image: header
image: gownflare

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spotlight on Mary Hawkins and Return to Baragula

Today, I have the privilege of sharing with you an author who was a favorite of mine during the early years of the Heartsong Presents book club. Her stories about Australia (all 8 of them, the Search and the Southland series') hooked me right from the start and kept me looking forward to the next one in the series. I fell in love with her characters, and even today, they resonate in my mind with fond remembrances.

Now, Mary is back with a brand new book. Enjoy!


After growing up on the Darling Downs in Queensland, Mary became a double certificated registered nurse before studying at the Church of Christ Bible College in Sydney. There she met her husband and together they enjoyed pastoral ministries in New South Wales and Queensland. This included successfully planting two new churches. They have also been privileged to go on three short term ministry and study team trips to Africa in Zambia, Nairobi and Ghana. After officially "retiring," they ministered for two years at a church in England before settling in Tasmania, Australia. Mary and Ray have three adult children and four grandchildren.

Mary’s dream of becoming a published novelist became true in 1993 with the release of her first book. Since then 16 titles have sold over three quarters of a million books world-wide, with "Australia", a collection of contemporary Christian romance novels becoming a best-seller. More information on her website:

by Mary Hawkins
Published by Ark House Press

Buy Your Copy Today!


Emily Parker's actions as a teenager not only impacted her own life but the lives of many others.

Now, six years later, she returns reluctantly to her home town of Baragula only to discover the man at the heart of those actions, Matthew Davidson, is the community's respected doctor.

While Emily's faith is now severely weakened by all that has happened, Matthew's life has completely turned around since he committed his life to Christ. His personal relationship with God is tested when he discovers how his behaviour when a non-believer hurt so many, especially Emily, and feels responsible for her hardness of heart towards the Lord.Disease attacks the community while danger from another source threatens Emily and her family. Through it all, will Matthew and Emily's faith be strong enough to forgive each other and put the past behind them?


1. It's been a long time coming since you've been on the publishing scene as a best-selling author. Welcome back! What kept you away, and what gave you the inspiration for this story?

Thanks for the welcome, but I really don't feel as though I've been away! The last few hectic years have flown by with ever increasing speed. It is hard to realise my Australia 4-in-1 collection of contemporary Heartsong Presents novels was that best-seller released way back in 2000. Since then, unfortunately life led us along a few different and unexpected paths until we could settle in our new home here in beautiful Tasmania.

I had another historical Heartsong released mid 2002 and then Barbour released my four Great Southland historicals in another collection late 2003-–Australian Outback. During the last six years, selling our home, ministering overseas and then back here to a little retirement home has been very unsettling for a writer-- this one anyway. My husband officially "retired" in 2001 from full-time ministry here in Australia, but immediately afterwards we left for a ministry in England via our third short-term mission and study trip to Africa. We returned to Australia in 2003 to try and settle down at last in our little retirement home in a very beautiful part of Tasmania.

It hasn't always been easy adjusting to different lifestyles, much colder climates and now living near our beautiful grandchildren (much self-discipline required there!). Although not involved now in full-time pastoral ministry I have discovered how distracting and time-consuming house renovations can be. Over these unsettled years I ventured out into writing these longer inspirational romances and until now have had to go through the submission and rejection period once more.

The inspiration for Return to Baragula? One day, in a beautiful quiet place, I tossed a large rock into still water. A large splash disturbed the peace. Large ripples surged and then circled away. They spread and spread, disturbing the surface, lapping at the sides of the pond. A few small fish shot past me. Screeching it's displeasure, a water bird took off. Thoughtlessly I'd disturbed that peaceful scene. So often we don't realise just how much our sin can affect others, how far those ripples may spread, how one act of disobedience may change not only our own lives but many others, including our church family as well as our immediate family.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Emily and Matthew? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Over the years I have known too many Christian young women who have yielded to sexual temptation and thus disturbed not only their own peace and relationship with God but that of many others. I long for these young people to come to know that even when their sin is forgiven, there may be consequences that still have to be dealt with.

I am a fully trained, registered nurse and thus Emily and Matthew have medical backgrounds. Outside of that, their traits are all their own!

3. What themes exist in Return to Baragula that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I hope parents may be encouraged to love their children unconditionally, even when they make unwise choices. Although I know a church can be hurt when they see any of their young people sin, I pray that church congregations, while never condoning sin, will still love the sinner and be kind and tender – as Jesus is.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The prologue. I wanted to adequately show the feelings of a Christian young woman and the worldly attitude of a non-believing young man.

My favourite has to be those last few pages – and no, I'm not going to spoil the story by saying anymore!

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Return to Baragula is Book One in the Baragula series and Ark House Press has asked me to send them Book Two, Outback from Baragula in June, so I am hoping this one will be out perhaps before Christmas.

This story is set on a cattle station in western New South Wales and is the story of two characters introduced in Return to Baragula. She is the daughter of rich graziers – even flies a helicopter to the dismay of the hero. The biggest problem he has to face is that he is falling in love with someone who is not a Christian. His family background particularly makes this a big issue for him but she believes he thinks her simply "not good enough" for him. There is danger, a mystery to solve and of course they get to know each other, and the Lord Jesus much better as they face it all together with Him.

* * * * *

Thanks, Mary, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Return to Baragula.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:" when you leave a comment and type the email address where you'd like them sent. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

* * * * *


Hannah said...

i'd love to win a copy of this book! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com great interview!

Kim said...

This lady is fascinating! I'm sure her book is a must read, so please enter me in the drawing!

kimfurd at hotmail dot com

windycindy said...

Hi, Mary has sure lead a fascinating life! She and her husband have done a lot of good in the world. Her books sound marvelous. Please enter me in your drawing. Thanks,Cindi

Carolynn said...

I have never read any of your books, but I would love to!

ChristyJan said...

I'd love to win a copy of Return to Baragula!

Cherie J said...

Good to see your writings again. I also remember reading your early works with Heartsong Mary and enjoyed them a great deal. This new work of yours sounds like another great read. Would love to be entered in the drawing.

Anonymous said...

I met Mary at the Alpha 2 Omega convention last May in Brisbane and read her Australia novel on the way home on the plane. Very enjoyable. Would love to win a copy of her new novel. Well done, Mary.

Mary Hawkins said...

My apologies for not responding before this. I did send a comment yesterday but have no idea what I did wrong so it hasn't appeared!

Thank you all for your kind comments. Cherie, how lovely that you read my earlier Heartsongs and enjoyed them. I do trust you find this book challenging as well as an entertaining read.

Hi, Dale! Great to see another Aussie here. I'm always rather nervous when a fellow author like yourself reads a book of mine, so am really pleased you enjoyed my Heartsong Search series in the Australia volume.

tetewa said...

Sounds great, count me in!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Ok, we have a winner for this one folks! And that winner is:


Congratulations! Please email me with your mailing address and how you would like the book autographed so Mary can get your book out to you.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support. Visit the other spotlights in February to see if you've won!

Mary Hawkins said...

Sincere congratulations, Carolynn. Not sure how long it will take to arrive at your house, but will airmail the book as soon as possible.

Sorry the rest of you missed out, especially as Return to Baragula may not be as readily available in shops as other great books published in North America. If anyone has to order it through a bookshop, it may help to mention that Anchor is the distributor in the U.S. for my publisher, Ark House Press. Of course, you can also buy direct from the publisher's website - or from my own if you'd like a signed copy. I do have PayPal now working but of course you will need to email me first for the cost of postage.

Thank you so much, Tiff, for allowing me to share on your blog. You have so many authors of great books, including Kim Vogel Sawyers I have been promoting over here. It has been a tremendous privilege.