Interview with Jennifer Hallmark

Smoking Flax

Today on the Brave Blog, I’m interviewing Jennifer Hallmark, author of Smoking Flax, a YA novel that deals with abuse and racism in 1978. Welcome to the Brave Blog, Jennifer!

Sarah: How would you define bravery? What is it? Where does it come from?

Jennifer: To me, being brave is tackling what is difficult despite feeling fear. When I think of
brave people, first to mind would be first responders, people battling debilitating illness, or
caregivers. But it’s also the single parent attending the ballgame after working all day, the
child who stands up for another at school, and the senior citizen who makes a difference in
their community. We can all be brave because it comes from the heart. God didn’t give us a
spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.

Sarah: I love that. Who’s the bravest person you know? Why?

Jennifer: My best friend, Joyce Dunn. She would argue with me but Joyce survived her home
taking a full hit by an F-5 tornado. She lost everything: house, car, belongings, and her
husband, Mike. Despite many injuries, she fought back to rebuild her home and life. Joyce
today ministers to others in church and throughout the community. She never gave up.

Sarah: That’s inspiring. What an encouragement to us all. Switching gears now, what’s your favorite genre to read?

Jennifer: I actually enjoy two genres the most. First, I love speculative novels (mostly science
fiction and fantasy), classics like The Lord of the Rings, Ender’s Game, and The Chronicles
of Narnia. Newer authors I follow are James L. Rubart, Jaime Jo Wright, R.J. Larson, Jill
Williamson, and Morgan Busse. Then there are books from the Golden Age of Detective
Fiction: think Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy
Sayers to name a few. I devour murder mysteries…

Sarah: Why do you write in the genre you do? Did you always want to write in that genre?

Jennifer: I always written Southern stories: even my first book which is an allegorical
medieval fantasy (unpublished) had a Southern flair to it. My first novel, Jessie’s Hope, is a
Southern family drama though it was marketed under contemporary romance. My new novel,
Smoking Flax, is still Southern but a change in genres: Young Adult with speculative
elements. My writing voice is the same but the stories very different. I found a real love for
YA in writing this book and hope to continue in this genre.

Sarah: Excellent. What is your author tagline? Why did you choose it?

Jennifer: Stories From Off the Beaten Track. A twist here, a revelation there. Southern
through and through. During 2020, I struggled like so many people and signed up for
coaching classes with James L. Rubart. I searched deep within during the year and realized if
I could only be brave enough, I could write the speculative fiction I loved to read. My stories
are a bit different, very Southern, with twists and revelations along the way.

Sarah: How fun! What are 3 things about you that we can’t find out from your bio?

Jennifer: (1) I’ve pretty much lived on one farm or another since I was in the 4 th grade. I’ve
gardened, raised poultry, cattle, hogs, goats, quails, and have ridden tractors and a combine.
(2) I’m a speed reader and sometimes read 3 or 4 books a week besides life and all the
writing stuff. (3) Hubby and I have been married 41 years.

Sarah: Congratulations. Now, do you prefer paperback, eBook, or audiobook? Why?

Jennifer: I prefer eBooks at this stage in my life because I can make the print very large. And
I need that even with my progressive lens. I still love to hold a real book in my hands though.
Audiobooks are too slow for me.

Sarah: Who is your biggest cheerleader?

Jennifer: My mom. My parents were very supportive throughout the years of kiddie stories,
teenage angst poetry, and non-fiction pieces, but my father passed away before I took writing
seriously. Mom loves everything I write and always wants to hear about my writing

Sarah: Aww. What a great support. Love it. What is the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to write their first

Jennifer: Be open to learning new things every day, whether it’s the craft, marketing, social
media, or research. Be willing to persevere because there will be more slow days than
celebrations. Be a cheerleader to the writers and people in the industry you meet. Everyone
needs encouragement.

Sarah: Finally, what are you working on now?
Jennifer: I’m working on the sequel to Smoking Flax, an untitled story about Reed’s best
friend, Talitha. Be ready for more surprises, twists, and maybe some romance?

Smoking Flax

Who Is He–Really?
Almost nineteen-year-old Reed Anderson wants to belong in a world where he hasn’t always fit. Three days after graduation, he decides to ride a bus back to Louisiana and deal with the events of his thirteenth summer once and for all. Back then, he’d stood up to his abusive Pa, protecting Momma and his sister, taking control of his life. But who was the faded image of the child he saw that day? Aunt Lula predicted his life would shift and change. Something about space-time-continuum and the fourth dimension? He tucks her words into his heart. If he survives the shift, this could be his chance to start over. But the ghost child haunts his dreams. Even though six years have passed, does he want to confront the lies he’s always believed?

Jennifer Hallmark

Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction with a twist. Her website and newsletter focus on her books, love of the South, and favorite fiction. She creates stories with unforgettable characters—her stories are a little eerie and otherworldly but with a positive turn.

Jessie’s Hope, her first novel, was a Selah Award nominee for First Novel. Her latest novel, Smoking Flax, will be released on January 16th, 2024.

When she isn’t babysitting, gardening, or exploring the beautiful state of Alabama, you can find her at her desk penning fiction or studying the craft of writing. She also loves reading and streaming fantasy, supernatural stories, and detective fiction from the Golden Age or her favorite subject—time travel.

3 thoughts on “Interview with Jennifer Hallmark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share the Post:

Related Posts