This section of the site is for readers who are curious about my life and personal choices. I’ll try to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked during the last ten years.
I was born in the United States, but I have lived and worked all over the world. I’m a father (The Dark River was dedicated to my children). I’m a Buddhist who has meditated for most of my life.
I’m not a recluse living in a mountain hideaway. I’m a fairly restless person with friends all over the world. Right now, I spend time in New York City, Berlin and rural Ireland.
I’ve never owned a television. But I occasionally watch an entire season of one show on my computer.
Various bloggers have decided that I’m a famous person who is writing under another name. None of these theories are correct, and they are usually invented by people who have never read my books.
When The Golden City was published, I encouraged readers to “be me” for an evening. People all over the world organized “I am John Twelve Hawks” events and many of the videos are still up on YouTube.
Will I ever go public? Perhaps I might — if there was a reason for that decision. At this moment, I like my life the way it is.
Readers with specific questions can ask me via my verified Facebook page.
People interested in the political ideas expressed in my books, should take a look at wespeakforfreedom.com. Occasionally, I join online chats on this UK-based website.
John Twelve Hawks
MY IDENTITY…AND YOURS.
When a person speculates about my identity, it reveals something about their own background and preferences. If the canvas is blank; the only thing people can see on its surface is themselves.
Q: What fiction inspired your writing?
JTH: During one period of my life, I lived with friends in a large run-down house next to a large university. I was sleeping on the floor in what had once been the maid’s room. My expenses were about $100 a month. Every morning I would go to the university library, “steal” a novel from the shelves, and read the entire book. The next day, I would replace the novel and take another one. Gradually, I worked my way through the British and American canon of literature, although I encountered the books as an autodidactic and not as a student in a lecture hall.
Q: Your novel is incredibly detailed and seemingly very well researched. How much and what kind of background reading did you do in preparation for writing The Traveler.
JTH: Generally the “real life” aspects of the book – such as Maya’s vision of London – are based on personal experiences. The description of the Vast Machine came from a great deal of research. I was obsessed with surveillance and our loss of privacy many years before I began to write the novel.
WRITING THE TRAVELER.
I started writing The Traveler during a very dark period of my life. In my personal life, I felt like a complete failure. And in the larger world, it seemed more and more obvious that the American people were being manipulated by a variety of negative forces.
If anyone reading this is going through a similar period of despair, I extend my hand to you. This one moment does not define who you are. Try to be with people who will encourage you and not destroy your dreams.
LIVING ON THE GRID
I live on the grid – primarily because of medical issues. But I think that it would be hypocritical for a writer to condemn our surveillance culture and then appear on a television show to blather about personal details. Focusing on a writer’s life undermines the power of that writer’s ideas.
Q: Is there a reason for the pen name? One you’d be willing to share, I suppose. As in, is it because you’re actually a secret CIA agent and/or Russian spy, or merely because you don’t ever want your mother knowing what you’ve written?
JTH: My mother and the rest of my family don’t know that I have written the novels. Those people I know who aren’t close friends see me as a failure by the American standards of success. Being a “failure” in such a way has been a continual lesson. It’s helped me realize that we make quick judgments of others based on little real information. We assume so much – but don’t know the secrets held within the heart.
Q: Have you ever “overheard” a conversation on your book, or a pen name (either online, in print, or in the bookstore) and kind of laugh or smile because they have no idea? What is your general reaction to that kind of situation?
JTH: I was on the subway in New York City and I saw someone with one of my books. A young woman was reading the paperback version of The Dark River.
At that time, I had just gone to a postbox and picked up the Danish translation of the novel. I could have “proved” that I was John Hawks.
So I leaned forward and said: “So, ahhh, what do you think of that novel?”
The young woman looked up at me and I saw what she was thinking: “This badly dressed man is trying to pick me up on the subway. What a creep!”
She said: “I really like it.” And immediately started reading again.
When I got off the train, I sat down on a bench. I smiled and then started laughing at my own vanity and foolishness.