Lily is based in Hertfordshire. She graduates in September with first class honours in Media and Creative Writing and received a prize for the highest mark in her programme. Lily writes young adult fiction and is currently seeking representation for a coming of age novel. When she isn’t writing, Lily runs her own business selling handmade gifts and cakes, she also has a small but noisy dog who always manages to get up to mischief. She used to work in a bookshop and envied every single name on each spine, and hopes one day her own can join the ranks!
You can follow Lily on Twitter @Lilyhawkes
We’re very pleased to be able to sit down and chat (virtual chats still count) with Lily Hawkes, whose short story Mother will be appearing in our next release, Issue Three. We’ll very quickly tell you that Issue Three is out 20th September, and to get reminders and other submission opportunities, follow us on Twitter. But back to Lily, and back to Mother.
Mother is the story of two siblings journeying through the woods in autumn, on their way to their secret den. But woods are never just woods to young minds, and there’s more living between the trees than in other parts of the world. Why is there a lamppost so far out? And who is it they can see in the light from its flames? Immediately relatable, hauntingly moving, and with subtle Bridge to Terabithia vibes, Mother is, at its heart, a story of love, longing, and siblings.
Can you tell us a bit about Mother? Was there any inspiration behind it?
I wrote the short story for an assignment at university. I always worry about ideas and when the next one will come along. This one started as a daydream about my childhood. My brother and I used to build dens, they were never more than a bit of old carpet but they seemed amazing at the time. From that daydream I started to wonder what kids could build if they had nothing else; if their real home wasn’t a sanctuary, could they make their own?
It was often joked about at university that I always wrote sad stories, and this one went in that direction too, but whatever happens, the two siblings will always have each other.
I now take cake orders and make a range of handmade gifts that I sell online and on craft stalls, including bunting, cake stands, wreaths, and dog bow ties and bandanas, happily modelled by my mad schnauzer, Harry.
You mentioned being at university before, and in your bio it says that you’re due to graduate after studying Media and Creative Writing – how does that feel?
It feels really surreal. It was actually my third attempt at university. I was due to go in 2012 but was diagnosed with cancer so I had to defer. I left home in 2013 a month after my all clear and tried again but it became clear that it was far too soon.
So it feels like it’s been a long time since I decided I wanted to go to university, but I was determined to get my degree in the end. I was thrilled to attain first class honours after a difficult three years that involved a further two operations and many issues with medication. I was even happier when I was awarded a prize for the highest grade on my programme.
I chose the degree purely for the creative writing courses. I had only ever written novels before, however after having modules in poetry, screenwriting and scriptwriting I found so many more areas that I could enjoy. Although I don’t write poetry, the twelve week course still influences my writing. Poetry taught me to look at the world from a different angle, and I try to incorporate that into my writing.
Having teachers who have published novels, poetry collections and have had plays produced was very important. To have positive and constructive feedback from them was so helpful. It also meant I was in contact with people who had knowledge of the industry and could offer invaluable advice.
A lot of people find finishing university daunting, and possibly rightly so. The future can be scary. But it can be exciting too, and it’s always good to think positively. If you had it your way, what would the future hold for you?
My dream is to have my books published, and to always have new ideas. I also write screenplays so would love to see something of mine on the television.
And a house big enough for a library, with a comfortable chair and a writing desk, and there has to be space for a dog amongst those books too!
I read both young adult and adult fantasy more than anything else, but I have never had the right idea spring upon me in a daydream
What does your reading list look like at the minute? I know it can go to the wayside while studying.
Now uni has finished I have so much more time to read, I have a few books waiting. I’m currently reading Little Fires Everywhere. Next up is Children of Blood and Bone.
I often find my next books to read through Twitter recommendations. I recently read State of Sorrow which was such an interesting story that shows the world of politics to a teenage audience in an interesting way. I also discovered Alwynn Hamilton on Twitter and loved her Rebel of the Sands trilogy.
But let’s put studying aside for a little while and find out more about you. I always find it interesting to hear who inspires writers, both from their personal lives and other authors. Who do you think has inspired you the most throughout your life?
I grew up reading the Harry Potter books, Jaqueline Wilson was a big favourite of mine through primary school too. The first book I read that I fell in love with was Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. It was a book I read over and over again as I grew up, I think that inspired my writing hugely.
I have always written stories, however the first time someone else read one was during sixth form when I had to transform a poem into a novel extract or short story. I chose Dulce Et Decorum Est, and told the story from the point of view of the gas. My teacher, Mrs Dunn, was so enthusiastic about it, and showed the other English teacher too. This small act has stuck with me since then, it was the first time someone told me they enjoyed my writing, and from them on I couldn’t stop.
Is there anything as a writer that you’ve always been interested in but never tried?
I absolutely love reading fantasy. Anything from Game of Thrones to The Bear and the Nightingale. I read both young adult and adult fantasy more than anything else, but I have never had the right idea spring upon me in a daydream, so I’m biding my time until I can write my own.
My brother and I used to build dens, they were never more than a bit of old carpet but they seemed amazing at the time. From that daydream I started to wonder what kids could build if they had nothing else; if their real home wasn’t a sanctuary, could they make their own?
Finially, you mentioned that you run your own business. That’s really cool, can you tell us a little more about that?
Sprinkles & Stitches started in April 2018. I have baked cakes since I was little but once university finished I decided I wanted to expand a little. I now take cake orders and make a range of handmade gifts that I sell online and on craft stalls, including bunting, cake stands, wreaths, and dog bow ties and bandanas, happily modelled by my mad schnauzer, Harry.
It’s great because it allows me to be flexible when I want to dedicate time to writing.
Lily, thank you for your time, and we hope everyone found the interview as interesting as we did – we definitely feel there’s something everyone can take from Lily’s experiences.