Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Linda J. Hawkins, author of Southern Seasons: 12 Months of Tea-licious Recipes & Ideas
FQ: The photographs that you include in your book are absolutely stunning! Can you tell readers a bit about the tea plantation shown?
HAWKINS: Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island is right off the mainland in Charleston, South Carolina. I enjoyed a wonderful tea there and had the privilege of dressing in period costume, answering questions, interacting with visitors and signing books. The most amazing thing that morning was the misty island air--as we pulled up you could smell tea permeating the air. For a tea lover this was an AHHH—moment!
FQ: Along those same lines, is this where you first got the desire to create recipes and put together gatherings/events that you spotlight in the book? Have these recipes been passed down through your family, or have you created them over time?
HAWKINS: No, this was a wonderful place to be inspired, but I was already a full-blown tea lover when I first visited. At the time, I had two tea books: Catering to Children with Recipes for Memorable Tea Parties & The Unspoken Language of Fans & Flowers with Recipes. These were already written when I did my first book signing at the beautiful plantation. They invited us for the grand opening after Bigelow Tea became a partner with Bill Hall. The recipes are from my family & friends; and others I created and tweaked over time.
FQ: Considering the various places you have visited, can you pick a favorite locale of yours, or even a locale that perhaps inspired one of your special tea parties?
HAWKINS: Whether it’s by the ocean, down by a river, on a mountainside, in a wildflower field or in our own flower garden, I’d say each and every one inspire me differently. They each allow me to see nature and beauty from all four seasons and in many delightful, spirited tea times. A Victorian Tea with old furniture in our outside garden was a most memorable event.
FQ: In a world that seems to go very fast, would you offer some pointers and/your opinions on the health properties of tea, such as, how much better it is for the heart and how it can help people to slow down a bit and enjoy life?
HAWKINS: Tea is such a delightful drink--hot, cold, iced and mixed with other ingredients, such as fruits and berries. You will find many recipes, mixes and ideas in Southern Seasons: 12 Months of Tea-licious Recipes & Ideas. Sodas and coffee people tend to grab while on the run and down them quickly. Tea seems to change our mood and we relax more, sipping more slowly, relaxing and taking life at a more leisurely pace. Health benefits? Oh, yes! We’ve included lots of information in the book about the health benefits of tea.
FQ: Was/Is there a chef, cook, baker, etc., whom you admire?
HAWKINS: No particular one, yet I have a deep appreciation for any and all tea house owners who take the time to create real presentations of each table they set – be it simple or ornately elegant. The atmosphere in each can vary yet bring people together for relaxing, sipping and nibbling of the many awesome morsels, beautifully arranged.
FQ: Your books have won a variety of national and international awards. If you could pick one that was your favorite book created, which one would that be and why?
HAWKINS: That is a loaded question, but just like moms of several children I’ll answer you this way they do, “How could I pick one above the other. I love them all!” (all 13)
FQ: What is your next goal in regards to your books? Are you working on something right now that you can share with readers and fans?
HAWKINS: My primary goal for all my books is to touch more hearts. This has been my goal from the day they first came out. In regards to my current project, I’m always working on something but I do not share until it’s off to the printer. Sorry! Top secret!
FQ: Can you tell us a bit about the various classes you teach for the tea industry? Do you have a favorite question from a reader, or a fan moment that you can share?
HAWKINS: There are two main ones: tea history and tea etiquette. But, we do design special speaking events to fit different venues. One of my fans from South Carolina sent a large packet of pictures of her very first tea. After reading my book, she wanted to say, “I did it too!” In the bottom of the package was postage to return her lovely pictures. No one had ever done this! Delightful indeed!
FQ: You have a lovely website at (www.lindajhawkins.com), with great gifts as well as a blog and information on all your programs; can you tell other authors out there the positives that social media have brought into your life and writing career? Are there any negatives when it comes to social media that you’ve found?
HAWKINS: I must confess social media is not something I spend much time on. I write, work my blog and allow younger people I work with to build website, design and maintain my social media. I still write everything longhand--type, then edit by computer. (Technical stuff and modern equipment messes with my thoughts and creativity.) Therefore, my first thoughts must flow from mind, hand to paper—old fashioned, but it works for me! The one negative I see with social media--it’s a time consumer. I am a high energy person, and I must be up and making visible progress.
FQ: A fun question...If you could have tea with one figure – whether it be a historical figure, an author, etc. – who would it be, and why? And, of course, what tea would you choose to share with said person?
HAWKINS: This is not a fun question! (Smiles) Because I’m a people person. I can think of sooo many we’d love to share tea time with; but if I’d have to narrow it down, it would still be with our grandchildren. (We had only sons, now we have only granddaughters.) The most adored event I created just for them was the The Caterpillar Sleepover, and the next day they all turned into Butterflies! How you may ask? Wings for their young shoulders, special foods for their taste buds and a “Nana” that loves spoiling them from the depths of my soul. Such love is beyond great riches. And, I’d serve them their own special flavor. (Lemon Rooibos, Earl Grey and Chai)
To learn more about Southern Seasons: 12 Months of Tea-licious Recipes & Ideas please read the review.