Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Mavis Duke Hinton

I'd like to introduce Mavis Duke Hinton, author of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES.

Please tell us about yourself. Where are you from? When did you start writing?
Although I was born in North Carolina and currently live here, I grew up in a military family.  I lived in France and Germany as a child, and experienced a bull fight in Spain, The World’s Fair in Belgium, and the Tulip Festival in Holland.  My family enjoyed touring Europe on camping trips, and we met and shared meals with friendly Europeans along the way.  I attended a French parochial school for kindergarten through half of the second grade, so I was fluent in French by age five (but I’m not now!).  My mother decided at that time that I needed to attend the American school for military children, which was located an hour and a half from our home. That lasted only through third grade, as my father’s tour of duty ended, and we returned to the States where I attended school in Ft. Eustis, Virginia.  In all, I attended 13 schools by the time I graduated from high school.  I have also lived in Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, but my favorite of all was Alaska, where we lived in Ft. Greely, located in the central part of the state.

As far back as I can remember, I enjoyed writing, at age ten even producing a little “newspaper” called The Daily Blab for the amusement of my friends.  Of course, I had to do everything by hand then, complete with pictures and articles—even advertisements!  In high school, I went through my short story and poetry phase.  I wrote articles for the campus paper in college as well.  Over the years, I’ve taught all levels of middle and high school English, along with AP British literature, creative writing, speech, and journalism.  While doing so full time, I never had the time to write as such, with my family responsibilities and the heavy load of grading research reports and essays.  My late father used to tell us what our dachshunds were thinking, and I believe I have inherited that 'gene' for doing so.  All of this is tongue in cheek, of course—and it makes for many a laugh around our house. My family encouraged me to use my “talent” to write a book. So, I walked away from my full-time career in ’05, started writing, and voila—I became an author, with my series entitled THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES.  I am currently working on Book 3, DACHSHUNDS FOREVER, a work in progress.

Why did you choose to write this book?
My other reasons (besides the “gene” thing) for writing from the dog's viewpoint are:
1) I enjoy imagining how day-to-day happenings must appear to the family dog;
2) I can shift  reality to share with readers what dogs think about life situations;
3) I have a zany sense of humor (my family can attest to that), and can use such humor when incorporating it into the dog’s viewpoint;
4) I love and appreciate dogs as man's best friend.  They show us unconditional love, like God has for us.  One of the characters in THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, Papa Duke (who is based on my father), so aptly states my feelings about dogs:

"A dawg loves you no matter what. You can be ugly, old, even dumb--but a dawg don't care. All he wants is your love and some food now and then. I think dawgs represent the unconditional love God has for us--maybe that's why He created them, to show that to us." 

If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, I would want to dine with Mark Twain.  I have always admired his works, and his brand of humor just cracks me up—his way with words amazes me.  It would be so enjoyable to converse with him, hear his answers to my numerous questions, and just enjoy his company. I know historically how life was during his lifetime, but it would be a pleasure to hear him talk about it.  Not everyone thinks he is that humorous, but in such works as INNOCENTS ABROAD or TOM SAWYER, I just laugh every time.

Who is your favorite character out of any you've created?
Besides Sarge, the doxie “author,” Papa Duke, of course.  His penchant for telling funny (but true) stories about his zany experiences, his zest for life, his robust laugh—it was a labor of love creating that character from details that I recall fondly about my dad, who died in 2000.  My books are my legacy to my grandchildren, giving them a chance to know him, since he passed away before they came on the scene.  I’ve told the granddaughters, ages six and seven, his stories often, and they request them again and again. Our little grandson just turned two, but perhaps in years to come he’ll enjoy hearing about his great grandfather Duke. In fact, six-year-old Alexa recently saw a photograph of Dad.  She said wistfully, “I miss Papa Duke so much.”  I replied that she had never met him—but she quickly added, “Well, I can still miss him, can’t I??”

What are your hopes for this book?
I want the entire series of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES to reach that niche audience of dog lovers, encourage and uplift them, and leave them saying to themselves, “Wow!  Those family members really love the Lord and each other—and what a dog Sarge is!”

Do you listen to music when you write or do you need quiet? 
I have this uncanny ability to block out everything when I am reading or writing—therefore, either way is fine with me.  In fact, when our daughters were growing up, they disliked  it when I was reading, because (in their words) the house could be burning down around me and I wouldn’t realize it until a fireman came to rescue me!  Clark, my husband doesn’t bother to ask me anything if I’m “in the zone,” because I simply won’t hear him J.  It’s not intentional—I am just engrossed in what I’m doing.

What's one quirk of yours?
I only get to name one?? (laughs)  Actually, the quirk I’m about to mention harks back to my full-time teaching days:  I’m just not all that “laid back” over tasks I feel are important to finish.  I absolutely detest having anything hanging over my head—meaning that I kill myself to get it done.  When I had, for example, 140 senior research projects to grade, I worked feverishly to get those things graded and back to my students.  There were just too many others things requiring my attention to let them be.  Even now, as I work from home, I put things in order of urgency and hack away at my list.

What is your favorite book and why?
Most recently, RADICAL by David Platt was a life changer.  Here’s one statement from the book that hit me squarely between the eyes:  “Are we willing to fundamentally alter our understanding of Christianity from a luxury-liner approach that seeks more comforts in the world—to a troop-carrier approach that forsakes comforts in the world to accomplish an eternally significant task and achieve an eternally satisfying reward?”

I have been a Christian since age 28, but this book brought a fresh outlook for my purpose in writing: it is not for self or merely to entertain readers—my purpose is to glorify Him and uplift my readers in the process.

What's the farthest from your current home you've ever visited?
Well, having lived in Europe as a child would qualify as pretty far away from North Carolina!  A few years ago, we drove (yes, drove) out to Arizona to visit our daughter Bethany and hubby Kurt.  Clark and I have also toured parts of Canada by car. We love traveling, so it was enjoyable seeing interesting places like Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon, eating different food (but North Carolina barbecue is still the best!), and exploring towns that way.  When my family lived in Alaska, Dad’s next tour of duty was Miami, Florida—and we drove down!  So, I’ve seen a great deal of this country, and loved (almost) every minute of it!

Please tell us about your book.
I AM SARGE is Book 1 of THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, and the books in this series are written in first person from the family dog’s viewpoint.  My stories are 95% true, as they are based on my family, friends, and of course Shadow, my “granddog.”

Here is the synopsis from the back cover of I AM SARGE:

Sometimes a dachshund’s “lowdown from the ground”
perspective is just what human beings need.

I was only eight weeks old when I was adopted into my new human family who knew immediately I was a super dog. They proudly gave me the name Sarge—after my Papa Duke, who was a sergeant in the Army. Quite a fitting name for a good-looking dachshund too, I might add. I just know someday I’ll do great and mighty things, befitting a super dog.

But in the meanwhile, I’ll just steal your heart and make you laugh out loud with the antics of this “chow hound.” And maybe, if you come over, Papa and I—two food lovers—might just share a snack or two with you, too.

Fall in love with Sarge, the quintessential dachshund,
and laugh along with his foibles and humorous escapades.

My links:
My website: Mavis Duke Hinton
Facebook: Mavis Duke Hinton's Books (please “like” my page!)
Twitter: @writer4dawg (follow me!)

For those in the Triad area of North Carolina, I’m having a book signing at Barnes and Noble Booksellers:  Saturday, April 7, from 2:00 p.m. “until.”  The address is  
906 Mall Loop Rd., High Point, NC.  The event is featuring both of my books:  I AM SARGE and I AM DACHSHUND.

I’m also on LinkedIn, and my books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook, etc.

Thank you for having me today, Laura!


  1. Fun interview and I love the book cover. My stepmother had a doxie when she and my dad got married. Loved that little dog.

  2. Sounds like a fun, adorable book! Thanks for the interview, Laura and Mavis.

  3. When you can write something that entertains and uplifts readers, as well as glorifies God, that is really amazing! I want to do that, I'm just not sure how, or whether I'd be able to do a good enough job...

  4. Those are some cute covers! You've got some adorable doggies, Mavis ;)


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!