Monday, November 03, 2014

Q & A with Mark Willen, author of, Hawke's Point


Mark Willen, author of Hawke's Point, has been so gracious and kind enough to agree to be featured on the blog for a short Q & A. Below are some of the questions I asked him based on my reading experience of the book and what I was curious to know. Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

Q: Why does it seem like Jonas spends so much time alone?

Mark Willen: Jonas turned inward after his son was killed in a car accident and he discovered his wife Emma was having an affair with Richard Reinhardt. Shattered, he turned to alcohol, became bitter and lost his zest for life. When the book opens, twenty-four years after his son’s death, he is at the cusp of change. He vows to use his remaining years to turn his life around. But change doesn’t come easily or quickly, and the wall he’s built around himself has to be dismantled a brick at a time. So he is still spending a lot of time alone, especially in the beginning of the novel. Jonas’s journey – from recluse to a kind, caring and involved citizen is at the heart of the Hawke’s Point.

Q: Why don't we hear more of what happened between Emma and Reinhardt?

Mark Willen: The affair took place more than two decades earlier, and what’s important are the scars it left behind, not the details. Emma is, in fact, terrified of having her adult children learn of the affair because she can’t bear the thought of having to relive it.

Q: Why did you choose a small town for the setting of this book, especially with the health issue that later becomes central to the plot?

Mark Willen: I fell in love with Beacon Junction as soon as I created this fictional town, and I like to think that the setting had a lot to do with molding the characters and the tone of the novel. The small- town atmosphere helped foster a kind of intimacy and made the fact that all the key characters know each other less of a coincidence than it would have been in a big city. As for the health issue, using a small town actually helped because it allowed the company involved to assume outsized economic importance.

Q: What was your favorite part/event in Hawke's Point?

Mark Willen: It’s an awful cliché to say this, but that question really is like asking me to choose a favorite among my children. Let me just say that I love the way Jonas’s character develops over the course of the novel, as well as the way he interacts with Emma and Mary Louise.

Q: What’s one or two lessons you want your readers to take away from Hawke's Point?

Mark Willen: I don’t believe literature should offer lessons, but I do hope Hawke’s Point encourages people to think about their own lives, much as Jonas is thinking about his. Have we made the most of our time on Earth?  How do we want to be remembered? What is our impact on other people? In particular, I hope the novel prompts people to think about ethics. Almost all of the characters in the novel face some kind of ethical quandary, and they have considerable difficulty figuring out how to handle them. Ethics sometimes involves doing what you know is right, but more often it’s hard work to sort through the options and decide among competing rights, especially when we can’t predict how a course of action will turn out. Ethics is a tough business, but ultimately it’s worth the struggle.

Q: What does Hawke's Point mean to you?

Mark Willen: To me, the title has meaning on three levels. The most important is that Jonas Hawke does indeed have an important point to make, and he does that late in the book (I won’t reveal it here because it’s a spoiler). Second, Jonas has reached a particular point in his life where he is looking back as well as forward, trying to reassess the past and decide on the next stage. Finally, Hawke’s Point connotes a place. Jonas spends a great deal of time on the porch of the bed-and-breakfast he owns, sitting and pacing (walking point, if you will) and ultimately making decisions. So the porch, and in a symbolic way the town of Beacon Junction, is Hawke’s Point, the place.

Q: What can we expect from you next?

Mark Willen: I’ve completed the draft of a very different novel – a thriller, but I’m not happy with it. I’ve put it aside and may—or may not—come back to it down the road. My new project is about a journalist who writes an ethics advice column and runs into some tough ethical issues of his own. (Sound familiar?)  A number of readers (including my publisher), have asked me if I’m planning a sequel to Hawke’s Point and some have even suggested plots for it. I hadn’t planned on a sequel, but the questions have prompted me to consider it.