is somewhat confounding. I save my work often, just in case. Her contributions to my writing rarely add anything beneficial.

5. What is your perfect “writing space”?
PJ: I have a problem with my writing space: it moves. Most the time I have my laptop on the dining room table where I have the distraction of the outdoors right outside the patio windows. Then, I move to a TV tray in the basement. Oops, there’s the TV; sigh. I should use the desktop computer in the back basement room; but, what fun is that? There are absolutely no distractions there. Solution: use my laptop wherever I want and try to ignore all the distractions. Hey, what was that? Gotta go, the news is on.

Karen: The computer room is my perfect space, although I haven’t been using it lately. In there, my desk is in front of a window that looks out over the front yard and the street. But the computer in there is slow compared to the laptop and the desk is too small to house both. So, lately I’ve been working at the dining room table with the aforementioned cat in the background, actively disregarding me.

6. If your car horn could play any song, which would it be? Can’t say Dixie.
PJ: Holy smoke! There is no way I could choose just one. My music interests range from The Beatles to The Dixie Chicks, from ZZ Top to The Celtic Woman, and from Led Zeppelin to Bach. So, I’d have to change my horns’ music every few minutes to get through all the songs I like.

Karen: This question reminds me of the horn in the movie “RV.” But I wouldn’t want my horn to play the Star Trek theme, although I did love that movie. Um, let’s see. Can it play something soothing and calming to the nerves? Like space music with subtle little dream-weaving blips and monastic chanting tones?

7. What would you name the first permanent settlement on mars?
PJ: I could only name it if I establish it; thus, I would have to name it Hawkinson Valley. This is assuming that I establish it in a valley; it could be Hawkinson Mountain, or Hawkinson plains. But one thing is certain, the local watering hole would be named The Mars Bar. (I know, what a cliché, but hey, that’s how I roll.)

Karen: I think it probably already has a name. We just don’t know what it is.

8. How tall is the perfect sidekick? Please explain why it even matters.
PJ: The case would vary depending upon the story. In the case of Tangerine, Ava has two sidekicks. The first is shorter than fifteen inches. Pisk is an alien that has similar features to an Earth cat. Since the Beti, Ava and Pisk’s ship, was designed mainly for these particular occupants in mind, it is particularly helpful that Pisk is the size he is. Her second sidekick, Needle, is over six feet tall and Ava likes him just the way he is so we couldn’t change anything about him.

Karen: This is a tough question. And controversial. No matter what height I choose, someone may feel left out. Therefore, I’m going with 1’2″. Small enough to ride on a shoulder, yet big enough to carry a cell phone and other sundry small items. It matters a great deal because little is cute. Also, purses can get heavy.

9. If you were to mess with the time stream, what would you change? Let’s assume a hundred other people already took care of Hitler so you don’t have to say, “Kill Hitler.”
PJ: Oh my! Are you sure you haven’t read Tangerine? This is one of the main questions that Ava and Needle face when they come into possession of a device that allows them to travel in time. As they haven’t made a decision yet, it seems unlikely that I know, so I decline giving an answer to this question.

Karen: I would go back and fix my own mistakes and reverse unpleasant events in my life. That’s all. My needs are modest.

10. Let’s say your character has a pet brown bear. What’s the bear’s name?
PJ: Hmm, I’m thinking its name would be Bear.
Karen: His name would be Dollar.

11. If you had to give an antagonist an annoying trait, what would it be?
PJ: We have several antagonists, both in our novels and in many of our short stories. I think a good annoying trait would be to constantly stick his tongue from his mouth in a reptilian manner.

Karen: I’m torn between poor hygiene and smacking sounds when eating.

12. What kind of car would your ultimate protagonist drive?
PJ: A black-as-midnight, Bentley Hunaudieres, exactly like the one Needle drives in Tangerine.
Karen: A good solid used vehicle, fully paid for. I’m frugal.

13. You’ve got a year to travel anywhere. Where?
PJ: New Zealand, The popular spots in Europe, and Russia.

Karen: All over the USA with special focus on places with stunning scenery. There would have to be at least one stop that included deserted white sand beaches and shallow warm aqua water.

14. You just bought a boat with your book fortune. What are you going to call it?
PJ: We actually have a boat, and, ironically, we call it the boat. But I am going to assume you mean bigger than a bass boat, so let’s see… I’d call it…The Flying Hawk! My husband’s nickname is Hawk and The Flying just seems to fit with it. (Darn, remember me, the Beatles fan. I just looked at Karen’s answer. Darn!)

Karen: Paperback Writer

15. What kind of music, if any, gets you typing the fastest?
PJ: Kid Rock’s. Although, to tell the truth, music sidetracks me, makes me want to spring to my feet and dance; which, luckily, no one can see.

Karen: Usually none. Unless I need a particular mood for a particular setting.

16. What’s the punch line to your favorite joke?
PJ: “We know, we like to watch him flop on the sidewalk.”
Karen: “Will the defendant please rise.”

17. What lyric do you sing poorly, yet loudly?
PJ: All of them.
Karen: Strangers in the Night

18. You find a portal to another world in your sink’s drain. What is this other world called? And what is the best way to clean the portal so it doesn’t smell like old food?
PJ: Earth Two. There is no way to rid the portal of its stench since this is where Earth Two keeps their garbage. But there is a giant door that closes quickly after letting in certain select persons in. Maybe I’ll come back to Earth for a visit someday.

Karen: No one has ever asked me this before. I don’t know why; it just never came up. Here is my answer: Half of the other world is called Clorox in honor of the miraculous sanitation treatment that finally freed its inhabitants from the unpleasant smell. Interestingly, the other side of the world is called Baking Soda. (They must have more than one portal.)

19. Where can people learn more about you, your work or any pets you have?
PJ: They can’t really learn anything about any of the things above. First, I’m a very private person; second, I am currently unemployed, and third, I am currently and perhaps permanently without a pet. Otherwise, visit http://wodke-hawkinson.com; www.findagoodbooktoread.com; and visit our blog at http://wodke-hawkinson.com/our_blog.

Karen: Let’s see…writing is my work. Beyond that, more info is available at this website:  www.findagoodbooktoread.com

20. What’s next?
PJ: Well, we just released the novel Tangerine, and Betrayed-Alternate Ending. Our next novel is about an innocent young woman who falls for the wrong person and has to deal with a young man with evil intent.

Karen: As PJ mentioned, our current WIP is a dark novel of obsession and impending danger.

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