8 Oct 2017

King Country's romance queen

From Sunday Morning, 8:40 am on 8 October 2017

You get things done if you like doing them, says King Country farmer, vet, wife, mother and rural romance author Danielle Hawkins.

Danielle Hawkins

Danielle Hawkins Photo: Supplied

In Hawkins' first novel Dinner at Rose's (2012) a young woman flees the city to return to her imaginary King Country hometown.

Her latest, The Pretty Delicious Cafe, is about two mates running a cafe and features some family recipes, including her own cinnamon buns.

As a child Hawkins used to walk into lamp posts on the way to school because she was always reading, she says.

While on maternity leave, she started writing her first novel, taking a "dystopian New Zealand that may have occurred if 30 years ago we'd been overtaken by a fundamentalist Christian party who'd plunged us all back into long skirts and hand ploughs" as her setting.

'Terrible idea, but quite nice writing. Rural romance sells very well, try that' the publishers said.

The first draft of Dinner at Rose's needed some serious work and the editor sent Hawkins four A4 pages of adverbs to cut, she says.

"Everything was done 'quickly' or 'cleanly' or 'cheerfully' or 'exultantly' or something."

Danielle Hawkins and her family

Danielle Hawkins and her family Photo: Supplied

Hawkins says she gets sad and flat from too much time inside so enjoys the farming and veterinary jobs "where you get dirty and you feel like you've had a workout."

On the farm cows are a favourite.

"They're very gentle and they're very stoic. They're not like a horse, they don't spend their whole time deciding that you're trying to kill them or trying to kill you."

When asked how she gets the time to write, Hawkins says you manage to do things if you like them.

"I don't watch much TV so it's what I do in the evening for a couple of hours."

According to her author bio, 'zapping flies' is another activity she likes to find time for.

Her weapon of choice is an electric fly swat.

"They sizzle, and if you get them really well they sort of smoke a bit. It's fantastic stress release."

To her "terrible disappointment" Hawkins hasn't seen the riches of authorship yet.

"When I first got published I thought 'I'm going to be able to help with the mortgage and do all sorts of cool stuff… but no."