28-year-old Lantern resident Danielle Hawkins has just published her debut novel, Scandalous, as romance thriller that is the first book in a planned trilogy.
Danielle moved into Lantern’s Jasper Hall six years ago, when she aged out of foster care. Soon after, she began writing her book. Walking around the Bronx, listening to music, she says that “the story suddenly came to light in my head.” She raced to the 99c store, bought pencil and paper, and sat in a nearby food court to write. After that, she went back every day, until she’d written 600 pages by hand. It was three years before she was able to afford a laptop, and transfer everything she’d written.
Danielle says her passion for writing started much earlier though. Originally she thought she would be a fashion designer, but there was one night that changed everything. She was 15, living in a group home, and the power went out. She remembers the lights being off and candles lit, and all she had was paper and a pen. So she started writing, and something just clicked. Danielle says:
“I’d just started writing some random story, but I couldn’t get writing out of my heart. From then on, it was my passion.”
Over the years, Danielle has been sharing pages from her manuscript with Lantern staff, getting feedback and support through the self-publishing process. The book had three edits, and she re-read it from the beginning 20 times before she felt it was good enough. It wasn’t easy to stay motivated, but in one of her lower moments, she says watching a JK Rowling documentary got her back on track, seeing how she’d just continued writing.
She also has two close friends who read every chapter, and she’s started writing the second book in her trilogy. Through all this, she’s also parent to a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old, so is fitting her writing in wherever she can while they’re playing. Danielle says:
“It feels great to be a writer. I have other books I have to write, stories pop into my head. If I wake up in the night, I can’t go back to sleep until I’ve written down the story I’ve thought of. I like having dreams: no matter how long it takes, don’t give up.”